Mahendra Raj on Kannadasan
In a thread on Kaviyarasu Kannadasan, R. Mahendra Raj has written a fascinating set of articles on the great lyricist. Egged on by other stalwarts like Manisegaran and Saravanan, a great discussion ensued, thanks to the contributions of Sankar, Geeth, SK, Subbu, Ramki and others. Mahendra Raj's posts make an engrossing read, and was appreciated by one and all. He is a wealth of information on the Kaviyarasar, and we are grateful to him for sharing it with TFMPage. The posts below share a story that few others can write-up. Kudos to Mahendra Raj. Read on!
Check out all the discussions in the thread "Kaviyarasu Kannadasan".
I am an ardent fan of Kaviarasu Kanndhasan having recorded his numerous experiences and broadcasting over Radio Malaysia for a considerable period of time. The response from the general audience was overwhelming. I am prepared to share the experience through this hub. However, it is a pity none of Kaviarasu's descendants have an indepth knowledge as to his works. This I can testify because I have personally met them in Chennai as well as in Singapore and Malaysia. It is also a pity that no body took any concerted effort to document his efforts. Whatever is being available is only through ad hoc basis that too by outsiders.
For starters let me explain the background to many of his popular songs, that is, the raison de'etre of penning such songs which ultimately fits well with the picturasation of the particular scene concerned. Amomngst the hundreds I will start off with one and depending on response from the audience I will accomodate further.
The producers of 'Avanthan Manithan' were rushing our poet laurete to pen the songs for their film which was scheduled to be shot in Singapore in the month of May 1973. Each opportunity they remind him of the month of May knowing Kaviarasu's attitude of taking everything easy and lightly. Finally, one fine day they insisted that he pens them the songs then and there. Without choice all the songs were written in a jiffy in a suite at Hotel Artlantic, Chennai. Before taking leave Kavirasu requested the producers and Music Director M.S. Viswanathan to take extra care on one particular song. Then he was gone. The group tried to decipher that particular song for a very long time until M.S.Viswanathan found the answer. All the songs in the film to name a few were hits such as 'Attuvithal Yaar Oruvan" "Manithan Ninaipathondru" "Engirintho Antha Kural" "Anbu Nadamaadum Kalaikudamae" etc. The code was broken by MSV. Yes, Kaviarasu got cheesed off with the verbal reminders by the producers when they emphasises the shooting schedule in Singapore in the month of May. He deliberately penned the song "Anbu Nadamaadum Kalai koodumae". To listeners it is just like another of the many romantic songs Kaviarasu has penned. But if you hear the song carefully each and every line ends with the word "May"!! Such is the compensation for incurring the wrath of Kaviarasar. The whole group had a good laugh over this incident whilst acknowledging Kaviarasar's acute sense of literacy and good humour.
Literally all his songs have backgrounds. I will accomodate depending on response from this hub.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Wed Feb 5 04:55:19 EST 2003
Thanks a lot Geeth. Could you highlight on the article "Mayavanathan"? I think I missed it.
The producers of "Gauvravam" (1973/1974)booked Kannadhasan to pen the songs for their film. But the latter was away in Malaysia.Once in Malaysia he forgets all his reponsibilities back home! It is a well known fact that Kaviarasar had a wide circle of associates in Malaysia. He gets well blended in Malaysia. He once remarked that being a strong believer in reincarnation he hoped that his next birth will be in Malaysia!
His assistant (I do not wish to cite his name for obvious reasons as he is still around and a well known film producer too)urged the producers to give him the opportunity to pen the songs citing Kannadhasan's attitude. Incidentally, this assistant is Kannadhasan's own nephew and he took him from nowhere and groomed him up. If you see films of the sixties and seventies era you can catch up his name as assistant to Kaviarasar in the film credits. The producers of "Gauravam" did not want to take the chance but instead preferred to await Kannadhasan's return. The moment Kannadhasan returned he heard the story of how his assistant-cum-nephew nearly manoeuvered him out of this film. He could'nt stomach the fact that the very child he groomed could do such a thing. But back to business. He penned all the songs but amongst them there were two songs where he really poured out his emotions. The songs fitted the film picturisation well but only those who were close to Kannadhasan knew that they were aimed at his nephew-cum-assistant. The songs are "Paaluti Valartha Kili" and "Neeyum Nanumaa Kanna Neeyum Naanumaa". The next time if you happen to hear these two songs close your eyes and you can feel the emotions of Kaviarasar. Anyway, the whole episode was forgotten as usual as Kannadhasan is a child-at-heart person and was never known to be vindictive throughout his life. He forgives and forgets. Thats his secret of remaining jovial till his last breath in spite of all the shortcomings he faced. See you all again with yet another song background story. Bye for now.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 188.8.131.52)
on: Thu Feb 6 05:06:42 EST 2003
Thanks for the info on Mayavanathan, Geeth. It is indeed heart warming to note that there are Kannadhasan fans out there globally especially amongst the present generation.
As we all know K.Balachander was a trend-setter with controversial story themes in the late sixties and seventies. When KB commissioned Kannadhasan and MS Viswanathan into his team masterpieces were churned out in the likes of "Arangetram" "Aval Oru Thodarkathai" "Aboorva Raagangal" "Moondru Mudichu" "Avargal" "Pattina Previsam" "Nizhal Nijamagirathu" "Thappu Thaalangal" "Ninaithale Inikkum" "Nool Veli" "Varumayin Niram Sigappu" etc. Ever noticed that in each of these films the theme songs will tell the story of the whole film in a nutshell? That is Kannadhasan's speciality according to KB's specifications. While directing the film "Pattina Previsam" MSV came out with a unique tune which KB was instantly impressed. He requested MSV to use his good offices to persuade Kannadhasan to pen a suitable song for this unique tune. Until the late fifties it was the music directors who called the shots when composing songs. The song writers were at the mercy of the former. But Kannadhasan changed all that. When the order was reversed Kannadhasan stuck to it vehemently. Knowing Kannadhasan's principle and temperament MSV cautiously approached him by throwing a challenge to him to equate his tune with a suitable lyric. Kannadhasan, after the initial berating, asked MSV to play the tune on his harmonium. Whilst MSV's fingers were busy with the hamromium keys Kannadhasan completed the whole song in just 15 minutes. The song is "Vaa Nila Nilaa Alle" where every line ends with the syllable "laa". KB, known for everything novel was immensely impressed. When the song was completed at the recording studio Kannadhasan jokingly said that he forgot to include three imprtant "laas" in the song - they were "mother-in"la"w, "father-in-"la"w and "daughter-in-"la"w!! KB wanted very badly to introduce this unique pair into one of his films and he found it two years later in the film "Varumayin Niram Sigappu". Here Kamalhassan acts Kannadhasan and Sri Devi as MSV for the song "Chippi Irukuthu Muthum Irukuthu Thiranthu Paarka Neram Illadi Rajathi". At the end of the song one line goes like this "kavithai ulagam unnai kenjum unnai kandaal kavingar ullam konjum" which was a fact because Kannadhasan and MSV lived like a husband-and-wife team with all the antics! KB was satisfied that he managed to do his part for this team in celluloid form. This also reminds me of the film "Aboorva Raagangal" where KB was at a loss as to how to conclude this controversial story. He approached Kannadhasan to pen a suitable round-up song for the conclusion and thus the song "Kelviyin Naayagane Intha Kelviku Bathil Ethuya" was born in a jiffy. The film became a hit winning regional and national awards. Incidentally KB insisted that Kannadhasan acts himself in a small role in this film. He obliged him. These two genuises were buddies respecting each others' talents. When Kannadhasan's body was lying in state in Chennai after being brought back from Chicago KB refused to pay his last respects. The reason? He could not bring himself to see his lively buddy lying motionless. Even after his death KB makes it a point to infuse Kannadhasan's quotations or songs in his later films and tv serials. So the next time you listen to the song "Chippi Irukuthu..." try and visualise the Kannadhasan-MSV pair. Bye for now!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Thu Feb 6 09:57:08 EST 2003
Just for the record the song "Aaramba Kalathil" in 'Arangetram'was tuned by MSV although V.Kumar was the music director. the same goes with the song "Thamarai Kannangal" in Ethir Neechal in which V.Kumar was the Music Director. Both are KBalachander's films.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Fri Feb 7 03:48:03 EST 2003
It was a well-known fact that MGR and Kannadhasan were the best of pals during the early years since both belonged to the same political party.It was Kanndhasan, through his powerful dialoges and screen play in films like "Madurai Veeran", "Mahadevi" "Nadodi Mannan" "Mannathi Mannan" "Raja Desingh" that helped MGR rise to the horizon. MGR acknowledged this fact and this was why he took the unprecedented decision to appoint Kannadhasan as the 'Aasthana Kavingar' to the Tamil Nad State Government when he took office as CM way back in 1978. Of course, the other unpublicised reason is that Kannadhasan was too liberal in his condemnation of the AIDMK Government which was the government of the day then. By coopting him into the government administration it could keep Kanndhasan under wraps, so thought MGR! But MGR was wrong. The morning after MGR contacted Kanndhasan by telephone announcing the appointment to which the latter agreed, he was back again condemning MGR in an evening function the same day! This news reached MGR but he shrugged and laughed it off juast saying "you know Kanndhasan is'nt it, it is typical of him!" When Kanndhasan was admitted in the Chicago hospital MGR made sure that he was given the best of medical treatment. He even requested MSVisvanathan to send a recording of the latter's voice so that Kannadhasan could find some relief in it. But before the casette could be sent Kaviarasar breathed his last. MGR who led the funeral procession in Chennai made a last minute decision to stack the numerous books written by Kanndhasan along with the body.How thoughtful of MGR. This he did personally as photographs taken at that time would testify.At a memorial function later MGR remarked that each time he is depressed or low in spirits he will listen to Kanndhasan's all-time motivating song "acham enbathu madamaiyada". Lo! he gets recharged and boosted. Kanndhasan has written numerous songs describing MGR both in physique as well as reflecting the latter's character. "theaka maram udallai thanthathu, sinna yaanai nadaiyai thanthathu, pookalellam sirippai thandathu, pon allovo niraithai tandathu". These lines are from the song "Maanallovo Kangal Thandathu" (Neethikupin Paasam". You can visualise MGR through these lines! "Seranuku Urava Senthamizhilin Nilava, paarivallar maganaa..." (Pesuvathu Kiliya - Panathottam), "Uravai Solla Oruvan" (Paasam) 'Oruthi Maganai Piranthavanaa' (Thaai Solle Thatathey) etc. He had also subtly condemned MGR in the song "kayile panam irunthaal kazhuthai kooda arasanadi" in his own film "Karuppu Panam"! When MGR was producing his very first ambitious movie "Nadodi Mannan" he requested Kanndhasan to come on time to do the scripting for the film in the studios daily. He also reminded him that he had mortgaged all of his properties and that this film will either make or break his (MGR's) career. As usual Kanndhasan will say okay but will turn up late the following day after late night outs! MGR who was observing this called up Pattukottai Kalyanasundram to pen a philosophical song hitting hard at Kanndhasan so that he must not forget this song throughout his life. Thus the song "Thoongathey Thambi Thoongathey" was born. Did Kanndhasan reform? As usual he took the song in his stride and laughed it off! He, in fact, enjoyed the lyrics and used to proudly announce that this was one song desribing him although he has written for others! The other incident was when MGR chided director Sreedhar for not using Kanndhasan's name in the credits for the song "Vizhiye Kathai Ezhuthu" in 'Urimai Kural. Sridhar being a very close associate of Kannadhasan could not utilise him for this film because of political animosity between MGR and Kanndhasan. In the records it was mentioned as "Vaali". MGR, known for his sharpness, immediately detected Kanndhasan's works and when he confronted Sreedhar the latter admitted. But when MGR insisted that due credits must be given to Kanndhasan although their political animosity is a different matter altogether Sreedhar replied that the records have already been printed and it was too late to do anything now. Thats why you can see Vaali's name in the credits. But did Kanndhasan mind it? Not an iota. Bye for now.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 18.104.22.168)
on: Mon Feb 10 03:19:39 EST 2003
The couplet which you had mentioned is found in one of Kanndhasan's own books. Time and again this piece has been going around and in the process the name of Kanndhasan has been left out. Even recently I happened to watch the movie 'Junior Senior' on tv where the hero Mamooty recites this couplet in a suspense form. Alas, the author's name was left out again. If only these movie guys could give the credits it will popularise Kavriarasar's name amongst the present generation.
You are absolutely right. I cannot recall the sources as I usually gather from the various reading materials.
When Rajni Kanth was in the prime of his career he was virtually working around the clock so much so that he was stressed out. Perhaps to relieve the stress he had been over indulging in drinks. It was about this time that he and MGR had a fallout. I do not wish to go into details but a fallout with MGR means one's downfall. Rajni approached K.Balachander, his gurunathar, about his predicament. KB reiterated that life would not be easy if one is not in good terms with MGR. He suggested to Rajni to run wild in Mount Road on a hot mid-day just to prove that whatever he had been doing against MGR was not of his own doing. Rajni did just that but then he was labelled a mad man after this incident. Although it helped the situation with MGR he nevertheless began to feel depressed again. He was acting in the film "Billa" at that time. It was here he met up with Kanndhasan who was doing the songs for the same film. He opened up his emotions to Kaviarasar and the latter grasped the situation well. He assured Rajni that this was a turning point in the life of the former. He further assured that the time was not far for him (Rajni) to overtake the popularity of MGR. In short he will be a superstar soon. It was Kanndhasan who gave him the title 'superstar' way back in 1979. He immediately penned the song "Naatil Enakoru Oor Oondu..." for this film and said that some day he will acknowledge this predictive song. If one were to hear this song in verbatim now he or she will understand Kaviarasar's "dheerka dharishinam". In real life Rajni became an admirer of Kannadhasan after this incident. He even went to Kannadhasan's house to hand deliver the invitation to his wife for his wedding although Kanndhasan was no more around. Such was his indebtedness to Kaviarasar. The above song along with the other song "My name is Billa" has some semblance to the lyrics. Bye for now!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 22.214.171.124)
on: Tue Feb 11 01:44:26 EST 2003
Just for record - the word 'Kannadhasan' has appeared in many songs after his death begining from the song "Kalithaasan Kannathasan" (Soorakottai Singgakutti - 1984)by Vaali. I even heard a latest film song yesterday over the radio(the title I can't remember)incorporating Kaviarasar's name. Correct me if I am wrong to say that amongst the Tamil poets mentioned in films and songs Kanndhasan leads them all. Even Bharathiyar has been relegated. Could it be that Kannadhasan appealed to the general masses than only a confined literary group? Perhaps it is also part of divine's plans as historically we have been ruled and influenced by 'iyal isai and naadagam' which is why we see Tamil cinema stalwarts like Annadurai, MGR, Karunananeedhi, Jayalalitha and Rajni Kanth (the latter although not directly) became popular in politics. By the way, can anyone out there have statistics as to how many songs bear Kanndhasan's name in songs which came after his death in 17.10.1981? It wwill be helpful. For starters I can think of Soorakottai Singgakutti, Annamalai, Arasayil, Minsara Kanna, Kaadhal Mannan, song "Kannadhasane Kannadhasane Vanthuvidu" (film someting ending with..poo).
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Wed Feb 12 09:53:06 EST 2003
I wish to add what Sankar has stated in the start of this thread. Besides 'antha sivagamiyin maganidam' Kannadhasan has also written the song 'sendru vaa magane sendru vaa' for Kamaraj when the latter was invited to attend a meeting in the United Nations. Being illiterate in English he had inferiority complex but Kannadhasan prompted him through this song. The other song was 'ambigaye easwariye ennai aalavantha koil konda kungumakari' in 'Pattikaada Pattanamaa' where the line 'sivagamayin umayavale muthu maari un selvanakkum kaalam undu muthu maari, maharajan vaazhga endru vaazhthu koori intha makkal ellam koora vendum kottaiyeri' was aimed at Kamaraj to recapture the Chief Minister's seat.('kottai'in this context means the CM'S fort). Another song in 'Paadikaatha Meythai'was also meant for Kamaraj. The song is 'padipathinaal arivu petror ayiram peyr undu aanal padikaatha meythai ellam paarinil undu'. When Kannadhasan fell out with Annadurai he wrote the song "annan kaatiya vazhi amma' for the film 'Padithal Mattum Pothuma'and the same year (1962) 'engiranthalum vaazhga' in the film 'Nenjil Oor Aalayam' also for Anna. When he lost the elections he wrote the song 'yaarai engey vaiputhu endru yaarukum theriyile' (Bale Paandiya)and when he temporarily decided to quit politics in 1962 he penned the song 'satti suttathadaa kai vittathadaa' (Aalayamani).
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 188.8.131.52)
on: Wed Feb 12 10:44:30 EST 2003
Oops in my haste to add Sankar's topic on Vaali I wrote on Kannadhasan/Kamraj/Annadurai.
Re -Vaali. A great poet who prefers to be in the low profile. When he was struggling, his pal the late actor V.Gopalakrishnan proposed to Vaali to be Kannadhasan's assistant and he will see to that he becomes one. But Vaali politely declined saying that he wants to carve a name for himself by being independent. At one stage he even contemplated suicide as the odds were against him and he was practically penniless. The day he contemplated suicide V.Gopalakrishnan came to visit him and narrated the stanza 'maayakama kalakkama' written by Kannadhasan which was recorded in the studio just a few moments ago and witnessed by him. Vaali on hearing the line 'unakum keeley ullavar kodi ninaithu paarthu nimmathi naadu' was deeply impressed and motivated. It was as though Kannadhasan wrote the song for him. He changed his mind. No returning to his village or even thinking about suicide. Whether it was part of divine's plan only heaven knows because what I am going to narrate hereafter will make you ponder. Around this time K.S. Gopalakrishnan and Kannadhasan were having a great time drinking to celebrate the success of the film "Sharadha". A friendly argument took place between the two buddies. Kannadhasan was of the belief that "Sharadha" became a success because of his songs whereas KSG was adamant that it was due to a very strong storyline and theme. During this fiendly banter an impromptu decision was taken. The next film by KSG will be without Kannadhasan but with a new songwriter to see whether it will run full house. Around this time when KSG heard about the struggling Vaali he invited him to pen all four songs for the film "Karpagam". It was a god-send invitation for Vaali. He penned the songs 'pakkathu veetu paruva machan', 'mannavane azhalaama', 'athai madi methayadi' and 'aayiram iravugal varuvathondu' (the latter was a novel song as in between gaps the choice was given to listeners to fill in ). The rest is history. The film became an instant hit and Vaali became a celebrity overnight. Kannadhasan accepted his defeat to KSG and had another round of merry making with him. Typical of him! But for his subsequent films KSG used Kannadhasan. A real gentleman. When Kanndhasan first heard the line "velli nilaavil vilakaai eriyum kadalthaan engal veedu" from the songs "tharai meyl pirakka vaithan" (Padahotti)he inquired from his driver as to whether he knew who the lyricist was for this song to which the latter replied in the affirmative. He immediately asked him to drive up to Vaali's abode which was a ramshackled rented room. When Vaali opened the door he could'nt believe himself that it was his idol at the doorstep. Without mincing any words Kannadhasan took out his gold chain and put it around Vaali's neck and blessed him. The latter was dumbfounded. He once remarked that his life time achievement was the endorsement given by Kannadhasan to him as a lyricist.This is why he is not keen in any titles. Many a time his songs were mistaken to be that of Kannadhasan's like 'kan pona pokkile kaal pogalama' (Panam Padaithavan)which he was proud of for he had achieved the status of Kaviarasar.He did'nt mind being misquoted. Both of them were buddies sharing the same bottle. In an immediate tribute to Kannadhasan during the mourning period he described him as 'meesai illatha bharathi, thaadi illatha tagore'. Was it divine's play after all? There is more to situations of Kannadhasan/Vaali which I will narrate later.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Fri Feb 14 05:13:22 EST 2003
Thanks a lot Sankar and Mani. Looks like this thread has become alive with the great Kaviarasar's spirit in this technoligal era! That reminds of the line "varum naalai manithan ezhu ulagai aazha pogiraan" from the great social song "Ondru Engal Jaathiye Ondru Engal Neethiye" (Panakkara Kudumbam -1964). With internet, sms and the likes we are virtually in contact with each other from all corners of the globe. Was'nt it apt for Kannadhasan to forsee the present nearly 40 years ago in this song?
I agree that facts are sometimes subjective because the authors themselves contradict their own statements from time to time. Maybe memory lapse due to age catching up with them. Whatever it is we can infer the essence and draw our own conclusions subject to corrections later.
In one of the messages in this thread a reference to "avanaku enna thoongi vittan" was made. This again reminds me of an episode when MSV purportedly bad mouthed Kannadhasan which news reached the latter. He was visibly upset to understand his 'other half' in the musical profession had made the disparaging comments.This happened when he was working on the film "Nenjil Oor Aalayam" by Sridhar. Typical of him he exploited his mood to vent his feelings through the song "Sonnathu Nee thaana Sol Sol Sol Ennuyire". MSV understood while composing and they made up after that. Usually Kannadhasan's temper is short-lived. He forgives and forgets. This is what I learnt from the various sources which includes media interviews, publications as well as those who were opportuned to socialise with him. The surprising fact is that none of these sources had never hinted or draw negative comments on Kannadhasan. Perhaps is it due to the fact that he has written his own biography with all those sordid negativities about himself so much so he did not leave room for anyone to comment? He himself had time and again reminded the general public that if one were to learn how to live life then he or she should not read his open book. A well known personality once said that next to Mahatma Gandhi it was Kannadhasan who spoke the truth.
I also agree that Kannadhasan seldom keeps track of his work. There is also an amusing anologue to this situation. One sleazy afternoon when Kaviarasar was taking his nap a child was seen seen making noise thus disturbing his siesta. He called out for his wife and asked her to take the child back to its house. His wife replied that the child was theirs and not the neighbour's! He did'nt even keep track of his own of off-springs! Once he completes a project he seldom performs post-mortem on them. It is best left to critics he used to say. He was always thirsty for something new every instant which is why you can see a myriad of songs on the same topic. He was also humble enough to stand corrected in his works. When someone points out to him he makes the necessary corrections if it is apt. Such was his greatness.
Sometimes back I happened to listen to Vairamuthu's live interview over Radio Singapore where he bragged about himself on the song "Vennilave Vennilave" (Minsara Kanavugal). It seems when this film was remade in Hindi the songwriter (north Indian) was amazed over the lyrics and purportedly said that only a world level poet could come up with such lines. As it is a well known fact that poetry should be read in its original language to enjoy its essence. Once translated it loses its punch. How are we to know whether this Hindi poet knows Tamil? The same also goes for a recent incident wherein Vairamuthu said that Prime Minister Vajpayee, a poet himself, enjoyed every bit of Vairamuthu's works. Only God knows whether this is true or otherwise. But then again the recent award of the title "Padmashree" to Vairamuthu is also a question mark. It is a wonder why Kaviarasar was not honoured, albeit posthumously, for all the literary work he had bestowed to the Tamil audience.
Sometimes back I read in Kumudham of an interesting story about a live session calling the spirits of dead personalities by medium Ravichandran. At one seance Kaviarasar was summoned and this question was posed to him - "what do you think of Vairamuthu affixing the title "kaviarasu" after his name?". Kannadhasan's spirit, as usual was witty even after death (so reported Kumudham) to give this reply - "each author is a king of his own work and therefore there is no harm in Vairamuthu doing so". How humble and witty a reply? The whole session was a serious one for readers information.
At an interview over Television Malaysia when a local media personality, Mydi Sultan who is also a literary figure, asked Vairamuthu as to why he has not been given the golden chair for Tamil seat which is still being held by Kannadhasan. Vairamuthu acknowledged the fact that nobody has ever attained the stature of Kannadhasan to be considered for the same and in the same breath appealed to Mydi Sultan and the whole Tamil literary world to recommend the seat for himself (Vairamuthu) since it is still vacant! Mind you this was aired and witnessed by all and sundry.
Kannadhasan held steadfast to his belief according to the Bhagvad Geeth i.e. 'do your duty and do not expect anything in return'.
See you again (Mani, aren't you happy re - Vairamuthu?)
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Mon Feb 17 04:58:53 EST 2003
Thanks Shankar for the comments. As mentioned earlier in this page I stand corrected. As long as the essence is there it should suffice for an interesting forum.
I must be candid with you where information from Kannadhasan's immediate relatives are concerned like Visali and Gandhi. I have found that either the facts have been exaggerated or slanted. Although they claim to have a first hand knowledge it is impossible for Kaviarasar to have intimated to them because of the age difference. When Kaviarasar died Visali was around the age of 5 years. So she must have gathered the pieces here and there to pass off as authoratitive. As for Gandhi he is just managing the materials like any other book shop owner. Thats about it. Whatever tidbits he has is revolved around the family circle and nothing more on the film industry. No malice meant and please for once do not misunderstand me as I hold no personal grudges against them. I had the opportunity to interview Gandhi in Chennai, Kaviarasar's first wife in Singapore and Venkat the last of the off-springs by the latter. Venkat told me point blankly that he knows next to nothing about his father and has to rely on outside sources. I really admire this quiet unassuming guy who is around 34 years now and a PR in Singapore. As for his mother, the first wife of Kaviarasar. Ha, what a sweet innocent housewife! I asked her as to whether Kaviarasar has written any song having her in mind to which she straight away replied in the affirmative. That song? "Thaalayam Poo Mudithu" (Bhaga Pirivinai 1960) as the line "Ponnama" was in reference to her name. (The interview with her was broadcast over Radio Malaysia in 1996 when the programme "Kannadhasan Neram" was in the air for nearly 8 months continously. Thanks to the multiple sponsors).Incidentally this was the song which began the start of mass recognition of Kaviarasar in public theatres. Each time the song scene appeared the patrons clapped and gave a standing ovation. No other poet received such applause prior to this.
The other person whom we met was Rama Kannappan. He can, to a certain degree, be regarded as an authority having grown up with Kaviarasar and being his assistant jotted down all the poems and articles which the latter dictated. But when we met him he was not in good health and his interview was barely audible. Nevertheless we recorded and aired it over Radio Malaysia.
To actually write all those excerpts from these sources as well as what I have read about him from the various magazines and publications from time immemorial will mean running into volumes. However, I will try and refresh my memory and accomodate wherever possible.
By the bye, this thread does not seem to be in continuity. Some or appearing elsewhere in this forum. Could anyone help to organise it into one single thread so that readers will be saved the trouble from clicking here and there?
Bye for now!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 18.104.22.168)
on: Tue Feb 18 05:38:09 EST 2003
Thanks Geeth for the comments.
Yes, Sridhar and Kannadhasan were buddies ever since they started to work together from the "Meenda Sorgam" era circa.1959/1960. "Sumaithaangi" (1963) was a joint effort by both these stalwarts. Whilst shooting the song scene "Manithan Enbavan Deivamaagalam" Kavinjar reminisced his first day of arriving penniless in Chennai way back in the early 40s. It was the very spot in the beach where he was shooed away by policemen for sleeping for the night. He then asked Sridhar to do the song scene with his own eight "Ambassador" cars giving the spotlight on Gemini Ganesh, the hero, instead of the usual studio lights. The scene was not to show of his wealth but to show how a penniless man can achieve such a transition in life purely on true grits. It was a well known fact in the film circles that Kavinjar rarely visited shooting scenes or song recordings even if it were to be his own scriptings. But this scene was an exemption as he wanted to motivate the viwers through his own example. Anyway the song is a gem of a motivation theme even till todate. Incidentally, this was the only film in which Sridhar appears in a very, very minor role.
A retired public prosecutor down here (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) was a close friend of Kavinjar. Each time he goes to Chennai to visit Kavinjar he brings along some foreign beverages for the latter. Typical of Kavinjar, he will immediately call up his buddies like Sridhar, MSV, Balaji etc. for distribution. In the end he gets nothing and settles for the local brew. Such was his genorisity.
Another incident which Sridhar was involved was when Kavinjar was in one of his jovial moods. One afternoon he disguised his voice over the phone and called up MSV to say that he is speaking from Kavinjar's house and that Kavinjar had just passed away! MSV immediately broke down on hearing the news and called up Sridhar and a few others to pay an immediate visit to Kavinjar's house. On reaching they found him happily sipping his favourite brew. Dumbfounded, they could not ask him straightaway. They then joined him for a few rounds. Only later. did Kavinjar intimate to Sridhar that it was he who called and in the same tone said that he was curious to know who will be the first to pay their respects should he really croak. He thanked Sridhar and MSV and at the same time jokingly said that he would not die now as only a handful had turned up!
The other incident involved MGR. As it is a well-known fact that ever since "Meenda Sorgam" and seriously from "Thean Nilavu" Sridhar made it a point to use Kannadhasan in all his subsequent films. For Sridhar capitalised on the emotions of love in nearly all his films and who could be an authority on love songs other than Kavinjar?
When he made "Urirmai Kural" with MGR in 1974 there was political animosity between the former and Kavinjar. But for sentimental reasons he insisted on Kavinjar to pen the song "Vizhiye Kathai Ezhuthu" to which the latter obliged. During the picturisation of the scene MGR, being sharp eyed and knowing Kavinjar's work, asked Sridhar as to who was the actual author for this song. Sridhar admitted that it was Kavinjar's and that Vaali's name had to be used because of the political animosity concerned. MGR rebuked Sridhar saying that an artise must be given due credits for the work done and that his difference with Kavinjar was of no relation to the song. Anyway, even though MGR tried to amend the credits it could not be done as the records had been been already published bearing Vaali's name.Bye the bye, KJ Jesudoss got a new lease of life from this song onwards and shot to popularity overnight.
Do you know the very first scene by Jayalalitha when she faced the camera was the song picturisation of "Kannan Ennum Mannan Peyrai Solla Solla" penned by Kavinjar? Sridhar was known to shoot a song scene first in all his movies for sentimental reasons. Perhaps it could be this very reason that she contributed and consented to officiate Kavinjar's statue in T.Nagar, Chennai in late 1994.
I will try and refresh my memory re- Sridhar/Kannadhasan combo and give inputs later.
Coming to another great producer & actor K. Balaji I would like to share the all-time gem of an info with all of you.
When Balaji was producing "Neethi" (1972/3)the remake of the Hindi "Dushman" he told the scene situation of the hero smashing his bottle on the road whilst pledging not to drink from the very moment. He asked Kavinjar to do a suitable song for this situation. Kavinjar came up with the song "Naalai muthal kudikka matteyn" but Balaji protested saying that the scene calls for an instant surrender to drinks. Kavinjar coolly reminded Balaji (this part must be reported in verbatim as otherwise it will lose its punch) - "dey, neeyum oru kudikaaran naanum oru kudikaaran. Entha kalathildaa oru kudikaaran indrodu kudikka matteyn endru sathiyam seythu irukiraan?". Balaji agreed with Kavinjar that tipplers are noted for postponing such decisions. The song became an instant hit. The lyrics in it are such a gem that we can actually hold an intellectual discussion having them as a theme.
Bye for now, and again can please anyone do something about this thread going haywire?
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 22.214.171.124)
on: Wed Feb 19 04:31:38 EST 2003
Geeth, incidentally this song still remains banned in Radio Malaysia due to the controversial line "...iraiva nee kooda kudikaaran". The line was tantamount to belittling God, so felt the authorities.It was deemed that it goes against one of the five principles advocated by the Malaysian governrment amongst which spirituality takes the lead.
Where have the others who showed interest in this thread earlier have gone to?
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Thu Feb 20 05:25:22 EST 2003
Anwarm, I must be frank with you re- P. Susheela.
Kannadhasan once commented that his lyrics were well conveyed through the expressions and vocubalary of P. Susheela although the latter was a Telugu. I have seen countless interviews with PSuseela in the tv as well as in weekly and monthly magazines, but sad to say, never came across even a passing reference of Kannadhasan by her.
Kannadhasan introduced K. Jamuna Rani as well as promoted L.R. Easwari. For his film "Karuppu Panam" the song "ammama keladi konjam" MSV recommended PSusheela but Kannadhasan insisted that LREswari be given the opportunity. The end result was more than expected. The same goes with the song "Pattathu raani..." in 'Sivantha Mann' where Kannadhasan insisted that LREaswari sings this piece. That song was a hit too. Could this favouritism be the reason as to why P.Susheela refuses to comment about Kannadhasan?
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 188.8.131.52)
on: Sat Feb 22 10:11:38 EST 2003
I could't resist writing again lest I forget!
As fans will know the Non-Aligned Movement Convention is being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 20-25 February 2003. The whole city is abuzz with this great international event where heads of the third world countries have converged to deliberate important issues.
It was apt for Radio Malaysia to broadcast the song "Oru Thaai Makkal 'NAM' Enbom" on the morning of 20.2.03. Kaviarasar has decreed that his songs will continue to live for generations to come for all people and situations. The opening line of the song incorporates the word "NAM" which is the popular abbreviation for the Non-Aligned Movement in English. The NAM seeks peace and world order. Was'nt our Kaviarasar a visionary by giving words like 'samarasam engal vazhvenbom'in that song for a universal cause?
Incidentally this was the first song to be mouthed by Kamalhassan when he was a child artiste. I remember an interview in Ananda Vikatan some years ago when Kamal was trying his hand at poetry .He paid tribute to Kaviarasar. He admitted that he grew up with Kannadhasan's vocubalory along with guys from his generation. Perhaps this may have influenced him to go into serious poetry. I understand he is about to release his works shortly.
I also saw a tv interview conducted by Kamal with Sivaji somewhere in 1984 where Kamal praised the latter for his superb acting in the song scene "ponaal pogattum podaa". Sivaji, in all humbleness, corrected Kamal by saying that the credit should go to Kannadhasan for his penmanship of the said song. In the next breath he said with emotion that "namakellam thathuvam sonna kavingar ippo avare thathuvum aagivittaar" and wiped away his tears which was rolling down his cheeks when speaking of Kaviarasar.
Kamal should consider himself lucky for he acted as Kannadhasan in "Varumayin Niram Sigappu" and the following year mouthed the latter's last song "Kanne Kalai Maane" in 'Moondram Pirai'.
Did anyone notice that the words "ka" has been magically entwined in Kannadhasan's's life? His first song was "kalangathiru maname" from the film "Kanniyin Kaathali". His last song was "kanne kalai maane" mouthed by Kamalhassan. Of course, there is one other analysis for whom this song was unwittingly meant for. Sorry fans, I can't share this confidential piece as it will be tantamount to invading the privacy and origin of an All-India cine artiste who reigned supremacy in both Madras and Bombay! I hope you will understand my reluctance.
Bye for now and hope to hear from many as possible so as to keep my spirits going. Until now no one has guided me as to the splitting of this thread which I find quite irritating. Can anyone out there help?
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Sun Feb 23 10:39:37 EST 2003
Saravanan, yes I agree with you but that song was not by Kannadhasan. What I meant to say was that was the first song Kamal mouthed written by Kannadhasan.
Who have read Swami Vivekananda's thoughts and reflections? I am afraid not all of us have read on him fully. This fact was known to Kaviarasar and he was saddened by the fact that this great Hindu monk who took the west by storm was not fully understood by his own countrymen. He decided to do something about this. As you know, when Kaviarasar writes he will ensure that it must reach the masses with simplicity of language. Thus the song "Aaru Maname Aaaru Anthan Aandavan Kattalai Aaru" was born (film "Aandavan Kattalai"). After this song was released even the layman was opportuned to learn about Swami Vivekananda;s thought.The entire philosphy made compact in just 6 stanzas! Thats the genius in Kannadhasan.
Talking about spirituality Kaviarasar encompassed all religions as evidenced by his award winning song "Ganga Enbathu Raman Nadhi"
But in person Kaviarasar was a devout Krishna bakthar. Although belonging to the Chettiar community who reckons Lord Murugan as their deity Kaviarasar begged to be different. No wonder the community shunned him during the early stages! That is a different story which I will narrate later.
In early 1972 Kaviarasar made preparations for his third (or fourth?) daughter's wedding. The date was set and barely three days into the wedding he was in a dilemna. Someone who promised to advance the money for the wedding disappointed Kaviarasar at the eleventh hour. Poor chap, it was during these type of situations he will cry like an innocent child. The good Lord had heard him cry. Continue to read fans.
He had an appointment to write songs for the film "Deivam", a Devar banner.Kaviarasar will put aside all his personal problems when it comes to work. He dictated the song "Marutha Malai Maamaniye Murugaya Devarin Kulam Kaatkum Velayya". When the assistant read back the dictation Chinnappa Devar who was in the adjoining room quickly came out and asked that the song be read out again. He was immensely impressed with the line "Devarin Kulam Kaatkum Velayya" as though it was meant to him. Immediately he gave Kaviarasar 1 lakh for the song and also gave him permission to make use of his personal wedding hall for his daughter's wedding.
Kaviarasar was dumbfounded as the song was written spontaneously and that too in praise of Lord Muruga. Nevertheless the money came as a saviour and the wedding was well conducted. As Kaviarasar was entering the hall he heard his own song "Poo Mudipaal" (Nenjirikkum Varai) being played in the gramaphone. Later he reflected that although he is a Krishna bakthar nevertheless it was Lord Murugan's grace that saved him from an embarassing situation.He understood the divinely drama. The good Lord came to his aid through one of His forms.
In the late eighties I happen to hear an interview over the radio whilst driving but I could'nt make out clearly whom Kunnakudi was referring to due to transmission signal interferences. But later I concluded taht Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan talked about Kaviarasar. The story goes like this. Kunnakudi likes to blow his own 'trumpet'about his ability to handle the violin to his terms(pardon the pun).It was at Devar's studio that both he and Kaviarasar got into a friendly argument over each other's talents. It was agreed that for each stanza Kunnakudi plays Kannadhasan must immediately pen suitable lyrics before he could go on to the next stanza. Thats how the birth of the song "Marutha Malai Maamaniye" was born.Music for this film is by Kunnakudi. Remember, the variations of the concluding stanza in that song? Kunnakudi purposefully made it difficult so that Kannadhasan will lose out.But the reverse took place. Kunnakudi said in the interview that after this banter he put down his violin and embraced Kannadhasan admitting that his violin lost to the latter's pen. It was at this time when Devar heard the commotion and came out. The rest of the story is as above. I am still perplexed that for a self-praise man like Kunnakudi would he have surrendered just like that? But thats what he said, in the interview.
The first story was told by Kannadhasam himself in one of his books. But if the second story by Kunnakudi is to be taken seriously than I must say Kaviarasar was all humble as he could have easily boasted about this triumph over Kunnakudi.But he did'nt. Thats Kannadhasan.
That also reminds me of one rare occasion where Kaviarasar blew his own trumpet.
In 1962 when the then Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Government was treating the Tamils badly Kaviarasar led a protest rally against the former to the premises of the Ceylon Attache in Madras. When this news reached the authorities in Ceylon they imposed a blanket ban on all Kannadhasan songs over Radio Ceylon with immediate effect. But after a week it so happened that the ban was unofficially lifted and Radio Ceylon began to broadcast Kannadhasan songs. When Kaviarasar heard this he immediately straightened his shirt collar and with a smirk remarked that without his songs Radio Ceylon will go bust! It was true because that was a period where every other third song released was by Kannadhasan! Thats bragging with a touch of wit and truth!
See you again and by the bye can I know how many are reading this? Just log in your name and place of domicile as I am curious to know the global response.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Mon Feb 24 10:05:34 EST 2003
Thanks for the wonderful feedback folks. It is indeed heartening to note that Kaviarasar still lives globally.
There is a history as to how Kaviarasar christened himself 'Kannadhasan'. When he applied to join a publication way back in the forties the editor who interviewed him asked whether he had experience in editorial work. Kaviarasar replied in the affirmative. The editor then asked under what pen name did he work to which Kaviarasar spontaneously replied 'Kannadhasan'. That name just came to his mind instantly it seems. The truth was he had no experience at all in editorials save for the occasional poems he wrote under different pen names! Just to get the job he had to tell a white lie. Of course, the name stuck to him permanently overshadowing his maiden name and the rest is history. Kaviarasar recollected this incident to youths much later when he was reigning supreme to take up challenges in an unknown field just like what he did.He also advised them to make the best of their respective jobs to carve a name for themselves.
I am sorry, I don't have any background information on the songs "katti thangam" and "nilavai paarthu" except for the fact that the former is still regarded as a gem when comes to description of one's sweetheart in plain Tamil literature. The latter song was from the film "Savaley Samali". Incidentally this title was lifted from Kaviarasar's song 'savaley samali' (film: Uyiraa Maanama). All the songs were penned by Kannadhasan except for 'aanaiku oru kaalam vanthal poonaiku oru kaalam varum therinjiko'. This song was written by Malliam Rajagopal, the producer himself. But then the audience still think it was penned by Kannadhasan due to similiarities. Malliam was indeed proud to be equated with Kanadhasan.
Coming to the "Tribute to Kannadhasan' event which was held in Kuala Lumpur on 28 September 2002. Yes I agree with your observations. Although it was a record turnout of the century for a literary event nevertheless except for Sugi Sivam the rest, especially TMS, deviated from the objective.It appeared that the speakers were using that platform to promote their public speaking ability! Since 1986, Jasmine Productions, a non commercial concern, has been hosting annual tributes to Kaviarasar without fail. Admission is free and the organisers take this opportunity to fete literary figures in Malaysia and occasionally invite speakers from India and Singapore. The credit must go to the late Alan Kandiah, Karu Karthik and Thangamani. It was a pity that the so-called organisers of the grand event never mentioned this good work. For readers info, not even Bharathiyar or Bharathidasan have been so honoured and continued to be honoured in Malaysia.
It will be unfair if I fail to stick to my original objective i.e. background info on Kannadhasan's songs whilst addressing the queries from readers. Okay, here it goes.
When director A. Bhimsing, Viswanathan Ramamurthi and Kaviarasar sat to work on a song for the film 'Paava Mannipu' there was a telephone call for the latter. He excused himself and answered the phone. MSV noticed that Kaviarasar's face which had been hitherto full of life suddenly shifting gears to melancholy. After placing the receiver back on its handle Kaviarasar returned to the spot where all were gathered to compose the song for the situation. MSV did enquire from Kaviarasar whether he was alright to which the latter, with his usual smile, said yes. After listening to the situation of the story he immediately wrote the song and collected his dues and left in a hurry. MSV was curious over the whole incident and decided to play detective.In the evening on the same day he dropped by Kaviarasar's house and asked him the same question. This time Kaviarasar told him all. It seems that his creditors took judgement debt notice and were already in the house to seal the same. That was when he received the phone call from his household. MSV was further shocked to understand that the song he had written earlier that day was for Kaviarasar himself. The song? "Silar Sirippaar Silar Azhuvaar" (film: 'Paava Mannippu". Whats so great about it? The line "....kaalam oru naal maarum nam kavalaigal yaauvum theerum, vanthathai enni azhugindren varuvathai enni sirikkindren' was a moral booster to himself. He was sad that such an embarassing situation took place ("vanthathai enni azhugindren") but happy that he would resolve this matter after getting the cash for the song. He paid this cash to the notice servers to postpone their action. The words "varuvathai enni sirikindren" was a reference to the cash he is going to get after writing this song to help him out of this predicament!
MSV said that any man in that situation will naturally excuse himself from work to go to his house. But Kaviarasar took it cooly and attended to his work first. Thats Kannadhasan!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 18.104.22.168)
on: Mon Feb 24 10:15:44 EST 2003
"Katti thangam" is from the film "Thaaye Kaatha Thanayan" (1962). "Thanga Churangam" was released in 1969.
The info which I gathered from Kaviarasar's family members was that many heroines of yesteryears used to frequent his house just to pour out their woes. Kaviarasar was regarded as a true friend, philospher and guide whom one can freely open his or her heart. Even male artistes used to drop by to get his advice. Just to hear him give assurances were enough for them. Those days it was a belief that whatever a poet says will come true. Thats another story which I will narrate later.
Therefore, to my knowledge I do not think this particular song was aimed at any heroine. Conversely, Kaviarasar has been known to be sattirical of Tamil film heroines especially on their waistlines and their figures as a whole!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 22.214.171.124)
on: Tue Feb 25 09:43:06 EST 2003
Yes, Shankar I agree with you regarding the bit on Pillayar Patti. I have been there also. That particular posters both large and pocket-size ones are popular here in Malaysia. I am also carrying one in my wallet with Kaviarasar's lines above.
According to Kaviarasar's immediate family members Pillayar Patti temple was founded by their (kaviarasar's) ancestors. This is subject to verification though. Kaviarasar had made only passing references about Pillar Patti in his books. However, he had written quite a lot on Malaiarasi Amman, the village deity in Sirukudal Patti. I had been to this temple one late night and the caretaker was generous enough to show me around including kaviarasar's home of birth at that time of visit it was in a dilipated condition) and the much talked about pond where he used to write his poems during his teens. I felt a chill in me when walking around the whole area on a quiet night. It was as though Kaviarasar's spirit was accompanying me! As as a souvenir I took one broken slab of stone from Kaviarasar's birth home and am still revering it in my prayer room.
Whilst writing the above the song "Naalu Peyrukku Nandri" was aired over the radio which prompted me to add a bit. To my knowledge no other poet, be it western or eastern, has written a song purportedly sung by a dead person. I stand corrected. The last lines "vaazhumpothu varuvorkellam vaarthaiyale nandri solvom vaarthai indri pogum pothu mounathale nandri solvom, antha naalu perukku nandri" especially touches the hearts of mortal souls. A dead body saying thanks to the four who shouldered it to the grave!
The above song was from the film "Sangey Muzhangu" (MGR-Letchumi starrer - 1970) which brings to my mind another background story. It will be very interesting as it is going to touch on one of Kaviarasar's favourite past-time. I will do it tomorrow as time does'nt permit me now. Bye for now.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Wed Feb 26 03:19:40 EST 2003
As it is a well-known fact that Kannadhasan consumed alcholic drinks. Note that I used the word 'consume'as many negative remarks have been made against him on account of this weakness by his opponents. A veteran trade union leader in Malaysia who was a very close friend to Kaviarasar once said this to me. 'I have joined Kannadhasan in his many drinking sessions with his friends although I (trade union leader)myself am a teetotaler. Not once I saw him drunk or staggering in spite of consuming heavily. It is usually those friends around him who become stupor". No wonder he was regarded as "thalladum bothayilum kavi paadum kavingyar".
He once noted in his autobiography that he seldom writes once he starts drinking. However, he had had made exceptions to this rule. 'Ulagam Piranthathu Enakaaga Odum Nadigalum Enakkaaga'(Paasam ), 'Aandavan Padaichan Engitta Koduthaan' (Nichiya Thamboolam) 'Iraivinil Aattam Pagalil Thookam' (Navarathiri) etc. were written when he was in good 'spirits' (pardon the pun)!.
But there was one song where he deliberately drank to the maximum to write it. When K.Balaji was producing the film "Vasantha Maaligai"(1972)he showed the clippings of the song scenes from the original Telugu version in his private theatre. When Kaviarasar saw the scene it rang a bell. He was nostalgic about his younger days and his old flame. This flame used to repeatedly advise Kannadhasan to refrain from drinking as it was detrimental to his health and curtail his talents as a songwriter. Thus he wrote the song "kalai magal kai porule unnai kavanikka aal illaye" pacifying himself whilst being nostalgic about his earlier days! The 'kai porul' in this context refers to nobody but himself! One of the rare occasions where he wrote for himself.
Coming to 'Sangey Muzhangu'. MGR wanted a song depiciting the evils of drinking for this movie as it was at that period that the ban on public drinking was lifted. Many distressed housewives appealed in person to MGR to do something. What can MGR do as a person? Naturally he sought the advice of Kannadhasan who was an 'authority' on this subject. Together they came up with the song "Silar Kudipathu polle nadippaar Silar nadippathu polle kudipaar, Silar paatinil mayanguvaar, Silar bottleil mayanguvaar". A beautiful fast paced philosophical dance song with MGR and Helen. Thats the genius in Kannadhasan. He can glorify the effects of drinking and at the same time spell out the evils of consuming the same. This song bears testimony to the ill effects of drinking by none other than the 'authority' himself.
Whilst on this subject let me narrate another background story.
Once when Kannadhasan, Viswanathan Ramamurthy and A.Bhimsing sat in session to write and compose a situational song for the film "Phazani" (1964/5)in the studio floor, a studio hand was seen walking with a foreign whiskey bottle. Kannadhasan immediately stopped the boy and enquired as to the price of the imported stuff. That boy replied that it was Rs.1500. Immediately Kaviarasar passed the hat around to collect but it barely reached Rs500. Asking the boy to wait Kannadhasan telephoned his brother AL Srinivasan who was the producer of "Pazhani" at the latter's house asking him to advance Rs1000. ALS wanted to know the urgency and Kannadhasan in all innocence told him the truth. ALS chided him over the phone for being a wastrel and bluntly refused to advance any money.
After putting down the receiver Kannadhasan told the studio hand to try his luck somewhere else and back he went to the business of writing the situational song. MSV and the gang were eager to know the outcome of the telephone call to which Kannadhasan replied that today was not their day! He wrote the song and scooted off. Only when composing the tune did MSV realise Kaviarasar's frustration over the incident. The song was "Annan Ennada Thambi Ennadaa Avasaramaana Ulagathile". The 'avasaram' in this context was the foreign liquor!
Bye for now!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 188.8.131.52)
on: Thu Feb 27 10:06:00 EST 2003
Well folks it is indeed heartening to see your inputs as well as feedbacks.
Yes, when kavingyar saw the Telugu version of 'Vasantha Maaligai' ,as mentioned earlier, after first penning the song 'kalaimagal kai porule' we wrote the subsequent ones the following day but with the nostalgia still fresh in him. Thats why all the songs mentioned above are sort of inter-related with alcohol as the theme.
Re-'16 Vayithinile'. Once a reader asked K.Bhagyaraj in his weekly "Bhagya" as to whether the former had the chance to meet up with Kaviarasar. He replied that the first time ever he saw our legend was when the latter was in session with Bharathiraja and Ilayaraja to compose two songs for '16 Vayahtinile'. Bhagyaraj was the assistant director for that film. He just stood there speechless while Ilayaraja was giving the saranam Kaviarasar penned all the lines in a jiffy especially for the song 'aatukutti muttai ittu'. Hitherto he Bhagyraj)was used to seeing lyricists struggling with the appropriate lines for song situations but this was totally a new experience for him. He could'nt believe his eyes as Kannadhasan appeared simple and humble throughout although being a veteran in the cine industry and working with green horns like him (Bhagyaraj), Barathiraja and Ilayaraja.
Sankar, as I had mentioned earlier in this thread MSV sometimes gets his facts mixed up. Typical of him! That reminds me of one incident when kaviarasar was in a studio composing songs for a film on the same floor where MSV was struggling to lend tune for the song "sindunathiyinil isai.." (Kai Kodutha Deivam - 1964). He went over to the studio where kaviarasar was in and asked him whether he could change the line 'sundara teluginil paatisaithu' especially the word 'paatisaithu'. His argument was that it sounded like 'patti setthu' (grandmother died)when read in combination. Kaviarasar in all frankness told him that he did not write this song but Bharathiyar. Without waiting for him to finish the sentence MSV started looking for Bharathiyar in the studio!
According to Kaviarasar music is MSV's world and he his not bothered by any worldy affairs. There are lots of stories of this kind which I will narrate later. Hence when MSV tells sosmething especially where it involves dates, names of persons etc. one should not take it seriously.
When I wrote about MGR-Kannadhasan relationship earlier I forgot to mention one pertinent incident.
When BR Banthulu was producing and directing 'Aayirathil Oruvan'(1965) MGR insisted on a motivational song to be sung on the ship's deck in the middle of the ocean. Banthulu tried his best to extract such a song from Vaali and other cine poets but not to his or MGR's satisfaction. Finally, Banthulu, a long time friend of kaviarasar, hesitatingly suggested the latter's name to MGR. During this period their political rivalry was at its peak. MGR had repeatedly told all and sundry that his political animosity with kaviarasar should in no way interfere with their respective professions. But it was the producers who dared not ask Kannadhasan in for fear of reprisal from MGR. Of course, Devar was an exception.
MGR agreed to the suggestion which set Banthulu to telephone kaviarasar in his home. Setting aside all formalities he (kaviarasar) asked Banthulu of the song situation and before he could finish he gave him the first stanza over the phone and promised that he will come to the studio the following day to complete the same. The stanza was "atho antha paravaigal pola vaazhavendum, itho intha alaigal pola aadavendum". MGR was satisfied with the stanza at the first glance itself. Kaviarasar came the following day as promised to complete the song. MGR was impressed with this song and he requested for two more songs from kaviarasar amongst which were the classics "odum megangale oru sol keliro" and "naanamo". MGR commented to those present in kaviarasar's absence that no one can beat the genuis in Kannadhasan. He remarked that all the other poets were blank as to motivation in the middle of the sea for them to be inspired to come out with a suitable song. But the genius Kannadhasan saw the birds and waves in his mind where others had failed to notice in their imagination - they only noticed the vast ocean below and the sky above.
Incidentally this song "atho antha paravai pola", it seems, has been translated with a few changes here and there to serve as the national anthem for Vietnam. I read this piece of info sometimes ago.
See you all on March 3 as I am very busy with some important office meetings.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Sat Mar 1 10:40:38 EST 2003
Sankar, I will touch on your second query first.
"Kodi asainthathum Kaatru Vanthatha" (Paarthal Pasitheerum 1962)
"Nanomo Innum Naanomo" (Ayirathil Oruvan 1965)
"Thottukollavaa" (Maatukaara Velan 1970) etc. In fact, I had compiled this bit under the classification "question & answer songs by Kannadhasan" which was aired over radio. Give me some time to look for the recording.
As regards to the relationship of Shivaji and Kannadhasan - they were both pals during their budding stages. They all (including MGR, SSR) belonged to the same political party - DMK. In fact, Shivaji's trip to Tirupathi in the mid fifties changed the course of Tamil Nad political history. The party was using Shivaji to promote their ideals through the film media. As it was a well known fact that spirituality under any guise was considered a taboo to DMK at that time. Even our kaviarasar had once rubbed off his vibuthi and kunkumam on his forehead so that he will be allowed to speak at a DMK political rally! He was forced to become an aethist when being in DMK and strongly followed its ideals although deep in his heart he was still a spiritual person.
Shivaji's trip to Tiruppathi incurred the wrath of both the leaders and supporters of DMK which resulted in him coming out of the party. Kannadhasan took it seriously and even had a slight brush off with Shivaji. After this incident they both became bitter enemies. This was also the time when the party began to promote MGR in place of Shivaji. The rest is history.
During this time he produced "Sivagangai Seemai' with SSRajendran in the lead just to prove that he too can make a film like "Veera Pandiya Kattabomman" (1959) without Shivaji. The timing of the film was such that it failed in the box office despite having a good story line and punchy dialogues.
During this wilderness Kannadhasan did write a few songs for Shivaji films such as "Bhaga Privinai" etc. But when Shivaji produced "Pasa Malar" in 1961 he had to engage Kannadhasan through an intermediary to pen the songs. When the film was released it became a milestone of sorts for the Tamil film industry. Shivaji, realising that one feature of the film's success was attributed to the songs, arranged for a grand dinner reception with its attendant booze etc. for Kannadhasan. At that function he publicly embraced Kannadhasan saying that "kavingyan endral nee thaanda kavingyan".
Shivaji further noted that the lines 'nathiyil vilayadi kodiyil thalai seevi' (song: Malarnthu Malaraaga)was a literature song well diluted so that even the illiterate folks could understand the essence. After this incident, their animosity was forgotten. Practically it was kaviarasar's songs for the next decade or so in all of Shivaji's films. Incidentally both joined Congress later.
In Shivaji's subsequent film "Kunkumam"(1963)under the banner of Rajamani films (his mother) Kaviarasar even wrote the title song "Kunkumam mangayin mangalam kunkumam" and added the line "rajamaniyin annayin neytryil kaatum kunkumam" having Shivaji's mother, Rajamani, in mind at that time. The kumkuman on Rajamani's head was prominent despite having a frail body. Kaviarasar was a keen observer all right.
When Shivaji produced "Puthiya Paravai" it was Kannadhasan again for the songs. Kaviarasar had a mental block as to the right type of lyrics for a pathos song. During one of his visit to Shivaji's house one early morning he observed the latter in a tense mood looking for an attire wich had been misplaced by one of his household member. He was heard mumbling that there is no peace in his own house. Eureka! kaviarasar got the starting lines "Engey Nimmathi Engey Nimmathi". When Shivaji settled down later after all the tension Kaviarasar asked him to exhibit the action and reaction of a person who is in search of peace through bodily movements. When Shivaji did just that Kaviarasar immediately completed the rest of the song in Shivaji's house itself. Imagine getting an inspiration from the hero himself through the latter's frustration! Incidentally, this was the only song till todate to have accomodated a full orchestra (100 instruments).Music: Viswanathan Ramamurthy.
Bye for now!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Sun Mar 2 04:21:06 EST 2003
Thanks Harris and Sankar for the comments.
Even Rama Kanappan, Kaviarasar's assistant after Panchu Arunasalam, noted in his book that in all probabilities Kaviarasar's soul should be resting in Bhirundavanam in the heavens above and singing live songs of praises to Lord Krishna himself. That much he had penned about Lord Krishna.
Just because Ilayaraja and Gangai Amaran were at the airport to see Kaviarasar off to Chicago (the last) both claimed the rights to the song "pullanguzgal koduthha moongigale". However, MSV makes it a point to render this song in practically all of his concerts. Of course he had changed the last stanza as mentioned above. One can actually see him choking with emotion when he mentions kaviarasar's name at the last stanza. Such was his affection for kaviarasar.
In the mid fifties Kannadhasan and NSKrishnan (another legend)were boozing in the latter's house. NSK related to him as to how is gardener cried to him over the latter's son who left him after getting married. NSK added that the gardener, out of spite, preferred to tend to coconut trees which was part of his profession instead of tending to his own off-spring. ("thennaiya petthaal ilaneeru pillaya petthaal kanneeru"). This line invoked much thought in kaviarasar and he was awaiting a suitable film song to incorporate it.
Nearly 15 years later he infused this line into the song "yaarai nambi naan poranthaen pongadaa ponga" (Enga Oor Raja 1968.) That was a terrible long period all of you might think. But the accompanying incident puts to rest your opinion.
One morning kaviarasar was in his office-cum-studio, probably busy with his own film "Karuppu Panam" when a young boy appeared. He inquired as to who he was and the boy replied that he was the new office boy to work for his studio. Kaviarasar thence asked him for his name and the boy replied "Thirumaal Azhagar". This name stuck to him and in a short while he was on his way the studio where the film "Kalai Koyil" (1964) [ jointly produced by MSViswanathan & Sridhar]was being produced to write the songs. Whilst in the car he was still thinking of the young boy's unique name and he wasted no time to include it in the song "deviyin thirumugam oruvanuku thirumaal azhagar iruvaruku" in a sitational song scene for this film, all within a matter of minutes! This goes to show that whatever impresses kaviarasar must be shared with the masses no matter what the time frame is.
The song "aasayae alaipole nammellam malai mele" (Thai Piranthal Vazhi Pirakkum" 1958)was written on a cold night, in a car, on the silver foil of a cigarette packet when he could not find a piece of paper. Kaviarasar and gang; which included Tiruchi Loganathan, were returning home after attending a function outstations when they were put on traffic hold at a railway crossing. It was during this time that kaviarasar had the inspiration to write this song. Tiruchy Loganathan was much impressed with the lyrics that he begged kaviarasar to recommend that he be given the chance to sing this song. The wish was fulfilled and the song is still a moral booster even after more than 4 decades.
Bye for now!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 18.104.22.168)
on: Tue Mar 4 02:13:53 EST 2003
Sankar, before I comment on the song from Chitthi let me also add on to Haris comments. Please request the admin. folks to combine all the threads on this subject into one for a free flow reading.
That is one song which is meant for the Indian women for all generations passed and yet to come. I used to wonder whether kaviarasar had entered the spirit and soul of an Indian woman to write this gem. He had greatly transferred the feelings and emotions of a female from cradle to grave into this song. Of course, there are other songs by him expressing feminine views but this one still awes me. Even a female songwriter would lose out. No wonder he was a ladies' man!
Incidentally "Chitthi" (1966) was telecast over the Malaysian satellite television somewhere in late December 2002. Preceding this movie was the "Chitthi" tele serial which is still being telecast in its current season. Upon seeing the two Chitthis it set my mind working. Even in that old film it was a heroine-based theme. Could it be that MR Radhika got the inspiration from the song "kaalam ithu kaalam ithu" for her to produce the "Chitthi" serial?
When kaviarasar was in the height of comtempt of the human race for cheating him he penned his emotions, for a change, for the heroine. That song was "Yaarai thaan Nambuvathu Peythai Nenjam, Ammama Boomyile Yaavum Vanjam" (Parakkum Paavai 1966).
That also reminds me of two incidents.
Padmini who was at her pinnacle got married and settled down in the US. After a shortwhile she decided to return to her acting career in India. She was signed for the film "Kaatu Roja" (1963). When the other heroines at that period of time heard of her comeback they did a lot of backbiting for she had the talent of classical dancing to enhance her career which they lacked. Padmini cried to kaviarasar over the behaviour of these actresses. As usual, kaviarasar penned a special song for her, which he said will be her moral booster. That song was "Yenadi Roja" and the line "ponaval indru vanthu vittal endru punnagai seythaiyo.." "...ethhanai kaalangal maarinalum nan endrum ilamayamadi..". It was rumoured that this song was directed at Saroja Devi for the word "roja" in the begining of the song implied this.
For the film "Manapandhal" (1961) kaviarasar penned all the songs but one song's lyrics were unintentional but were apt for the situation. The two brothers Gunasekaran and Kulasekaran were in love with the same girl. Although Gunasekaran (SSR) was her lover, due to a twist of fate, she ends up marrying Kulasekaran (Asohan). The song "Orey Raagam Orey Thaalam" in this film has this line "andru gunathodu....& indru kulathlodu manam seythu nindren" (sorry, I cant remember right now the remaining lines) happened to be the crux of the story! Gunam and Kulam, ha!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 22.214.171.124)
on: Fri Mar 7 04:44:25 EST 2003
Sridhar, I am compelled to concur with you that Kaviarasar seldom talked about TMS for reasons unknown. Could it be that the latter is fond of blowing his own trumpet which characteristic despised the former?
When Kaviarasar penned the song "Kadavul Manithaanaga Pirakkaa Vendum" ('Vaanambadi' 1963 - Kannadhasan's own production)he had originally used the word "saagavendum" instead of "vaadavendum" in the line "avan kaathiluthu vethanayil vaadavendum". TMS pointed out to Kannadhasan that God is immortal and therefore the word "saagavendum" should be removed. After a moment's thought Kaviarasar agreed to TMS' opinion and quickly substituted the word with "vaadavendum".
When TMS released his devotional album he invited Kannadhasan to launch the same. At the launching ceremony Kannadhasan saw similarities between his work and that of TMS in the lyrics of the devotional songs. When he asked TMS about this the latter proudly replied him that since he has sung hundreds of songs written by Kannadhasan it is only natural that he gets influenced by his style of writing!
Speaking of playback singers, Kannadhasan had one unfulfilled personal ambition. Although every playback singer had sung his songs (until early 1983, of course) MKThiagaraja Bhagavathar did not sing even one song.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Mon Mar 10 04:56:32 EST 2003
Some snippets on Kaviarasar -
When kaviarasar married (his third) in the mid seventies he insisted on protocol and marriage formalities such as "maapillai azhaippu" which is usually meant for first-timers. He was stubborn like a child until these formalities were met!
Once, en route his alma mater after returning from a social function with his friends which included publisher of Vaanathi Pagam, he asked his chaueffeur to stop by. He got down from his car and pissed on the wall of his former school and back again into his vehicle. Until they reached Madras he did not comment on this sudden behaviour. His co-passengers were puzzled as to why he chose his former school of all the places to 'download' although he did not have the urge as in an emergency. They concluded that it could be that his former teacher, Appadurai, had once chided him saying that he was only fit to be a cowherd! But that was decades ago. Just to prove him wrong he did that childish thing!
Kaviarasar had many nicknames whilst schooling. Because of his height he was known as "kokku Muthiah", because of his fondness for food "saappatu Muthiah" and for his frequent abscondment from classes "kambi Muthiah" (from the idiom "kambiya neetu").
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 188.8.131.52)
on: Fri Mar 14 02:42:49 EST 2003
Again something on KBalachandar and Kannadhasan.
Sometimes back the producers of "Varavu Ettanna Selavu Patthana" invited KB for their 100th day function. KB accepted the invitation and rummaged through his old records and got hold of his scripts written for "Bama Vijayam (1967)". At the function, when he was invited to address, he waved the scripts and said that although written nearly a quarter of a century ago he still cherishes it for sentimental reasons. And then he came to the point. He told kaviarasar that the crux of the story was that of a middle-class family who is not budget conscious. He wanted kaviarasar to pen a suitable comical but philosophical song for this theme. Thus kaviarasar came out with the song "varavu ettana selavu patthana" in simple layman's words. Perhaps this was the begining of the KB-Kannadhasan era where the crux of the story was told in a single song. KB told the audience of the greatness of Kannadhasan and he was also gratified to note that he was invited to attend the celebrations of the same title film which rightly should be credited to kaviarasar.
Kaviarasar was not fond of listening to his own songs but there was one exeption. Somewhere in 1981 carnatic play-back singer Balamaurali Krishna paid a courtesy call on kaviarasar at his home upon learning that the latter was indisposed. Upon entering his room he found kaviarasar in a pensive mood listening to his (Balamurali) rendition on the cassette recorder. The song was "Mounathil Vilayadum Manasaathchiye" (Nool Veli 1980)- a KB's film. It was a rare occasion for kaviarasar to be seen listening to his own song. Could it be premonition of his death (he died the same year) that prompted him to review his own lyrics?
From: R.Mahendra Raj (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Fri Mar 14 05:32:51 EST 2003
When Kaviarasar was at the height of popularity he took things very easily. He was never serious in his life. In short he lived for the day giving little importance to yesterday and tomorrow. He was always seen in a jovial mood and it was at this time he decided to script and produce the film "Kavalai Illatha Manithan (1958)" with full optimism that a man can survive without worries. But he was proven wrong for the very film which he intended to promote to the masses had him drowned in worries instead for nearly a decade. He trusted a few accomplices and let them handle all things connected with finance for this film. They conned him and he had had to face legal implications. He commented later that ,to be born as a human being the karma is such, one has to undergo sufferings and worries to complete the cycle. Since he defied this will of God by going ahead with such a title for this film had landed him in hot soup for many years to come. He realised that it is totally impossible for a human being to live worry-free throughout his life. He thus cautioned everyone not to undermine God's will as he is a living example.
Incidentally "Kavalai Illatha Manithan" contains beautiful songs and in the opening our kaviarasar who was in the prime of his life can be seen giving advice to newly graduated university students. That piece of advice is still applicable in this millennium.
Chandrababu, the hero of this film, had had given a lot of problems and inconveniences to kaviarasar thus delaying the production on and off. At one stage kaviarasar almost abondoned the idea of going ahead with the film if not for some mediators. Notwithstanding this, when Chandrababu produced "Thattungal Thirakkapadum (1966)" it was Kannadhasan for the songs. As said earlier in this thread, kaviarasar was not known to harbour contempt of any kind for fellow human beings despite the latters' shortcomings.
The same also goes with Savithri. She too gave problems and did not fully give her cooperation to complete kaviarasar's film "Raktha Thilagam".
Gemini Ganesh, who was a close friend of kaviarasar and who fondly addresses kaviarasar as 'brother' had to interfere and admonish Savithri.
In the recent 80th year birthday celebrations of Gemini Ganesh he (Gemini) had credited kaviarasar amongst the 80 things he likes in life.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Sat Mar 15 20:59:23 EST 2003
When kaviarasar was invited to speak at a forum organised by the local Tamil literary circle somewhere around the mid seventies in the border town of Kroh (Malaysia/Thailand), Veeraman, a local poet accompanied him from Kuala Lumpur in a car.
Whilst in the vehicle Veeraman noticed that although kaviarasar was talking his mind was engaged at a higher level with both his eyes slightly drawn up as though communicating with the gods above. At this level of thought he poured out whatever came to his mind and his assistant (not Rama Kannappan) immediately was seen scribing the dictations of the former.
Veeraman concluded that kaviarasar must have been indeed communicating with higher intelligence as the flow of words which was gushing out were not ordinary ones but masterpieces. Although seen in a semi state of consciousness nevertheless he engaged in the lively conversation with Veeraman throughout the journey. It was something to be marvelled at as we human beings can only perform one work concerning the mind at any one time.It was no ordinary feat for kaviarasar.
They say that kavingyars' words are next to God's because of being adopted by the Godess of Education, Lakshmi. That reminds me of an incident narrated by MS Viswanathan.
When kaviarasar was producing 'Sivagangai Seemai' (1959) he was constrained by budget limitations. He had to produce the film with the barest expenditure and booked a studio to shoot the film. When the day arrived for shooting kaviarasar along with MSV, TK Ramamurthy and the artistes went to the studio to proceed with the shooting and other related work. On arrival they found that a different company was in the midst of shooting. Kaviarasar confronted the manager of the studio who cooly told him that this company paid a higher rate of rental which was why he allowed it to do their shooting work. Kaviarasar pleaded with the manager telling him of his predicament but to no avail. The manager, however, offered to refund the booking fees which was made earlier.
That was the last straw! Kaviarasar with tears welling up in his eyes cursed the manager saying that his studio will perish in fire for being money conscious. He refused to accept the refund and walked away choking with emotions just like a child.
Fair enough, at about 5.00 p.m. the same day MSV telephoned kaviarasar and told him that the studio was gutted down in a strange fire incident. MSV took this opportunity to extract a promise from kaviarasar that not to curse anybody or anyone under any circumstances in future. Such was the word power of our childlike kaviarasar!
As regards to "Yesu Kaaviyam" and some other bits on kaviarasar I will post it later of an article I had written for publication three years ago.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 18.104.22.168)
on: Sat Mar 15 22:05:30 EST 2003
Kaviarasar always advocated hard work for success. He despised illegal means or labour without sweat to gain riches. Although coming from the Chettiar community who are economically prosperous he was just the opposite - borrowing instead of lending!
To show his displeasure of those who acquire riches on the sufferings of others, especially money-lenders he let it go in a song. In the song he did not hesitate to hold in high esteem even the astrologer and doctor but not the money lender. Note the prefix 'avar' for the other professions and 'avan' for the money lender!in the song "Undaaki Vittavargal" (Muharasi 1966) a Devar films MGR-Gemini Ganesh (first and last starrer). MGR, a police officer in this film, disguises himself as a graveyard caretaker and mouths the sattirical song:-
Undaaki vittavargal rendu peyru
Ingu kondu vanthu pottavargal naalu peyru
kondaadam pothu oru nooru peyru
Uyir koodu vittu pona pinne kooda yaaru
Kalyanam seyvathurku naal solluvaar
Entha kaariyathai seyvatharkum theythi kurippar
Nalla seythi sollum joshiyarku
Theervu sollum naal varai
Theythi vaikka villayadiyo
Uyirai meethi vaikkuvillayadiyo
Theeratha noigalayum theerthu mudippar
Ivar theyraatha vaythiyathum sernthu padichaar
Nalla noi theerkum marunthu vanthu
Noi theerka maattha thendru
Pattanathil paathi ivan vaangi mudichaan
Antha pattayathil kandathu pol veyli eduthaan
Athil ettaduku maaligai vachi
Kattadathu katti vittu
Ettadikul Vanthu Paduthaan
Mannai kotti athil veyrai eduthaan
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 22.214.171.124)
on: Mon Mar 17 02:48:04 EST 2003
When I wrote about the background to 'Vasantha Maaligai (1972)' songs I forgot to include one pertinent point.
Kannadhasan was engaged in writing the songs in one of the rooms of the studio purportedly owned by Rama Naidu who was also the producer of 'Vasantha Maaligai'. As usual he was surrounded by personnel involved in this film including the director and Kannadasan's assistant etc. Rama Naidu happened to pass by this room when he noticed the crowd around Kannadhasan who was casually lying on the bed dictating the songs.
Naidu called for the director into his room and admonished him for treating the studio as a hotel room. At the same time he wanted to see the copies of the songs which Kannadasan had written for this film to determine further!
When Rama Naidu was shown the copies the following day he was very.very impressed with it so much so he ordered a new bed and fittings to replace the old one in the studio! He directed that Kannadhasan could come anytime and do his work in this room!
That reminds me of another incident. When I was staying in the Atlantic Hotel, Chennai some yhears ago, a senior hotel attendant whom I had had befriended took me to the suite where kaviarasar used to compose lyrics. According to the attendant, kaviarasar will request that the a/c be switched off and the ceiling fan to be activated. The other request will be to shut the bathroom door completely as he cannot stand the smell of antiseptic (fennoil). He will then take a pillow from the bed and place it on his lap to rest his forearms and sit cross-legged on the floor. The moment the story situation is told to him he will focus his eyes on the ceiling above like a yogi in deep meditation. Woila! the words come out perfecting the story's situations. All will be over in just a matter of two hours or so and then he will settle down to relax with his favourite drink with associates! This was a routine affair in Atlantic Hotel, it seems according to the hotel hand.
This again reminds me of another local incident.
Somewhere in the mid seventies, when kaviarasar used to frequent Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia he was staying as a guest of a veteran trade unionist in the latter's office which was furnished with hostel facilities. It was the season of Krishna Jayanthi and the government-owned radio station's Indian Services officials decided to interview kaviarasar on this topic since he was in town.
V. Poobalan (an ardent fan of kaviarasar and later retired as head of Indian Section, Radio Malaysia) and the late Bairoji Narayanan, a veteran boradcaster and a devout vaishanavite iyengar, were assigned to carryout this task. The latter was sceptical as to whether this cinematic poet who was known earlier for his aethistic beliefs could talk about Krishna Jayanthi. Reluctantly he accepted the task and went with Poobalan to see kaviarasar in his room.
Kaviarasar was lying on the bed when they entered and straight away without wasting time Bairoji Narayanan told him the raison de' etre of their visit. Without mincing words kaviarasar started to talk extensively on this topic even when the reel tape had ended! He was lying down throughout the interview!
On the way back Bairoji Narayanan regretted his prejudice against Kannadhasan. He told to Poobalan that being a vaishnavite iyengar himself he was nothing compared to the vast knowledge of kaviarasar on Krishna Jayanthi.
Bye the way, the late Bairoji Narayanan was an authority on Tamil cinema affairs in Radio Malaysia as well as the print media. He is none other than the elder brother of cine actor Malaysia Ravichandran (new generation actor Hamshavarthan's father). Incidentally, from the very first film (Kaathalikka Neramillai 1964) Ravichandran shot to popularity due to the numerous popular songs by Kannadhasan which he mouthed.
Well folks, so much for speaking on "sleeping on the job" topic!! I notice that suddenly there is a terrifying silence out there. What happened to you folks? Why no comments? At least that will keep me moving. Kannadhasan is vast like the ocean. One can keep writing and writing on him. So, until I hear from you all folks bye for now!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Tue Mar 18 05:09:15 EST 2003
Actress Devika was an intimate friend of Kaviarasar and she used to discuss her personal and private problems with him.
She used to fondly call him 'liar poet' over the way kaviarasar exaggerates especially those pertaining to women and love. This branding must have worked in his mind so much so he penned the song "Poyilae piranthu Poyillae valarnthu Pulavar Perumaane" (Ananda Jothi 1963). In that song MGR plays the role of a school drill master whilst also dabbling in poetry. The heroine (Devika) comes to know later as to the true identity of the poet thus the song.
In another philosphical song ("Kadavul Irukindraar Athu Un Kannuku Therigindraatha") in this film MGR was a bit apprehensive whether it would click because he was active in DMK which sans religion, God. etc. But he did like the lyrics and gave the signal to proceed with the picturisation. That songs still stands out as amongst the best in philosophy.
Incidentally this was the one and only film where both MGR and Devika paired not forgetting the young Kamalhassan.
When kaviarasar died Devika was in a state of depression for a long long time.
There are also two question & answer songs in this film i.e. "Pani illaatha Maargazhiyaa" and "Ninaika Therintha Maname".(Input to earlier query in this thread).
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 188.8.131.52)
on: Wed Mar 19 05:06:31 EST 2003
-Kupps & Sankar thanks to both of you.
An addendum to the earlier thread.
Before 'Ananda Jothi' the film 'Pana thottam' was released (1963). There are interesting similar anectodotes.
When Kaviarasar wrote the song "Enna thaan nadakkum Nadakattumae Iruttinil neethi marayattumae" MGR was not apprehensive but appreciative although it had some spiritual connotations. MGR cleverly uses his signature hand gesture to point to the sky and to the gopuram of a temple when the words "Oru thalaivan irrukiraan mayangathae" and "Pinnalae therivathai adichuvidu Munnaalai irupathu AVAN veedu" appear in this song scene. He was very active in DMK and there were some who hated his meteoric rise. To teach them a lesson he used this song by Kannadhasan and he was not afraid to face the consequences in the DMK for being spiritual.
Subsequently he sat with Kaviarasar to get the other songs namely "Oruvaar oruvaarai piranthom Iruvar iruvaarai inaninthom" where he insisted on a western choreography (his first) to boost the philosophy of this song; "Manathottam pothum endru maayavanaal kodutha udal Panathottam pottathenedi yen muthamaa" where kaviarasar lashes out at money conscious vultures and, of course, "Pesuvathu Kiliya Illai Pennarasi Mozhiyaa?" (Another q & a song, Kupps).
Actually, the latter was the first song composed by kaviarasar for this film and when MGR, being an expert in Tamil literature himself, saw the draft he was overwhelmed. Why? The first stanza "Pesuvathu kiliyaa illai pennarasi mozhiyaa" referred to the then leading lady in Tamil films, Saroja Devi. She hailed from Bangalore and spoke Tamil with a high pitch Karnataka accent (like a parrot?).
The second stanza "Paaduvathu kaviyaa illai parivallal maganaa" and "Cheranaku uravaa senthamzhilin nilavaa" were direct references to MGR. Kaviarasar cleverly put it on permanent records through this stanza of MGR who was noted for his literary ability as well his generosity. The words "cheranaku uravaa senthamizhilin nilavaa" denotes MGR as a Malayalee by birth but a Tamil at heart.
MGR was known to interfere in the lyrics and music direction of all the films he worked with. But Kannadhasan had the ability to read MGR's wave lengths so there was actually no necessity for the latter to interfere. But there was an exception to this rule.
Kaviarasar composed the duet song "Naan andru yaar varuvaar" for the film Mahadevi (1957)but MGR was not satisfied. He asked kaviarasar to come up with a different lyrics (kaviarasar also handled the screen play and scripting for this film) and on the spot the song "Kan moodum velayaliae kalai ennna kalayo" was composed. This song , of course, became a hit, thanks to MGR's insistence.
But MS Viswanathan liked the earlier song so much so that he asked kaviarasar's permission to include it in the latter's own film 'Maalayitta Mangai' (1958). That song too became a hit sung by TR Mahalingam.
Coming to the 'chicken & egg' matter it reminds me of another gem.
As we are all aware the world is made up of atoms which in turn contains sub-atoms, nucleuii, proton. Although not visible to the naked eye it is the atom which is the matter in the entire creation of the universe.
A reader once asked kaviarasar as to what amazes him most in life. Kaviarasar replied that it was the smallest of the smallest atom ,which can only be found under microsopic examination ,found in the spermatooza which in turn procreates all human beings. He concluded that to understand God one has to go back to basics and that even scientists can only study what is available to them but not the origins or roots.
Do you remember the song "Bhoojiyathukulle oru raajiyathai aandu kondu puriyaamalae irruppan oruvan avanai purinthu kondaal avanthaan Iraivan"?
(Valar Pirai 1962). The bhoojiyam (zero) in this context means the atoms. A simple scientific and spiritual explanation of the creation of the universe by the Lord penned by seer Kannadhasan. If you happen to hear the song again listen to the lyrics carefully. You will be equally amazed at the simple things which our kaviarasar observed scientifically. This is one song where no other poet can equalize.
I will try and address the other queries later, bye for now folks!
From: R.Mahendra Raj (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Wed Mar 19 05:20:41 EST 2003
Subbu, yes all the songs in 'Ananda Jothi' including "Ninaika therintha manamae" are by kaviarasar.
Sankar, as stated in my earlier threads kaviarasar was not known to be selective about the songs which he had had written. He seldom makes references to his songs. But he did say that he liked the song "Ponaal Pogattum Podaa" ('Paalum Pazhamum 1961) because of his belief that nothing is permanent in life. He also advised his fans to follow the contents of this song whenever they are in dire straits.
I had come across two or three LPs (long-playing records) containing the label "Kannadhasan's favourites". But I am sceptical because of the above reasons. Perhaps the record producers wanted to commercialise it by giving such a title.
From: R.Mahendra Raj (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Thu Mar 20 04:18:17 EST 2003
Thanks Mani. The thread is getting livelier with your inputs!
Re - 'Aboorva Raagangal' please refer my earlier thread. Just for the record, KB was impressed with the climax song ('Kelviyin naayaganae')and regarded Kannadhasan as a saviour to his predicament who came in the nick of time to put a finishing touch to this controversial story. Just to express his thanks and gratitude he included the scene where Kannadhasan acts out as himself and a patient of Nagesh, the doctor. This scene was shot when the filming of 'Aboorva Raagangal' had already ended. Actually there was no relevance of this scene (Kannadhasan/Nagesh) to the plot of 'Aboorva Raagangal'. Perhaps it was KB's imitable style of saying thanks to kaviarasar and making him even more popular through this visual.
Bye the way both Nagesh and Thangaveloo (comedians) were ardent fans as well as personal friends of kaviarasar. The latter can also be seen often glorifying Kannadhasan's name throughout the film 'Lalitha' (1977).
Re - the interview by Bairoji and Poobalan. I was told by the latter that both were mesmerized when Kannadhasan started to talk so much so that they did'nt realise that the tape had long stopped. Poobalan intimated to me that throughout the interview he (Poobalan) was admiring the grey matter inside Kannadhasan's head!
However, lets not go into technical details for it will put a damper to the aim of this thread. Lets'just grasp the essence and only the overview for the benefit of kaviarasar's fans.
As regards to "Nenjikku Nimmathi" are you sure this song was excluded from the film 'Naangu Killaadigal 1970'?
About the controversial song 'Ethirpaaramal nadanthathudi' ('Thani Piravi 1966). As was well known in the film circle Chinnappa Devar and MGR were actually old time buddies stretching to the days when MGR was struggling to make it into the industry whilst Devar was known as sandow for acting the same in minor roles. They were in the same neighbourhood and once when Devar came to visit MGR in his house he was shocked to find MGR, his brother Chakrabani and mother had not taken any meals because they had no means. Devar immediately went back to his house's kitchen and stealthily took three to four handful of uncooked rice and put them into his short khaki pants which he was fond of wearing at that time. To escape the vigilant eyes of his mother he took the back exit and headed towards MGR's house and emptied the rice onto a pot and asked MGR's mother to cook. Such was the friendship of Devar and MGR. Of course, for one period of time they had had bad blood between them when Devar went ahead to produce films without MGR. That is a different story altogether.
From "Thaai Solle Thattathe'(1961)the bond between MGR/Devar/Kannadhasan began to grow. Initially, Kannadhasan handled the script of this film but almost half way through he could'nt proceed due his many commitments in other films. He excused himself and told Devar that he will concentrate on the songs alone.
Prior to this Kannadhasan handled the scripts of MGR's masterpeices which were all period films mostly based on ancient kingdom stories. When MGR was booked to act in 'Thirudaathae (1958)' [produced by AL Sreenivasan, elder brother of Kannadhasan] he requested Kannadhasan to give his best in the scriptwriting as this movie , his first in a modern social theme, should set standards of some sorts. That film was a hit and and the next big social theme hit to follow was 'Thaai Sollae Thattathae' (1961) with MGR's insistence that Kannadhasan should do the scripting.
Devar, being a diehard Muruga devotee, as mentioned earlier in this thread, became obsessed with this idea of persuading MGR to act as Lord Murugan for a song scene in 'Thani Piravi' (1966). Of course, MGR when approached was apprehensive at first as his image in the eyes of DMK will be severely damaged if he acts in a puranic role. Being also shrewd that such a role may even garner support from temple-going men and women voters who also form a sizeable chunk of the Tamil Nad population MGR agreed to take the risk. He obliged Devar's insistence but with the condition that the role must be one without he having to do any movements as in other song situations. Kaviarasar penned the song "Ethir paaramal nadanthathudi" and it became the talk of the town as it was the first time people got to see MGR in such a role although during his formative years he had had acted in such minor roles in puranic films. The first stanza of the song itself conveys the song situation message indirectly!
Incidentally, in a duet song "Kannathil ennadi kaayam" in the same film kaviarasar made one indirect reference to MGR when the word 'chinnavar' ("....chinnavarai poe keylum kannadi mun nindru paarum") is mentioned. MGR was known as 'chinnavar' whilst his brother Chakrabani 'periavar' in the film circle.
By the way, MGR fondly addresses kaviarasar as "aandavare", a direct reference to his hit song "Oru koppayilae en kudiyiruppu" where he claims to be God ("naan padaipathinaal en peyr iraivan"). Kaviarasar addresses MGR 'saami'! What a name for a person who belonged to an almost aethist party! Could it be that Kannadhasan knew all along of MGR's spirituality hence the sarcastic nickname!?
So there was nothing wrong in penning the song "Ethirpaaramal nadanthathudi" was'nt it!?
Anyway, MGR looked cute without his trade mark moustache and overgrown for a teenaged Lord Murugan! This song scene was politicised, of course, by both his (MGR's) supporters and opponents alike during the election period at that time.
Mani, your turn to add on.
From: R.Mahendra Raj (@ 18.104.22.168)
on: Thu Mar 20 04:28:43 EST 2003
SK I agree with you that kaviarasar was very much attached to Modern Theatres. He had, time and again, referred to his prime of life days which were spent in Modern Theatres, Salem and yearned for those carefree days. In a recent issue of Kumudham weekly there was an article on Mordern Theatres Ltd. building in Salem. In that article it was mentioned that this was the place where kaviarasar started his career as a songwriter.
I also agree with you that he was compelled to compose lyrics for lifted tunes from popular Hindi/English songs. Although he hated to do this nevertheless he carried on for the love and sake of MTL.
If time permits I will narrate some incidents which took place in MTL involving kaviarasar.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 22.214.171.124)
on: Fri Mar 21 04:55:20 EST 2003
Hi folks! An addendum to the Kannadhasan/MGR/Devar combination.
Kaviarasar had had high regards for Devar for the latter came up in life with true grit and unwavering spirit. He quoted in one of his books that in order to be successful one should be hardworking as well as have strong faith in God. He went on to quote Chinnappa Devar as the living example and referred to a scene in the film 'Deivam'(1972)where Muthuraman who is penniless stumbles upon a cigarette packet with Rs 10 in it. With this money he works his way up to become an industrialist later all the while working hard and having strong faith in Lord Muruga. Kaviarasar revealed that this particular story scene was actually a re-enactment of Devar's personal experience when he was struggling to make it big. Kaviarasar also said that it was no surprise for Devar to have breathed his last on kantha sashti day - a day devoted to Lord Muruga - since he was a fanatic and ardent devotee of this Good Lord.[ I am not too sure of the auspicious day of Lord Muruga ]
Devar was known to give financial advances to both MGR and Kannadhasan throughout his career - the former for his political funds. When MGR was hospitalised after the shooting incident with MR Radha in January 1967, Devar brought a cloth bundle along with him to visit MGR. He handed over the bundle containing wads of currency notes saying that it was an advance for his next film which booking MGR should not decline.
MGR was overcome with emotion over Devar's gesture. Here he was lying on the hospital bed uncertain as to his future where some even wrote him off saying that it is the end of MGR's era. But Devar was brimming with confidence and optimism when he assured MGR, not with the usual words of comfort, but with hard cash!
But there is one interesting incident involving these three which I find it amusing and wish to share with all of you.
During the 100th day celebrations of Devar's 'Aattukkaara Alamelu' (1978) MGR who was the then Chief Minister and kaviarasar the aasthaana kavingyar were invited for the function.
This was the last function when the three were seen together and there are some film clippings and exclusive photographs of these three at this function. Devar died in 1978.
A few days before the function a common friend of both Devar and MGR went to the former's house on the morning of the above function. Devar was busy with his morning ablution and statutory prayers. When he came out of the prayer room he met this friend waiting for him and jokingly said that if he (the common friend) had gone to MGR's house at this time of the day he will see MGR in the prayer room. Devar further said if one his sharp enough he or she can spot the "vibuthi' on MGR's forehead which is normally in pink colour to camaflouge with his complexion! This friend found it hard to swallow Devar's comments.
This common friend accompanied MGR in the latter's car to the 100th day function of 'Aattukaara Alamelu'. Whilst in the car this friend just could'nt resist his temptation to stare at MGR's forehead to verify Devar's statement. MGR noticed this and asked him as to his sudden keeness on his forehead. The common friend told him exactly what Devar had had told him. This upset MGR who was usually careful with his image in public. At the function when he addressed he repeatedly and deliberately referred to Chinnappa Devar as PU Chinnappa (another cine artiste of yesteryears) out of spite to show his displeasure at Devar for exposing his private spiritual life!
Later, after the function kaviarasar had to be the go-between to settle this childish attitude of these two moghuls!
Bye folks, I will try and give some inputs on MTL in the next thread. Have a nice weekend!
From: R.Mahendra Raj (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Sat Mar 22 00:20:33 EST 2003
Hi folks! Last night I happened to catch up with the movie 'Thiyaagam' (1979) in the satellite channel and that prompted me to write something on Iliayaraja & Kannadhasan.
Ilayaraja had been a fan of kaviarasar even from his younger days. His favourite song of kaviarasar is 'maalai pozhutin mayakathille' (Bhagya Lakshmi 1961)and he had said this too often. The first time he met him was when he was playing an accompanying musical instrument with GK Venkatesh who was assisting MSV for the composition of the song 'thean sinduthae vaanam' ('Ponnukku Thanga Manasu 1974). As it was well known kaviarasar was close to MSV and to a lesser extent KVM. Although kaviarasar introduced the Shankar Ganesh pair into the music world (actually it was on recommendation of Panchu Arunasalam)he was still close to MSV. Ilayaraja just did'nt have the chance to fraternise with him even after shooting to fame through 'Annakili'.
It was after the song 'Maathavin Koyilile' (Achaani 1978) that kaviarasar noticed the genuis in Ilayaraja. The tune of this song moved him. Thereafter their relationship grew. Ilayaraja had once quoted that the song "nallavarkellam saatchigal rendu" ('Thiayagam 1979)was written for him as he felt that at that time there were some who were jealous of his sudden popularity and kaviarasar knew about this - hence this song. Ilayaraja remained close to him so much so that it was he who accompanied kaviarasar in his (Ilayaraja's) car to the Madras airport to see him off (the last)to the US.
Ilayaraja ,for all purposes and intent, when commenting on lyrics always gives credit to kaviarasar for his penmanship much to the chagrin of Vairamuthu. When Vairamuthu was sidelined and was down in the dumps during the early nineties, it seems, upon Ilayaraja's insistence the song "Kanmani Anbodu" ('Guna' 1991) was written having Vairamuthu in mind. The 'ponmani' happened to be Vairamuthu's wife who assisted the former in writing poems. Ilayaraja wanted the public to know that Vairamuthu gets assistance from his wife and at the same time sarcastically inquires the then position of Vairamuthu. The song goes to show that even a character who is a manic depressive patient (Kamal's character in this film) can come out with beautiful poetic lines better than professional poets!
It so happened that when AR Rahman became the tops and when Vairamuthu combined with him he took the opportunity to respond to Ilayaraja through the song "mettu podu" ('Duet' 1992). In this song he says that there is no hindrance to his thoughts and flows and challenges Ilayaraja to compose like ARR. Listening to both these songs one can draw some inferences but how far both the situations are true can only be attested through the horses' mouths i.e. Ilayaraja and Vairamuthu!
In a tribute to kaviarasar Vairamuthu said that the first time he had met him as a film song writer was when working for the film "Tik Tik Tik' (1980). He recalled that the moment kaviarasar stepped into the room he commanded that the burning incense sticks which were lighted at that time be extinguished for he has become allergic to everything except jasmine and women! He was not in good health at that time but his mind was as steady as ever. Vairamuthu was astonished with kaviarasar's instant wit and humour.
Vairamuthu was also awed when kaviarasar penned the song "azghagae, azhagae deyvathai" (Raja Paarvai 1980). I could'nt remember whether it was Kamal or Vairamuthu who commented that it was the first time such a song was written for a blind man character describing the beauty of a woman through the mind's eyes! (The latest movie 'Kaasi'(2002) also none).
Sorry for the deviation but as you know when you write on something it inevitably leads on to other things sundry! I will give some inputs on Modern Theatres in a short while.
Bye for now, folks!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 188.8.131.52)
on: Sat Mar 22 10:12:27 EST 2003
Hi! folks, ever noticed philosophical songs in Modern Theatre films were rare, save for the occasional songs like "Ithu neerodum" (Justice Viswanathan 1971), "Anubavi Joraa Anubavi" (Iru Vallavargal 1966) etc?. Could it be that MTL wanted to produce entertainment movies only without the usual formula of having philosophical songs? Folks your comments are invited for I may be wrong.
Coming to MTL - Kaviarasar started his film career here on a monthly payroll for editing its film journal. ST Sundram, the proprietor, was known to be a disciplinarian at all levels. Every thing was systematically done and he did not condone any form of indiscipline. He ensured that male and female artistes were billeted seperately and at a distance of course.
Mukhta V. Seenivasan was the manager of MTL in charge of administration which includes the overseeing of meals supply and laundry needs of those on its payroll.
There arrived one young female artiste to join MTL and, boys being boys, could'nt resist making friends with her including our kaviarasar. This female artiste did not succumb to the armourous advances of the males. When Sundram came to know about this he decided that it was best she is accomodated in a hotel far away from the studio. That dampened the efforts of all those romeos but not kaviarasar.
He somehow managed to locate the hotel and began to strike a relationship with this artiste. It was more than he bargained for as her response was more than kaviarasar had bargained for. She succumbed to this debonair! Upon his return he bragged to everyone about his achievement like a college student telling everything in detail! The others were surprised since kaviarasar was not that dashing as the others who were better manicured then him! He managed to hoodwink Sundram which was a record of sorts at that time.
Kaviarasar used to feel depressed and out of place whenever he was ridiculed by senior lyricists at MTL. They used to pass snide remarks on his ability in his presence. He carried on patiently and within a short span of time he overshadowed them all. Patience and perserverance paid off and he used to cite this as an example to budding artistes.
This is one gem which I find that even MGR who was known for his generosity could not equal kaviarasar's act.
A distant relative who was a near pauper used to visit kaviarasar occasionally at MTL and each time the latter would give him some cash for his expenses. One morning Mukhtha Seenivasan saw this man entering kaviarasar's room. Later in the afternoon Mukhtha knocked on the door to remind kaviarasar about his lunch only to hear kaviarasar's voice saying that he is not hungry. Later in the evening again he knocked to remind about the tea time and when he got the same reply he was curious. He was worried that kaviarasar may be ill or sosmething like that because he had never stayed in like this before. He requested kaviarasar to open the door and upon entering saw kaviarasar with only a towel wrapped around his waist. Kaviarasar asked him whether the laundry had arrived to which Muktha replied that he will go and find out.
Upon Muktha's insistence kaviarasar told him the truth. This distant relative had come that morning to borrow a laundered veshti as he had to go to some important place. Seeing that all his attire were with the laundry kaviarasar undid the veshti he was wearing which he had tied only that morning and handed over to the relative. He remained near naked just to help someone in need without any publicity of his magnamity. I have heard of such acts only through symbolic stories but this gesture by kaviarasar made me equate him with a saint. Can generosity be more meaningful than this gesture?
More later folks, bye!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Sat Mar 22 10:27:02 EST 2003
Saravanan, thanks for the add ons. Such response will boost me further.
Btw, talking about "Ponnuku Thanga Manasu" here is a trivial.
The song "Raman Ethanai Ramanadi" ('Lakshmi Kalyanam' 1969 [ kaviarasar's own film ] spurned the film title 'Raman Ethanai Ramandi' (1970) and the song "Ammadi Ponnukku Thanga Manasu" from this film spurned the same titled movie. And from 'Ponnuku Thanga Manasu'(1974) the song 'Thean Sinduthae Vaanam' had the same title film ('Thean Sinduthae Vaanam 1975) and finally from this film the song "Unnidam Mayangugireyn". Aha, what a link! All the songs are by kaviarasar except the last ("unnidam mayangugureyn') which is by Vaali. After this I lost track of the link. Can anyone care to add on?
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Sun Mar 23 10:49:13 EST 2003
Mythila, you made my day!
Vijay, after seeing your post only did I realise the meaning of 'theane' and 'maanae' in this context! As you too have reaffirmed, it could have been posible after all!
More on kaviarasar's generosity.
According to sources each morning as early as 6.00 a.m. there would definitely be people from all walks of life awaiting kaviarasar's appearance in his residence. Amongst them film producers awaiting to book him for their next ventures; continuity of song writing schedules;creditors waiting to collect their dues; and people who want some sort of favours and recommendations etc. For the latter group of people kaviarasar never failed to oblige even if he did'nt know them. His argument - "They have come from far and alike with the confidence that I could help them so why disappoint them? After all it only costs me only a single letter-head to write a word or two to those concerned to help these souls".
(Even though there was tension outside his residence kaviarasar takes his own sweet time and contemplates from his bedroom window watching the early morning sparrows. It was during such situations he wrote the song "Aalayamaniyin osaayai naan keytaen" ('Paalum Pazhamum' 1961)whilst observing the sparrows.)
A retired member of the judiciary down here who was a personal friend of kaviarasar told me that he had had the opportunity to stay with kaviarasar in Chennai and follow him to the studios, Hotel Kavitha etc. Whenever the former makes a trip to Chennai he will bring along with him some duty-free liquor bottles for kaviarasar. But the generous kaviarasar usually distributes all those firewater to his cinema associates and he will settle for sosmething local!
Twice or thrice he had seen kaviarasar giving some cash to a distant relative who never fails to drop by each time he is in Chennai. When this judicial member suspected that this man was taking advantage of kaviarasar's generosity asked the latter as to who he was and why was he giving him money regularly. Kaviarasar explained that he happens to be the husband of his sister who had since demised. His argument - although his sister is no more but can the bond of brother-in-law relationship be severed?
Once after visiting a temple this judicial member was distributing small changes as alms to the beggars. When kaviarasar saw him he told him that by this act it will be virtually impossible to satiate the hunger of these beggars who have to wait till their pans collect the required money for their meals. Instead he asked him to follow his practise - that is, give on or two beggars the cost of two meals for the day. By this act both the giver and receiver will be satisfied as it will be impossible to be charitable to all and sundry by giving small changes.
During his political active days he had incurred the wrath of some influential figure for being overly critical of him. During one assembly this figure hired a thug to set upon him. Luckily kaviarasar escaped with some minor brush offs with the help from his friends but with his shirt being slightly torn. Sometimes later, this same thug appeared before kaviarasar and sought his assistance for some money. He appeared to be down in the dumps with a prominent unshaven beard. At first kaviarasar could'nt recognise him and this man reminded him about the incident whilst shedding tears. Seeing this reformed thug with a tattered shirt kaviarasar immediately put his hand into his shirt pocket and gave him all he had and told him to buy a new shirt and the rest for his expenses. The reformed thug prostrated before him asking for forgiveness saying that he had committed an offence against a saint! Imagine the offender getting reimbursed for the shirt instead of the other way around!
Whenever kaviarasar travels outstations during daytime he had this habit of stopping at wayside stalls and buying tea and refreshment for the destitutes he comes across. He was also fond of buying 'moru' by the pots wholesale and for more than double its actual price and distributing them to people along the way. According to his associates none of the people knew the true identity of this donor and he preferred that way. His argumet - the moru seller might make about Rs 5 by selling the whole can which he has to wait till evening but by buying it for Rs 10 one not only makes him happy but the satisfaction derived from this act is divine. His further argument was that the Rs 10 is nothing compared to his extravagant spending and at least he is playing his part to make the poor happy!
Once he stopped by a tea stall when driving to refresh himself. The stall was set up next to a school and around this time the recess bell rang and out came the young pupils. Among them, one sharp-eyed pupil recognised him and asked him whether he was 'Paatu Kannadhasan'. Kaviarasar could'nt control his smile and thought for a while that this prefix is something new as he was known as 'kaviyngar'only. He asked the boy as to the origin of the prefix 'Paatu' to which the former replied that it used to be announced in the radio after each time his song was broadcast! Still in a jovial mood after getting this new title he then bought tea and savouries for all the pupils who had by then became curious and gathered around kaviarasar and advised them to study hard.
More later, folks.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 18.104.22.168)
on: Mon Mar 24 05:31:14 EST 2003
Thanks a lot Ram for your compliments. I had been toying with this idea too and with God's grace and our kaviarasar's spirit I hope to have this realised soon. But the info I have on kaviarasar is only 'a tip of the iceberg' so to speak figuratively. There are still many out there who hold valuable info and maybe they can be invited to partake so that it could benefit the millions of Tamils globally. Does'nt his lines "naan nirantharamaanavan azhivathillai entha nilayilum enakku maranamillai" ('Oru Koppyaliae En Kudiiruppu') ring a bell? After so many decades of writing this song and at this stage of all things digital and electronic kaviarasar still lives perpetually in the hearts and minds of both the older and younger generations alike throughout the world.
More on kaviarasar's generosity.
When of his assistants was arrested by police for suspected smuggling of liquor kaviarasar desperately contacted all his friends for cash to bail him out but to no avail. When everything else fails in such desperate situations he will quietly withdraw to his bed contemplating as to the next course of action. During such times he had the habit of fumbling with his gold neck chain while staring blankly at the ceiling above. This time the very gold chain he used to fumble came in 'handy'. He asked one of his assistants to pawn it for Rs 500 (the cost of the bail) and post the bail. His argument - the chain is nothing compared to the needs of a friend in dire straits. The actual cost of the chain was more than 10 times the price of the bail. The hocked item was never redeemed at all later! Typical of him!
Kaviarasar was once invited to preside over a poetry reading session in a college. Prior to going to the rostrum one of the novice student poets struck an instant friendship with kaviarasar at the back of the stage. Kaviarasar asked the student for his pre-written poem and after making a cursory glance over it put it in his own shirt pocket. Subsequently he wrote out one and asked the student to recite it on stage. The student was more than happy and he agreed to the request.
When this student's time came up for rendition, of course, he read out what kaviarasar had written for him thinking that it will win him a prize. But the applause he received was barely audible and he was truly disappointed. When kaviarasar took the mike he read out the student's poem passing it off as his own. The applause this time took some time to die off!
In his concluding speech kaviarasar exposed the truth to the audience. He drove home the point that this world is full of illusions where it only reckons face value leaving all the unsung heroes behind. He made his point with jest. Does'nt this incident strike a semblance to Tharumi of 'Thiruvilayaadal'?!
Another poetry incident.
Kaviarasar was a lover of dogs and he had one as a pet named Caesar. One day some undesirable elements hacked Caesar to death and dumped it outside his compound. Kaviarasar broke down upon seeing the lifeless body of his pet and was truly depressed for three days continously without having any appetite for meals even.
Earlier he had committed to write a poem for a literary function and the organisers came to his house to remind him of this. With Caesar's death still fresh in his mind he jotted the poem "En Arumai Caesar" (My Beloved Caesar). At the function the organisers and the audience received this poem very well - all the while thinking that kaviarasar wrote about Julius Caesar! Both Caesar and Julius Caesar were victims of brutal deaths and kaviarasar intelligently (although depressed) wrote it in such a way that it will be virtually difficult to know the actual background. Such was his love for dogs and especially Caesar. So he has written for animals too!
That also reminds me of a reader asking kaviarasar how the term "ungrateful dogs" came about in the Tamil language since dogs are known to be faithful to their masters.
Kaviarasar replied him that the apparent characteristcs of a dog is its gratitude and if it fails to show this then it should be rightly called 'ungrateful dog' hence this term.
In the same breath and in jest kaviarasar also said that Tamilians can be equated with dogs for no dog will allow another into its territory. Tamils are not only territory conscious but also will chase out any intruders who come to share their prosperity!
Kaviarasar was known to convert even the most serious subject into humour with his wit.
More later folks!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 22.214.171.124)
on: Mon Mar 24 09:53:00 EST 2003
In the early part of 1981 (the year kaviarasar died) MS Visvanathan was down in Malaysia and was scheduled to appear for a live tv interview with anchorman V. Poobalan, another die-hard fan of kaviarasar. Towards the end of the interview Poobalan purposefully asked MSV as to why of late Kannadhasan was writing trash songs. This question irritated MSV and he was quick enough to shoot the answer straightaway. He said that it was not Kannadhasan's fault but it was the producers who insisted on such trash. He further reminded that music directors like him may have faced the drought sometimes but not Kannadhasan as his mind is a perpetual fountain, always flowing with fresh lyrics. Poobalan and the Malaysian Kannadhasan fans were only too happy with this reaffirmative statement from MSV. But one must see MSV's emotion at that time to see how he reacted to Poobalan's question which was intentionally aimed to get something out of MSV!
There was another incident involving the late TR Mahalingam, an actor who shone bright during his hey days but slided to almost a noneity. It was kaviarasar who booked him to be the hero for his film 'Maalayitta Mangai'(1958)where he shot to fame again. Thats a different chapter altogether.
The year was 1978 when TR Mahalingam visited Malaysia for a concert. He was booked for a tv interview with anchor V. Poobalan. His health was deterioting and he had to be helped into the studio. During the interview Poobalan took the opportunity, like always, to ask about Kannadhasan and TRM gave him due credit for his second lease of life. The interview was, according to the studio personnel and Poobalan himself, dull and monotonous due to TRM's health.
Just before the time was up for the interview Poobalan asked him to sing a Kannadhasan's song for the benefit of viwers who were anxious to hear him sing. TRM obliged and started to sing the song (you guessed it right!) "Senthamizh theyn mozhiyaal". After singing the pallavi the high pitch of the song began to gain momentum in the following stanzas and he went about singing with his eyes closed. The tv crew was astonished that this frail looking man whose voice was hardly audible during the interview could sing in such a high-pitched voice. The crew head gave silent orders for the standby cameras to roll on and capture the mood of the song from all angles of this 'live performance'. The whole crew stood mesmerised till the song ended. Mind you, other than Poobalan the rest of the crew were from other races who cannot understand Tamil.
Later TRM confided to Poobalan after the live interview that it was Kannadhasan's image that kept him going throughout the song!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 126.96.36.199)
on: Wed Mar 26 05:24:54 EST 2003
During the mid sixties there were some literary figures who were jealous of kaviarasar and were bent on being overly critical of his works. At one stage he even pleaded with them in the media that should they wish to do post-mortem on his works then they can do so after his death because his heart is soft and cannot bear to being criticised. Like a child's heart!
Nothwithstanding his appeal he took the opportunity to lash out at his critics through a song scene situation in the film 'Enga Paapa'(1966). The situation called for the hero,(Ravichandran) a part-time poet and a graduate, to be physical with his opponents for criticising his poem and at the same time singing an apt song. BR Banthulu called upon kaviarasar to pen this light situation song. This song is unique in the sense that it is a light fight-cum-song scene with the usual dishum-dishum sound even in the song proper. MS Viswanathan did a beautiful job to make this song an unique one.
As usual it gave our kaviarasar an outlet to vent out his emotions against his opponents but with a difference - he had used all types of South Indian physical self-defences vis-a-vis his own literary defence!
The song is reproduced below for the benefit of readers:-
Naan pottaal theriyum podu
Thamizh paattaal adippeyn odu
Intha kavithaiya kurai sollumvore
Intha kaliyaal adippeyn vaada
Nee Kambannai padithavanaada
Illai kaagitham thinnum mooda mooda
Ammannum munnae aayiram paattai
Alli alli veesattumaa
Appothum unakkum puriyaathirunthaal
Solli solli uthaikattumaa
Nalla idayanum ennum kambai eduthu
Venbaa Arisi ennum vitha vithamaagya saattaithoduthu
Pattanathu Thamizhilil nainaa endraal
Artham enna koorattumaa
Bayilvaan mozhiyil vashthaad endraal
Valam enna kaatattatumaa
Un edathilum valathilum kodukkatumaa
Elusi Arisi endru vari variayaaga varaiyuttumaa
That is one song which is my favourite for its uniqueness as well as the song situation.
Of course he had had penned some songs especially to console himself but there were some similar to the above. Amongst them 'My name is Billa' (Billa 1980), 'Naan Pollathavan'(Pollathavan 1981) etc. were written by him and for him.
See you later folks!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 188.8.131.52)
on: Thu Mar 27 10:07:45 EST 2003
Thanks a lot lav and Dobri for your candid comments. Such comments do inspire me to write further. The truth is I did post something but, unfortunately ,the national network system in Malaysia was down. Hence I am doing it all over again with the hope I can come up with exactly what I'd written earlier.
Before I proceed, I just remembered that the song "Oru Raja Raniyidam" ('Sivantha Mann' 1969) was kaviarasar's favourite song and he had asked MSV to come up with different tunes from different angles to make this song a hit.
The late AP Nagarajan( an icon of mythological films with good literary tastes) and kaviarasar were engaged in verbal war of words in the media and at public functions because they belonged to different political parties who had their own brand of differing ideologies. They were often seen to condemn each other's literary productions. One fine day AP Nagarajan decided to call it quits after realising that no one benefitted from this enemity except for opportunists in the political arena.
They both patched up and decided to bury the hatchet and commonly contribute to the well-being of the Tamil language through the film media. Their first such 'joint venture' was 'Navaraathiri' (1964). Prior to this both had had worked together in negligible films like 'Vadivukku Valai Kaappu' (1962).
Navaraathiri was a roaring success. In the song 'Iravanil aatam Pagalil thookam Ithuthaan engal ulagam' one can feel the carefree days of kaviarasar. In that song he had deliberately used the word 'kavingyar' just to reflect his own self! Even APN appreciated it since it also reflected him to a lesser extent.
With the success of 'Navaraathiri' they went on to produce gems in a straight row through timeless puranic stories - 'Thiru Vilaayadal'(1965), 'Saraswathi Sabatham'(1966)and 'Thiruvarutchelvar' (1967).Puranic films saw a re-entry into the Tamil film arena with both these stalwarts' joint contributions.
In 'Thiru Vilaayadal' one cannot, but admire, kaviarasar's prowesness for penning three different situational songs in a row for one single theme.
'Oru Naal Pothumaa' was for the arrogant court singer(this song shot Dr. Balamurali Krishna to fame although his earlier debut in the duet song "Thanga ratham vanthathu veethiyilae" ( 'Kalai Koil'(1964) also by kaviarasar) did not make an impact.
The next song "Isai Thamizh nee seytha arutsaathanai" was for the role of the local competitor (this song again gave a third lease of life to TR Mahalingam)and lastly "Paatum Nanae Bhaavamum Naanae" by Lord Siva himself to mitigate the arrogant singer's attitude.
To my knowledge, no other poet could have written these three songs from three different perspectives on the same theme in a single playwright scene. Whats more, no other poet has todate written a song purportedly sung by the Good Lord to human beings (I stand corrected). I suppose the Good Lord must have entered into the soul of our kaviarasar when he penned the latter song. After all he had claimed he was God, did'nt he? ("Naan Padaipathinaal En Peyr Iraivan")!!
In 'Saraswathi Sabatham' the song "Agaramuthala Ezhuthellam Ariyavaithai Devi' was the transformation of his own experience which he wrote in all earnestness to thank Goddess Saraswathi for granting him the boon to be a famous poet.
For the song "Mannavan Vanthaanadi" ('Thiruvarutchelvar') please refer the opening comments in this thread by Sankar who made a remarkable analysis.
Of course, there were latter puranic films which involved the duo but it did'nt work out well as people's interests in such themes were waning around this time. But kaviarasar maintained his stance through films like 'Kandhan Karunai' (1967) etc.
KV Mahadevan did a good and independent job on all these films. For most of the mythological films KVM was the favourite amongst the producers. MSV and TKR , however, did a good job for 'Karnan' (1964).
It was kaviarasar who started calling KVM 'maama'in jest after the popularity of the song "maama, maama, maama" ('Kumudham' 1961 - MD KVM)although it was written by a different poet. The prefix 'maama' stuck to him until his death recently.
When the team sat down to pen the situational song for the arrogant singer in 'Thiruvilayaadal' kaviarasar had had a mental block. KVM jokingly asked kaviarasar whether one day was sufficient for him to come up with the stanzas. Thats it! the pallavi was born ("Oru naal pothumaa")that instant itself and he completed the song.
TK Ramamurthy, the MD for "Naan"narrated another similar situation. The crew was seated in a cramped cubicle type room to work on a duet song for this film. When kaviarasar entered the room he sarcastically asked them whether the room was enough to accomodate him also! He used the very words for the song "Pothumo intha idam" as the pallavi.
Incidentally, TV Ramana came up with the idea of shooting this scene inside a closed car during a rainy night. The song was something new to the audience and was well received although there were some who criticised it as having subtle sexual innotations.
The success of this song situation was carried to Ramana's follow up movie 'Moodraezhuthu' (1968) with the same team including hero (Ravichandran) and heroine (Jayalalitha)doing dance movements within an enclosed box for kaviarasar's song "Pettiyilae potadaittha pettai kozhi". As usual the critics were quick enough to point out the vulgarity of the song's lyrics and the song situation.
More later folks and keep the comments rolling!
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 184.108.40.206)
on: Fri Mar 28 06:02:31 EST 2003
Thanks for the comments and observations folks.
Mani, re-the open remark by kaviarasar as to his position then. No one can deny the fact that the vagaries of life our kaviarasar went through was with a deliberate purpose by the divine. He had on one occasion remarked that the best part of his life was wasted due to his involvement in politics which in turn saw him facing all sorts of hardship. He regretted for not giving his fullest attention to the literary field which would have otherwise benefitted all and sundry.
But then again, as mentioned earlier, it was the divine's plan to have our kaviarasar burn his fingers in politics so that the best would come out from him.(Literally, he came out with the song "Satti suttathaada Kai Vittathadaa" ('Aalayamani 1963') after having learnt a bitter lesson in politics! I presume he had to go through the various stages so that he could produce songs with life in them. And that songs also had some relevance to you and me in line with his decree that "at any one time or other the mortals living on this earth will find my songs relevant to the situation they are facing".
Remember the lines "Engey vaazhkai thodangum Athu engey evvitham mudiyum - Ithuthaan paathai ithuthaan payanam endru yaarukum theriyaathu" ('Ninaipathellam nadanthuvittal' ['Nenjil Or Aalayam' 1962] )?
Born in Chirukudalpatti and demised in Chicago thousands of miles away from his birthplace!(note the Tamil syallable 'chi' in Chirukudalpatti and Chicago). Was the song unwittingly meant for him?
More later folks and awaiting your comments.
From: R. Mahendra Raj (@ 220.127.116.11)
on: Sat Mar 29 00:07:12 EST 2003
Ram,thanks for the suggestion. I will start thinking about it.
Mani, thanks for your inputs. As regards the poltically related songs please refer to my earlier inputs in this thread.
Re - the song "Yaarai engey vaippathu endru yaarukum theriyilie" ('Bale Paandiya'1962) you were right about the situation. During the election period, from the positive feedback kaviarasar received was that EVK Sambath will definitely triumph. Alas, the results showed otherwise. As usual and typical of his easy going nature he converted this defeat with the above song. His immediate media response to EVK Sambath's defeat was "maaparum tholviyil vetri petraar"! A wordsmith indeed!
As regards Emily, his old and first flame whom he met for the first time when travelling in a tram car in Culcutta - yes, the song "Ennai yaar endru enni enni nee paarkiraai" ('Paalum Pazhamum'1961) was indeed written for her.
He had a soft spot for her despite having lost all communication with her. When he produced 'Sumai Thaangi'(1963)he wrote the pathos song "En annai seytha paavam naan mannil vanthathu" for the heroine, Devika but having Emily still in mind. Emily had a pathetic background. To a certain extent Devika resembled Emily which answers the question as to why kaviarasar was very close with her (Devika).
Two years later, when his brother ALS produced the film 'Pazhani' he insisted on the name Emily for Pushpalatha's character who is a Christian in this film. Incidentally, it was kaviarasar who introduced Pushpalatha into the Tamil film cinema.
About his love affair with the older girl. When kaviarasar was down here in Kuala Lumpur in 1970 he was scheduled to speak at a function in MARA auditorium. It so happened that he spotted this old flame, who had by now was married to a Malaysian, seated in the front second row of the auditorium. During his speech he casually remininsced the relationship without mentioning her name. Fearing the worst the old flame bolted from the auditorium lest kaviarasar points at her!
"Kaalangilil aval vasantham" was written for his wife which kaviarasar himself declared. He wrote this as a bonus after relishing his favourite dishes cooked by her!
Re - Yesu Kaaviyam. When the missionary fraternity of Madras proposed the project to kaviarasar he was a bit apprehensive at first. The reason being that he was used to write all things Hinduism especially Lord Krishna. But in a flash he reminded himself that God is one but it was only human beings who created religions. He had attested this universal fact in his many songs. He pacified himself that both Lord Krishna and Jesus were born in the barn so there is something similar to the divine plan.( the exact words said by kaviarasar : "Krishnarum mmattu kottayil piranthaar Yesu Kristhavarum maatu kottayil thaan piranthaar" - note the rhyming of both the Lords). He then accepted the project and completed it well before the deadline. During this period (early 1981 - the year he died) he was sober and was also not in good health. The rest is history.
The Chrisitian missionary received the news from its headquarters in Chicago, US that kaviarasar's 'Yesu Kaaviyam' had been accorded a place with honour in the World Christian Library, Chicago. They sought his permission to have his works deposited in the world library.
Unfortunately kaviarasar was lying in a semi-coma state in the Chicago hospital at that time. The missionary team then flew to Chicago and broke the news and at the same time sought his permission. Kaviarasar was brimming with tears of joy to know that his works on the noble bible had been given world recognition and he gave the go-ahead through a smile and hand gesture.
Whats so great about the 'Yesu Kaaviyam' one may ask. Till todate no one had written the bible in a poetry form in any language of the world which fact caught the attention of the higher-ups in the Christian World headquarters. Kaviarasar had created a world record of sorts.
After completing the 'Yesu Kaaviyam' he toyed with the idea of working on the Al Quran. He wanted to be seen as a fair-minded poet encompasssing all religions, in short, to practise what he had preached through his songs. But his Muslim friends advised him against it. The reason being that any translation, interpretation or poetic expressions of the Al Quran by a non-Muslim will not go down well with the Muslims. Kaviarasar agreed to the sensitiveness expressed his Muslim friends.
More later folks and have a nice week-end!