Movies help music reach the masses. Carnatic music or any other classical form of art has been elite and will always been elite and it is unrealistic to expect them to parallel pop music. Just like in an organization, there will be 1000s of workers, 100s of mid-managers and few senior executives and 1 CEO, art form also has maintained this pyramid of intellect, if you will. There will never be 100s of senior executives. Likewise, there will always be an elite group of connoisseurs of art, who will cherish it, help preserve it and continue the legacy.
I actually intended writing about something else. Movies help music reach the masses, alright. But movies has also help music deliver literature to the masses.
We all have read Thiruvasagam and Thirukkural and Naalayira Divya Prabandham in our Tamil poetry classes (assuming your 2nd language is Tamil). But how many times have we taken real interest in it? Or rather how many of you have actually taken to it? If you were good at it, it is because we wanted to grade well.
But the moment we hear a movie song include a Devaram (Kunitha Puruvamum — Dhalapathi), a Divyaprabandham (Vaaranamaayiram — Keladi Kanmani) we tend to memorize the poem almost instantaneously. Such is the power of movies. Forget songs, we remember almost instantly anything that was associated with movies. Think of Thirukural (Agara Mudhala Ezhuthellaam — KB’s banner) or the hymn “Guru Brahma Guru Vishnu” (Movie: Vedham Pudhidhu) or the hymn “Sarva Mangala Maangalye” (Movie: Azhagi) or the hymn “Maathru Devo Bhava” (Movie: Salangai Oli) or the hymn “Sahana Bavathu” (Movie: Vedham Pudhidhu) or the most famous — “Maangalyam Thandhunaanenaa” from the movie Alai Payuthey.
I am probably going to make a list of some adaptions unless somebody already has a list we can build upon.
Which brings me to something that has been haunting me for the past 2 days. This is the Naalaayira Divyaprabandham “Vaaranamaayiram”. Goes like this:
வாரணமாயிரம் சூழ வலம் செய்து
நாரணன் நம்பி நடக்கின்றான் என்னெதிர்
பூரண பொற்குடம் வைத்து புறமெங்கும்
தோரணம் நாட்ட கனா கண்டேன்
Maestro adapted this in two of his movie songs. Keladi Kanmani is one. Pleasant to listen to, but not powerful. The other one is Hey Ram. Actually a combination of vAraNamAyiram and Vaishnava Janato. Vaishnava Janato is a Bhajan written by Narsinh Mehta in the 15th century, that talks about the qualities of a Vaishnava. This part is sung by a shrill female solo voice — perhaps S Janaki, but I cannot be sure.
वैष्णव जन तो तेने किहये, जे पीड परायी जाणे रे
पर दुख्खे उपकार करे तोये, मन अिभमान ना आणे रे
सकळ लोक मान सहुने वंदे, िनंदा न करे केनी रे
वाच काछ मन िनश्चळ राखे, धन धन जननी तेनी रे
The vAraNamAyiram part is a male chorus, something I just love, for unexplainable reasons.
Which also brings us to — what will we all do after the legend called Raja is dead?