Update: It was not until later that I realized publishing of this post coincides with the World Classical Tamil Conference in Coimbatore, India starting 6/23 going on for 5 days. Follow updates on this event on Twitter with hashtag #wctc
I don’t think I can say anything about the poeta magnifico — the Mahakavi — that has not already been said.
Bharathi is an image, a representation, a personification of many qualities that takes a lot of courage, devotion, passion to possess.
He combined dissimilar emotions and dissimilar topics into his works — something unheard of before.
Bharathi was not an agnostic — he very much believed in god (esp the Goddess Kali), but he challenged the qualities that made people blind to everyday sufferings of human beings, ridiculed the traits that sort of waived people from having to worry about real problems. Especially given the orthodox family that tasked themselves to nothing but praising god, he found it very conflicting with his ideals on society, country, and egalitarianism and so on.
The movie Bharathi is but a humble reconstruction of the creation of a superman called Bharathi, his life, his ideals, his sufferings and ultimately his uneventful death.
There are few things from the movie that bring goosebumps to me everytime I watch (or listen to) it (inspite of watching it a gazillion times now)
Ironically, my favorite song from this movie is not written by him. Edhilum Ingu Iruppaan Avan Yaaro. This song subtly says to the people of the world that god is within, god is everywhere, god creates/ destroys/ controls everything. He doesn’t reject god, only he rejects people who choose to be mean in the name of god. He doesn’t praise god, but he deems praising unnecessary. He acknowledges god, but screams at people it is only more important to be respectful of fellow human beings and all the creations. He makes sure he tells people nothing can possibly come in between him and his god. He just lives the phrase Aham Brahmasmi. He sheds his Brahmin identity to tell the world he doesn’t need them to be connected to god.
The song itself is written by Pulamaipithan, sung by Madhu Balakrishnan, composed by Ilayaraja, composed in Raga Rasikaranjani. Here is the song:
Ethilum ingu iruppAn avan yArO
EnakkuL avan iruppAn arivArO
Thavazhum nadhiyai tharitha mudiyAn
Adiyum mudiyum aRiya mudiyAn
ELiya adiyar Odhum vEdha nAdhamAgi
Varippuli athazh tharithavan ezhil kaNdEn
PiRappenum piNi aRuppavan thuNai KoNden
Tamizhkkavi tharum enakkoru varam
Tarath thiruvuLam veNdum
Sagathirukkenai tarath thagum neRi
Vaguthida thuNai veNdum.
Aalam karu neelam ena theriyum oru kaNtan
ANdum thiruth thoNdan enum adiyAk koru thoNdan
Pattruth thaLaikku neruppavan
Ottraik kaNathil azhippavan
Nettrip piRaikkuL neruppai vaLarthu
Thodakkamum adhan adakkamum avan vElai
Nadappadhum adhai thaduppadhum avan leelai
UdukkaLil saram thodutthavan thalai mudikkaNiyavum koodum
Perukkalum adhai vagutthalum adhai kazhitthalum avan pAdam
Marum yugam dhorum avan kaNakkin padiyAgum
MaNNum uyar viNNum avan oru kaippidiyAgum
Sattam anaithum vagutthavan
Thittam anaithum thogutthavan
Ottrap padithu muditha uruthan
(When I get time, I will re-publish the previous part in Unicode font, it’s only fair)
Bharathi is extremely worried about the inequalities in people, most importantly in the name of caste. He considers that after India got her independence, the country has a big task of dealing with the problem of untouchables. He cannot afford to wait for independence to begin working on this problem. His intensity of intentions and (desired) urgency in actions forces him to start a revolution — NOW. I cannot express how this intensity shakes the heck out of me — especially when he brings a bunch of untouchable kids to his music concert (otherwise exclusive to Brahmins and ruler community). To bring a sense of oneness among the people in the struggle against the British for independence, to thwart the divide within the people he loved too much, he did the most daring thing — daring considering the circumstances of the day — he danced with a bunch of untouchable kids in a religious ceremony sacrosanct to the upper caste people and with all the audacity in the world — declared them Brahmins. In that moment, he does not care about the world, he doesn’t care about the people in it, in his mind — all men were created equal and in that moment, he made sure they were.
Bharathi was a necessary personality in those times, but I think he was too forward for his times and that is why he had such an eventless end.
I was reading this book Fountainhead and we were having a discussing on which real life character comes closest to Howard Roark — and without a doubt, it was Subramanya Bharathi. Indeed he is a Mahakavi.