[tscii:0515d6a104]SIVAJI SEASON

யார் அந்த நிலவு



1. Mellisai Ma Mannar M.S. Viswanathan – The Music Genius who was kind enough to speak about the background and the incident behind the composition of this song.

2. Mr. B.Lenin – Editor cum Director and s/o of Bheemsingh who was kind enough to throw light on the backdrop, the creation, execution and celebration of this film

3. Mr.Mohanram

4. Mellisai Mannar MSV – written by Rani Maindhan

5. Oru Kuyilin Vaazhkai – Kavitha Albert

6. Various film magazines of yesteryears


கலை தாயின் தவப்புதல்வனுக்கு, நடிப்பு கலையின் நாயகனுக்கு அவரது நினைவு நாளான இன்று (ஜூலை 21 ). காணிக்கை


I dedicate this great song to Fellow Hubber Mr.Ramaswamy, a great fan of TMS.


A song that is immortal. A song that has been discussed, analysed and dissected for more than 4 decades. A song that proved that even a small sliver in a great artist's hands can act and fill the mood. A song that still makes people think of what they lost for eternity by the breakup of VR. We can add much more to this. Let us start from the conception.

Again we are going back to the great combo. Yes friends, this again is from the kitty of NT- Bheemsingh- Kannadasan – VR – TMS. A song that truly challenged the capability of everyone, (and ultimately everyone came out with flying colours) and yet the winner was ----


The combination of the jambaavans was making waves and no wonder many producers were more than willing to engage the full complement. There were many producers who benefited immensely by this combination. Take the case of Velumani. His Saravana Pictures produced Baagha Pirivinai and Paalum Pazhamum. Bheemsingh, MSV, Velumani were the partners of Buddha Pictures, which produced Pathi Bakthi and later Paava Mannippu. Rama. Arangannal and Mohideen Pitchai were the producers of Pachhai Vilakku under the banner of Vel films and later due to certain circumstances it became a joint venture with AVM. Mohan of Mohan Arts and M.R.Santhanam (F/o of director Santhana Bharathy) were the people behind Rajamani Pictures, which produced Paasa Malar. Paarthhal Pasi Theerum came under AVM Banner. Ranganathan Pictures produced Padithhaal Mattum Pothumaa. Bandha Paasam was under the banner of Shanthi Films, V.C. Subburaman of Kasthuri Films produced Paar Magale Paar and Bharatamatha Pictures was stared to help cameraman Vittal Rao and Thirumalai (associate director of Bheemsingh who later along with Mahalingam became a director duo and did Saadhu Mirandaal and Aalayam) and under its banner came Pazhani. It shows that all sorts of producers were more than happy to be a part of this bandwagon because almost all of them tasted success. It is no wonder that every producer wanted to produce a film with this wining combination to cash in on its tremendous success and popularity.


In-between, there was Petra Manam and Senthaamarai, which had the same combination, but since the films didn't do well, they did not get the required attention. Of the two mentioned, AL.Srinivasan produced Senthaamarai. Kannadasan was having his own production company but all the films he produced bombed at the Box office - Sivagangai Cheemai, Karuppu Panam and Kavalai Illaatha Manidhan to name a few. As readers are aware Kannadasan's brother was AL.Srinivasan and his AL.S Productions was actively into production. Senthaamarai was in production for too long and that adversely affected the movie in its BO performance. Now AL.S wanted to produce a film with this combination to offset the losses he incurred in Senthaamarai. He was vigorously pursuing NT regarding this. VCS gave the call sheet and the usual combination was fixed. But at that time little did they realize that this would be the last movie the combination would do.


Having decided to produce the film, they were scouting for a story. Every Paa series movie had a good story and so this also should have a strong story, it was decided. Again the asthaana storywriter of Bheemsingh movies, M.S.Solai Malai came to the rescue. The story he had in mind was family oriented but the difference was this time it concentrated on emotional struggle between the two (or shall we say three) main characters and this was the basis on which the screenplay was developed. As was vogue, this Bheemsingh film was also discussed threadbare and screenplay arrived at.

After Pathi Bhakthi in general and Baagha Pirivinai in particular, the Bheemsingh-NT jodi were doing a lot of films and it was quite common that a couple films were on the floor at the same time at any time and every calendar year saw more than one film featuring this team getting released.


Thus after Pachhai Vilakku that came in 1964, two films of NT directed by Bheemsingh were under production. One was Pazhani and the second was Shanthi a film produced by AL.S. While Pazhani was a village story that depicted the travails of innocent farmers migrating to the city, the other film was out and out a city based one. It starts in Chennai but moves to Madurai, where the entire story happens. Readers would remember that we discussed about Madurai being used as a backdrop of Bheemsingh films and we had taken Baagha Pirivinai, Paava Mannippu and Paalum Pazhamum as examples. Going further, Pathi Bakthi was Madurai based (remember the hero's name Pandiyan?) and Paar Magale Paar had its story happening at Madurai. Again this film Shanthi was based at Madurai. The reason was that writer M.S. Solaimalai was from Madurai and during those times, Madurai was the city that was easily recogonised by the common man. Added to it was the fact, it served as a lucky mascot for Bheemsingh.


The story starts in Chennai. The film opens with a set of students going back to their respective hometowns having finished their graduation. Out of these there are two who are very close, more like brothers. They even eat their food from a single plate. While Santhanam (NT), from a well to do family who only has his mother to take care of, belongs to Tiruchi, his friend Ramu (SSR) is from Dindigul. Ramu's parents are no more and his uncle MRR (Chittappa) is his guardian, who has a daughter. Ramu is fighting a legal battle over his ancestral property.

Santhanam's mother wants to get him married and they leave for Madurai to see a girl. At the doorstep of the house, Santhanam bumps into a girl and mistakes her to be the girl they have come to see. But when he goes in, he finds out that the girl he is supposed to see is another girl, Shanthi and he also learns that Shanthi is blind. Shanthi, as a child, had been struck by lightning and had gone blind but the marriage broker had not disclosed this information to them. Santhanam and his mother express their inability to proceed with the marriage proposal. The visually impaired girl Shanthi is shattered. Her cousin, who Santhanam had bumped into, consoles her.

On his way back, Santhanam stops at Dindigul to meet Ramu but he is not there. He meets his uncle and casually talks about the girl he had seen and about her condition. The information that the girl is quite rich makes the uncle devise a plan. He, knowing that his nephew has lost his legal case on his ancestral property, now goes and meets Shanthi's father. He informs them that his nephew is ready to marry the girl. He also shows Shanthi's photo to Ramu and makes him agree to marry her (without divulging to him the fact about her blindness). Ramu gives his marriage invitation to his servant to post it to Santhanam but the servant forgets to post it.

Meanwhile, Santhanam again comes across Mallika, Shanthi's cousin, at Tiruchy and falls in love with her. Though she is initially upset with him for rejecting her cousin, Shanthi, later reciprocates the love. She comes to know of her friend's marriage and she shares it with Santhanam. But both of them don't know that it is Ramu who is marrying her. Santhanam's mother meanwhile arranges for another alliance but on hearing that his son is in love with Mallika, informs the girl's father that they are not interested in the marriage, not knowing that Mallika is girl they are rejecting. But before they could do any damage control, Mallika and her father move out of Tiruchy and she on her way wishes her cousin Shanthi at Madurai and goes to Srivilliputtur for a teacher training programme.

Just after tying the mangalsutra, Ramu finds out the truth about Shanthi and he is totally shattered and leaves her without informing anybody. Shanthi is again crestfallen. Santhanam on knowing about Mallika's move to Madurai, comes to Shanthi's house only to be told of the developments and he goes in search of Ramu. He finds him in a common friend's house. He injects sense into his friend's mind and Ramu agrees to go back to his wife. Ramu sends a letter of regret for what he had done and promises to be there shortly. The entire family is happy. There is more happy news for the family. A specialist doctor on examining Shanthi opines that an operation could bring back the vision for her and the same is arranged. Shanthi is happy that she would be able to see her husband.

Before going back the friends plan a hunting expedition. There a tragedy strikes. A tiger on the prowl on seeing the men, tries to attack them and in the ensuing melee Ramu slips and falls down a waterfall and the friends fail to find him.

Assuming Ramu to be dead, Santhanam comes to Shanthi's house burdened with the job of informing the tragedy. On hearing the news Shanthi's father passes away. Shanthi on being told of her father's death breaks down. Doctor warns that any further shock would jeopardize her chances of regaining vision. Ramu's uncle, the scheming man that he is, asks Santhanam to impersonate as Ramu. Santhanam shocked by this refuses; but the uncle using all his cunning convinces him and even blackmails him to make him fall in line. Just to save Shanthi, Santhanam agrees to act as Ramu for a short period. The operation takes place successfully and Shanthi regains her vision.

But Santhanam finds himself in deeper trouble than he imagined. Shanthi taking Santhanam to be her husband Ramu is all love for him thinking that he had indeed made a sacrifice marrying a blind girl like her. This adds up to the troubles. Even Santhanam's mother is unaware of what has happened. Shanthi happens to see the photo of Ramu in Santhanam's room and he tells her that he is his close friend and is now dead.

As luck would have it, Ramu had actually survived the fall and returns to Shanthi's house. He understands that his uncle is behind the impersonation and other problems. On seeing him Shanthi is very happy as she feels that her "husband" would come out of his shell. Santhanam's joy, on hearing that Ramu is alive and that could save him from the situation he is in, is short lived because Ramu asks him to continue the drama. Ramu argues that if the truth were told, it would result in the death of Shanthi, however much one tried to reason with her. Santhanam even talks about ending his own life, but Ramu again warns that that may also result in the death of Shanthi. Santhanam's mother, on hearing this, summons him and he promises her that he has not done anything wrong and he will tell the truth. On his way back, he happens to meet Mallika and requests her to help him. But Ramu is stubborn and Santhanam is now at a dead end, not to say at his wits' end. How this tangle is resolved forms the climax.


The story after thorough discussion was transformed into an absorbing screenplay as could be seen above and it gave a lot of scope for the artists to perform. Unlike the other Bheemsingh movies, which used to have multiple characters, here it was restricted to 4 persons. While NT was already there and with the Santhanam character being assigned to him, Bheemsingh choose his other favourite SSR for Ramu and Vijayakumari was apt for Shanthi. Who else but MR.Radha can do the scheming villain? The pair for Santhanam didn't have much of a scope and in the second half she literally vanishes only to appear in the climax and Devika fit the bill. With Nagesh (as the servant at MRR's house) together with Manorama providing comic relief (but one must admit that the fare they dished out was below par) and Nagaiah appearing as the father of Shanthi, the casting was complete. Sandhya as the mother of Santhanam and SV Sahasranamam as the doctor did guest roles.

The picturisation pattern of Bheemsingh's films is simple and straight. They would completely finish the paperwork and then do the song composing and recording. With these ready, the shooting would start. In the case of Shanthi too, once the screenplay was ready, they sat for composition of the songs. Bheemsingh was be very clear about the song situations. He knew that the subject was heavy and he was treading a risky path. The story centered around, what they call in cinema circles, anti-sentiment. A man "acts" as a husband of a married woman, when the real husband is alive. So they decided that the latter half of the cinema would not have songs. The situations were like this:


A song, which would come at the very beginning. The students having finished their graduation sing happily while traveling in a vehicle that goes around the city. Kannadasan came out with the apt Pallavi "வாழ்ந்து பார்க்க வேண்டும்" .TMS and PBS sang the song. A simple tune but a catchy one at that. I would like to point out one thing here. NT was into politics and he had his own views regarding issues that dominated the political landscape of Tamilnadu. SSR, the other hero was in the opposite camp (ie) DMK and when this movie was released, he was a member of Tamilnadu Legislative Assembly (MLA), having been elected from Theni in the 1962 General Elections. This movie was released when Tamilnadu was experiencing the heat of anti-Hindi agitation, which had started some 3 months before (Jan 25th of 1965) this movie was released [April 1965]. Congress and DMK had taken diametrically opposite stands on this issue. Coming to this song, in the charanam there is a line தமிழும் வாழ வேண்டும், for which SSR would lip-sync with folded hands, while standing in the open jeep. It was a political statement by SSR. While NT and Kannadasan were Congressmen, they had the utmost respect for Tamil. If you check, at this point NT leaning on the rails above the driver seat would just smile. Again goes to show how magnanimous he was. He could have very easily put his foot down but he being the gentleman never imposed his views on others. As for the song, both TMS and PBS oozed energy and Mellisai Mannargal had even used the car horn sound to enhance the beauty.

The second song situation was brought into the scene after the hero and his mother leave the bride's home after expressing their inability to proceed with the marriage proposal. Shanthi is totally dejected and her cousin consoles her by singing ஊரெங்கும் மாப்பிளை ஊர்வலம், where the marriage rituals are superimposed during the song. PS by her honey soaked voice used the right mix of the pathos to make it haunting number.

There need to be a duet for the hero and heroine. It was a normal practice and also after this the moods drastically change. Bheemsingh used a different approach. MSV and Bheemsingh had attempted a novel way of song composition, when they tried to do a song only through whistle without any lyrics. This was considered for Paar Magale Paar but Kannadasan negatived that thought and so they could not test it. This was at the back of Bheemsingh's mind and during Shanthi he decided to go ahead with it. But he made a slight change. The heroine would sing and hero would just whistle on his part. MSV did a beautiful composition on the basis of western beats and the arrangements attempted made it unique. நெஞ்சத்திலே நீ நேற்று வந்தாய் was born. Again PS did a wonderful job and listen to the way she sings the line நூலிடை மீது ஒரு மேகலையாட and listen when she finishes the charanam with the husky voice. MSV did the whistling part and NT was style personified. The walk, the look and the lip-sync for the whistle, wow! Such types of nuances remain etched in mind as vignettes.

The next song was conceived when the letter from the husband arrives informing about his change of heart and his impending arrival. Again MSV went for a simple tune and செந்தூர் முருகன் கோவிலிலே was born. A linear song (when compared to others) but nevertheless a huge hit. PS and PBS combined together to give a beautiful melody. The same song with slight variation sung only by PS comes in the second half when Vijayakumari believes NT to be her husband.


With the screenplay getting over and songs composed, the shooting was kick-started and it was going at a brisk pace. As mentioned earlier both Pazhani and Shanthi were on the floor. Both of them had almost the same actors. When the shooting was nearing the end, the think tank team had a session. During those days, the team would watch the movie rushes and would decide upon corrective steps, if required. Shanthi was also reviewed in the same manner. The team felt that somewhere something was lacking. They could feel that the second half was a bit dry and felt that the audience was needed to be told why the hero was doing the things he was doing. So how would you go about it? There were some suggestions. While one section wanted a song included, the other spoke about a scene comprising a monologue by the hero.


Bheemsingh took this matter up with NT. He was ok with both the suggestions and they decided to go for both. It was decided to have a monologue or soliloquy. NT and Bheemsingh knew that Solaimalai, though a talented person, could not write for such a situation. NT suggested the name of Thanjai Vanan. He was a powerful writer involved with Sivaji Nataka Mandram. He had written Kalam Kanda Kavignan and he was the one who later wrote screenplay and dialogues for Chatrapathi Sivaji that was telecast by Mumbai Doordharshan Kendra [discussed during the last song]. Thanjai Vanan was apprised of the story and the situation that led to the scene where a monologue was to be. He came up with a piece that was apt and devoid of any literary bombardment. It was conceived as a dream sequence when the protagonist unable to withstand the mental agony speaks out. NT would stand in a staircase, his back facing the camera. Dressed in full black, he would turn towards the camera and start Varugiren, Irangi Varugiren.

Bheemsingh by this time had become equally busy in Hindi films also. He was remaking his own Tamil movies in Hindi and during this time he was doing the movie Khandan, the Hindi remake of Baagha Pirivinai. So his associate Thirumalai (who also was related to Bheemsingh) took care of the shooting. There was one problem. The cameraman of the film Vittal Rao had taken ill and so was not in a position to crank the camera. Cameraman Karnan was a friend of Bheemsingh and on Bheemsingh's request, he accepted to do the camera work. Karnan by then had worked for another NT film "Kai Kodutha Deivam" (released in 1964) and his camera angles (especially for the song Sindhu Nadhyin misai Nilavinile- in the charanams picturised on the boat) were noticed and appreciated. Here also in Shanthi the two scenes (soliloquy and song) for which he wielded the camera would look different compared to the work done by Vittal Rao. While Vittal Rao's work was plain and bright, Karnan used subtle shades of light and shadow effectively to capture the mood and ambience.


At the shooting spot, NT as usual did a good job of the monologue and everyone was happy. But not NT. He told Thirumalai that he was not fully satisfied. He wanted to do it again. He asked Thirumalai to do it the next day and sent a person to MSV with a message that asked MSV to meet him. MSV went and met NT. There NT explained to him about the scene and he made a request that MSV come with his orchestra to the shooting spot. The next day MSV went to the shooting spot and NT asked him to play the orchestra the way he would for a re-recording exercise. Normally the scene is shot and later re-recording will be carried out in the recording studio. But here on NT's advise, re-recording sort of orchestration was done at the time of shooting. NT this time out performed himself giving expression to the dialogue and the way he did it was a treat for the onlookers. Especially when he says, "Am I a scape goat?" Everybody was more than happy. But it must be noted here that during the regular re-recording, MSV changed the earlier BGM and did it in a different manner.


Now came the song part. Almost all movies of NT would have a song, which expressed the protagonist's mood, and Bheemsingh's movies were no exception. Till that time the songs were more or less on similar pattern, including in Bheemsingh's movies. The public in general had a perception of how the hero would sing such a song and they would almost make up their mind to expect it in a similar fashion. Bheemsingh wanted to change this perception. He told NT that he would inform him once the song was ready.

Having made up his mind, Bheemsingh told MSV about his thinking and asked him to think out of the box. MSV was a music director who always loved to experiment but at the same time he would only do it if the director/producer/actor agreed with that. Now with a director like Bheemsingh to back him up, MSV was more than happy to experiment. There arose a plan in his mind. At that period, he was very much impressed by a musician from West, who was making waves in USA and UK.

Before proceeding to that, let us delve into one of the most talked about separation in the entire history of Tamil film world. Yes, I am talking about the separation that happened between two of the greatest music directors that Tamil film world has ever produced (i.e.) Viswanathan – Ramamoorthy.


We have to go back in history, albeit briefly, to the period when cinema shooting was taking place outside Chennai. AVM studio was initially at Devakottai Raastha, Modern Theatres was in Salem (till it closed down, Modern theatres continued to function at Salem) and Jupiter Studio was in Coimbatore [they were producing their own films from Coimbatore Central Studio, which they had leased]. As per the practice prevalent during those days, the artists and technicians were on monthly hire. SM Subbiah Naidu was the aasthana Music director for Jupiter movies. MSV, who had come to Coimbatore in search of greener pastures from his native village of Ilapulli village in Palakkad District, was working as an assistant to SMS. He was musically trained but never got any chance to exhibit his skill. Instead he was assigned to look after bigger artists and technicians and he was doing all sorts of sundry jobs. He was close to SMS and would be near him when he composed. This was making him more determined and the urge to become a music director was growing in him.

During that period, the movie Veera Abhimanyu was in the making and one particular song was proving difficult for SMS. Repeated attempts failed to break the impasse. MSV was witnessing all these happenings. One night, when everybody had gone, MSV took the harmonium and sang the song in a tune he composed. His companions GK Venkatesh and CR Gopalakrishnan were with him. Suddenly they realized that someone was watching them and found SMS there. MSV was frightened to the core and thought that he would be sent out. But contrary to his expectation SMS was very happy when he learnt that MSV had composed the tune. But what he told next shocked MSV. SMS asked him to take care of the recording the next day but he had to say that SMS had composed the song. That song was புது வசந்தமே வாழ்விலே இனி புதிதாய் மணமே பெறுவோமே. Tiruchy Loganathan and U.R. Jeevarathnam were the singers. MSV had no other go but to heed what he was told to do. SMS now started using MSV's talent to compose the tunes but it would come out only in the name of SMS.

Jupiter found that operating the studio in Coimbatore was not a viable proposition and they decided to shift to Chennai. All the technical staff were asked to leave. MSV didn't know what to do. SM Subbiah Naidu took MSV to the Jupiter Studio owner and he told the whole truth about the song composition and when the owner heard that MSV was behind the famous songs, he didn't even think twice and took MSV along with him. MSV who was sulking at the treatment suddenly realized how great his guru was. He came to Chennai and continued to work for Jupiter. He was the primary assistant for CR Subburaman. His first break came when Chandra Pictures owner Eepachhan gave him the break by making him the Music director of Jenova. MSV accepted and composed songs for the film. Everybody liked it and his name was getting popular. But the humble man that he is, MSV continued to work for CR Subburaman.

[An interesting info about Jenova songs is the hero of the movie did not accept MSV as music director. Yes, MGR was shocked on hearing that MSV would be the music director because he had seen MSV in Jupiter Pictures as an office boy and he had his own doubts about the boy's capabilities. But when he heard the songs he was more than happy. The same MGR who had said NO to MSV later was recommending him for all his movies].

Again fortune smiled on him through Kalaivaanar N.S.Krishnan. NSK was planning to direct a movie. He had come out of prison where he had been imprisoned along with M.K.Thiagaraja Baaghavathar, on the charge of murdering Lakshmikanthan, the owner of Indhu Nesan, a shady newspaper, which prospered on publishing vicious gossip on prominent personalities of Tamilnadu. NSK had booked one V.C.Ganesan, a drama artist as hero and the second one of Travancore sisters- Padmini as heroine. At that time V.C.Ganesan was doing another movie Parasakthi. NSK wanted Krishnan-Panchu to direct his movie titled Panam. KP busy with already committed movies asked NSK to direct the movie himself and they advised him to take their associate director Bheemsingh as an assistant. NSK readily agreed and Bheemsingh came with him. NSK wanted to give a chance to a new music director and he immediately thought of MSV, whom he had seen at close quarters at Jupiter and called up MSV. MSV was thrilled but he politely told NSK that he intended to include T.K.Ramamoorthy, who was also working as an assistant to CR Subburaman and proposed that they work as musical duo like Shankar–Jaikishan of Bollywood. TKR was a violinist and a classic one at that. He was seven years older than MSV. So MSV had great respect for him (still continues to have). TKR initially was not inclined favourably to this proposal but later relented and agreed. While MSV wanted the name card to be Ramamoorthy-Viswanathan, NSK suggested that it should be Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy, because it would reflect that the senior standing behind the junior backing him up; moreover, this the sound of Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy had a musical rhyme. Thus Panam heralded the arrival of Mellisai Mannargal. It so happened that these music directors started their musical journey from a film acted by NT and co-directed by Bheemsingh. In fact it was NT who gave the title Mellisai Mannargal to VR in a function organized by the Triplicane cultural academy. The Golden period of Tamil cinema started from there and the musical duo soon touched great heights hitherto untouched.

Panam (1952) was NT's 2nd film and Shanthi (1965) was his 103rd film. Mellisai Mannargal did 25 films out of this. It so happened that the great combination came to an end where it started. VR were uncrowned kings of TFM in the late 50s and with the Paa series of Bheemsingh, they touched new heights. Their very name in the title card brought applause. Most of the readers must be aware of the songs they composed and the quality of the songs, which are still green in memory. But as it happens there started to emerge differences of opinion and the vested interest groups waiting to fish in troubled waters swung into action and they succeeded in driving a wedge between the two. Things came to such a pass that they decided that it would be futile to continue in this manner and decided to part ways. They were completing the committed movies and Pazhani and Shanthi were among them. It was not only because of commitment to the films but their love towards Bheemsingh. Bheemsingh knowing that the inevitable was going to happen had finished all songs. But now arose a situation for which he needed them again (i.e.) for the new song he proposed to include.


Now we come back to where we left off. Bheemsingh approached MSV and TKR and out of sheer love and affection for Bheemsingh they agreed to do it. Remember we were talking about a Western musician who was making waves at that time and MSV getting impressed by him. He was none other than Cliff Richards, a vocalist cum guitarist. He was born in British India [Lucknow] but moved out to Britain after India's independence. Music was such a passion for him and he learnt music and started to compose and sing. He had his own troupe "The Shadows" and he was gaining popularity day by day. His usage of guitar was so good that MSV wanted to compose something in that style. Now when Bheemsingh came up with the situation, MSV decided to do it then. He asked Kannadasan to come and he came.

Their song composition session would always be cheerful with both of them trying to pull other's legs. Normally when they sit for composing, Kannadasan would ask "சந்தத்துக்கா இல்லை சொந்தத்துக்கா?" meaning whether the tune has already been composed (சந்தம்) or he had to write the lyrics first (சொந்தம்). When Kannadasan came for this song he asked the same question and MSV to make fun of him said வந்ததுக்கு ஏதாவது எழுதுங்க. Kannadasan retorted என்னடா என்கிட்டயே வார்த்தை விளையாட்டா?

MSV making use of the guitar had composed the tune already and Bheemsingh had approved. Bheemsingh explained the situation and MSV played the tune. Kannadasan looked up and said சாதாரணமா நீ போடற மாதிரி இல்லையே for which Bheemsingh replied இந்த மாதிரி different-a வேணும்னு நான் தான் சொன்னேன். Kannadasan reading the situation quickly decided to do away with ethukai monai (i.e) not being particular on that but still came out with powerful words that were apt for the situation. The opening line யார் அந்த நிலவு itself caught the fancy of the people present. Bheemsingh simply loved the lines in the pallavi

யாரோ சொல்ல யாரோ என்று
யாரோ தந்த உறவு
காலம் செய்த கோலம் இங்கு
நான் வந்த வரவு

it seems. When they finished, the song had come out well. Now recording was fixed.


TMS came to the studio and MSV just gave him the song and the tune. TMS was adjusting his tone when MSV approached him with a request. அண்ணே இந்த பாட்டை நீங்க வேறு பாணியிலே பாடணும்.வழக்கமா நீங்க பாடுற கட்டையிலே பாடாம, அதை கொஞ்சம் குறைச்சிக்கிட்டு half open voice-nu சொல்லுவாங்களே அப்படி பாடணும். TMS on hearing this was shocked and angry. He said என்னடா நீங்க ரெண்டு பெரும் சண்டை போட்டுக்கிட்டு பிரிஞ்சிட்டிங்க. அடுத்து என்ன பண்ண போறீங்கனு தெரியலே. என்னையும் field- ஐ விட்டு தொறதரதனு முடிவு பண்ணிட்டியா?. MSV said என்னண்ணே, இப்படி சொல்றீங்க?. TMS replied அப்புறம்? இந்த மாதிரி நான் பாடினா அதுவும் இந்த situation- க்கு இப்படி பாடினா எடுபடுமா? But MSV was firm and in a polite tone told TMS that the song had to be sung only in that manner. TMS was senior to MSV and he knew him from Coimbatore Jupiter Pictures days and he had a soft corner for MSV. It is not that TMS had not sung such soft or half open voice songs. He had in fact sung ஞாயிறு என்பது கண்ணாக, பூப் போல பூப் போல பிறக்கும், மடி மீது தலை வைத்து , வெள்ளி நிலா முற்றத்திலே etc. But all the above mentioned songs (except poo pola, which was done by Sudharsanam) due to some sheer coincidence were under KV Mahadevan. Moreover having heard about the song situation, he felt that it should be high pitched. Knowing MSV, he did his part as desired by MSV.


Just to highlight the part of TMS, look at the way he pronounces the words. Instead of his usual அழுத்தமான உச்சரிப்பு, he would have caressed the words. Especially in the charanam when the word தெய்வமே comes, first time listener would expect TMS to hit the roof but TMS in a half open voice would caress தெய்வமேas if he is doing it with a மயில் பீலீ. Then come the lullabies at the end of each charanam and again you feel the emotion of the protagonist caught in no man's land. With TKR taking care of orchestration, recording ended perfectly.


Thus this song became the last song composed by the Mellisai Mannargal for an NT film. The journey that started in Panam ended with Shanthi. As mentioned earlier Shanthi was released in 1965. NT had 5 films in that year. Pazhani was the first one that had VR music. Second one was Anbu Karangal that had R.Sudharsanam scoring music. Shanthi was the third that eventually turned out to be the last for the duo. Thiruvilayadal followed it and being an APN film had music by Mama (KVM). The last film of NT in the calendar year 1965 was Neelavanam that saw MSV doing music alone for the first time for an NT film.

Ayirathil Oruvan is listed as the last film of this duo because it was released on July 9th of 1965, whereas Shanthi was released on April 22nd of 1965. But technically speaking Yaar Andha Nilavu might be the last song they did together. Why this doubt is raised is because AO was announced in Nov 1964 and the work started for the movie immediately. All the songs were recorded and the entire crew left for Goa–Karwar– Mangalore where the shooting was carried out. This was in January–February of 1965 and in fact there was a section in DMK which murmured that while the party men were organizing protests against Hindi and getting arrested and jailed, MGR was singing duets in Goa. This section had not taken kindly to MGR resigning his MLC seat given by the party and his subsequent announcement காமராஜர் என் தலைவர். அண்ணா என் வழிகாட்டி. MGR had to issue a statement that he had taken the permission of the party high command to go for the shooting. In this context the song Yaar andha Nilavu was done only a month before the release and therefore it was recorded in March 1965. So the chances of Yaar Andha Nilavu being the last song of Mellisai Mannargal cannot be ruled out and at the same time it cannot be confirmed either because MSV doesn't remember the dates of recording for both the films.


The breakup of the Mellisai Mannargal had sent shock waves through the cine world and outside it. Even friends who were outside the industry but still were close to the duo advised them against the break up. One among them was Mr.V.P.Raman, the advocate and father of actor/hubber Mohanram. But more than MSV, it seemed that it was TKR who was more adamant and wanted to go it alone. So Mr.V.P. Raman, a close friend advised them to carry out the separation in the proper manner and he drafted a dissolution deed between the two and Mohanram recalls the sad day when the drafting and signing of the same happened at their Lloyds Road residence. But as irony would have it, when they decided to join together after 30 years, director Vasanth decided to do a promo film on their joining together and the shooting was held at Mohanram's residence at Alwarpet. So Mohanram happens to be a witness to both break up and merger of the duo.


As mentioned earlier Bheemsingh was having a shooting clash of dates with his Hindi film and Shanthi and asked Thirumalai to take care of Shanthi. He informed NT that the song was ready and NT came and listened to the song. He wanted the song to be played a second time. No one could read his face. He left the studio. Bheemsingh discussed with Thirumalai about the pasteurization and he asked him to do the shooting in the park set created for the song. It had a lake, trees and flowers and looked like a real garden/park. Karnan was informed about the shoot as Vital Rao was still unwell and having made all arrangements, Bheemsingh not aware of what was in store went for the Hindi film shooting. The production manager went the next morning to Annai Illam and informed NT about the shooting. But NT told him that he could not come on that day and asked him to defer the shooting to the next day. Bheemsingh's unit did not think much of it and thought perhaps NT was busy. The next day the production manager again went to Annai Illam only to be told of another postponement. He came and reported the same to the unit. Now the unit started suspecting that something was wrong and neither Thirumalai nor Mahalingam could bring themselves up to go and meet NT and find out the reason. The matter was conveyed to Bheemsingh. He was surprised because NT's sincerity and commitment to his profession were well known and his postponement of shooting for the song was something unheard of and one that Bheemsingh could not decipher. He decided to go and find out for himself what was holding NT up from shooting for the song.

The next day Bheemsingh went to Annai Illam. NT received him with his usual cheerfulness. (வாய்யா பீம்பாய்). Bheemsingh, after a brief exchange, came to the topic of cancellation of the shooting. He straightaway asked him about the song. ஏன் சிவாஜி பாய் என்னச்சு உங்களுக்கு? ஏன் ஷூட்டிங் வேண்டாம்-னு சொன்னீங்க? பாட்டு உங்களுக்கு பிடிக்கில்லையா? அப்படினா சொல்லுங்க மாத்திடலாம். வேற பாட்டு ரெகார்ட் பண்ணிக்குவோம் NT looking at him replied இல்லை பீம்பாய். எனக்கு பாட்டு ரொம்ப பிடிச்சிருக்கு. பார்த்தீங்கனா நம்ம படத்திலே இந்த மாதிரி பாட்டு வந்ததில்லை. விசு இருக்கானே அப்படியே மனசை தொடர மாதிரி ஒரு ட்யூன் போட்டிருக்கான். கவிஞன் இருக்கானே அந்த கேரக்டரின் மனசாட்சி பாடற மாதிரியே வார்த்தைகளை போட்டு எழுதியிருக்கான். அட நம்ம டிஎம்எஸ் பாருங்க, தன்னுடைய கம்பீர குரலையே ஸாப்டா மாத்திக்கிட்டு நம்மை எங்கேயோ கொண்டு போயிட்டார். தியேட்டரிலே படம் பார்க்கிற ஆடியன்ஸ் இவங்க performance-ஐ தான் பார்ப்பாங்க. இந்த ஸீன்லே நான் என்ன வித்தியாசமா பண்ணா ஜனங்க மனசிலே நிக்க முடியும்-னு ரெண்டு நாளா யோசனை பண்ணிட்டிருந்தேன். இப்போ ஓகே. ஷூட்டிங் நாளைக்கு வச்சிக்கோ.

Bheemsingh was stunned. An actor par excellence, a person who had done more than 100 films was thinking and doing homework for trying to establish his excellence over the lyrist, music director and singer. Bheemsingh was bowled over. NT asked him to fix up the shooting for the next day. Bheemsingh told him that he would not be available and NT assured him that all would be well.


The next day NT came for the shooting. He asked the song to be played again. He listened keenly and informed that he was ready. The camera was switched on. The song started with a guitar beat (which is now the lead bit for Amudha Ganam – a programme on old songs hosted by Aadhavan in Mega TV). NT would enter the park with a stylised walk with a cigarette dangling in his fingers. NT was dressed in black trousers and grey colour full-sleeved shirt. For the initial beat NT after entering the park would walk towards the interior. He would take a puff and when the prelude stops, he would exactly open his mouth when the first line starts யார் அந்த நிலவு and smoke would just roll over his face. For the next line ஏன் இந்த கனவு he would slightly jerk his shoulder and lip-sync. When the lines follow like யாரோ, he would do a gesture with his left hand holding the cigarette that would convey that யாரோ was there back at home. With the same left hand gesture and with a minimum effort would indicate that he had been entangled in this vicious web, during the lines இங்கு நான் வந்த வரவு.

He would slowly walk and you could read his mind struggling to find a solution and even at this juncture his steps would adhere to the தாள லயம, which we have been used to. In the charanam at the end of the first two lines, he would do a unique style with the cigarette.
மாலையும் மஞ்சளும் மாறியதே ஒரு சோதனை
மஞ்சம் நெஞ்சம் வாடுவதே பெரும் வேதனை.

He would hold the cigarette upside down and with a slight jerk would spill the ash. A style unmatched and unparalleled so far. For the second charanam he would sit in the bench when he utters தெய்வமே! and the lullabies expressed with a pleading expression.

He would get up and turn his back toward the camera and start the pallavi again. Can you think of any actor worth his salt turning his back to the camera and still able to convey the expression he is supposed to show? No way. Without showing his face and again with a left-handed gesture he would continue to emote. Only after that he would turn his face and start walking back. Imagine any actor in this scene and you know why he is the greatest. Even the smoke emanating from the cigarette would mirror the fluidity of the situation. His observation and timing as usual would be astonishing. Especially when the song comes to an end, it would look as if he was going put the cigarette to his lips while singing but he would delay it to the last moment and put it to his lips only after he stopped singing and this was done in a single continuous shot.

Cigarette smoking was stylized by NT (Sorry, Mr.Anbumani). Even a teetotaler would be fascinated and tempted to light up when one sees NT doing a puff. Some classic examples are Paartha Gnabagam Illaiyo from Puthiya Paravai, Padaithane from Nichya Thamboolam, Appadi enna paarvai angum ingum from Paaladai and Thedinen Vandhadhu in Ooty Varai Uravu. In this category we can also include Mayangiraal oru Maadhu in Paasa Malar.

Another factor to be noted is Enge Nimmadhi and Yaar Andha Nilavu belong to the same genre but see how differently he had done both. That is Nadigar Thilagam for you.

Bheemsingh though was in another set had second thoughts after he had met NT. He was curious and wanted to witness first hand how NT was going to emote. He came when the song was half way through. He asked Thirumalai to continue and sat there as a spectator thoroughly enjoying the acting. He always used to say that NT was a performer first and foremost and then only a star. How true!


On a statistical note this film would be always remembered for being the last NT film that Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy did music for. But there are certain "lasts" that are attached to this film. Nadigar Thilagam and Nadigavel shared screen space for the last time in this film. Again call it as an irony, this combination of NT-MRR that came together in Bheemsingh directed Baagha Pirivinai in 1959, had their last act together in the same Bheemsingh directed Shanthi in 1965. In the same manner, for SSR, who had acted with NT in many films starting from Parasakthi, this was the second last movie and as far as characterization was concerned this can be termed the last because, in the last movie they acted together which was KB's Edhiroli, SSR didn't have a meaty role to boast of. Even for Bheemsingh-NT combination, Shanthi was the last talked about film of substance. After Shanthi, there were two films from this combo. One was Paaladai that came in 1967 and second one was Paadhukaappu that was released in 1970. For Paaladai two factors worked against it. One, it was in the making for long and two, when it finally released, its story was almost similar to Pesum Deivam, which had preceded Paaladai by 2 months. As for Paadhukaappu, it was a heroine-oriented story and NT was only one of the three men connected to the heroine. So by all counts, Shanthi was a film to be remembered for all times.


During the release of Shanthi the situation in Tamilnadu had undergone a sea change when compared to the previous year. The previous year 1964 had turned out to be an eventful one for NT. He had 7 films released out of which 5 crossed 100 days. Out of the remaining two, Aandavan Kattalai though didn't run for 100 days was a successful venture for the producer/distributor. Muradan Muthu was the only movie that failed at the BO. The year also saw NT successfully completing 100 movies and the 100th movie Navarathiri saw him donning 9 different roles. But as readers know this had created the rift between NT and BR Panthulu and BRP crossed over to the opposite camp.

1965 Pongal saw Pazhani getting released. Based on the problems faced by the farmers and the dreadful effects of farmers' migration to urban areas, the serious movie didn't go down well with the viewers. The fact that it had to compete with one of the best entertainers from a big production house and that it was released against the backdrop of the anti–Hindi agitation that started on Jan 25th of 1965 directed against the Congress Governments both at the state and central level also went against the movie. It is quite another story that Pazhani on subsequent releases did extremely well. The next movie Anbu Karangal (Feb 1965) also didn't help NT. Again it was in the midst of anti–Hindi agitation and again an emotional drama didn't do so well. Vested interests were claiming that with BR Panthulu crossing over and even Bheemsingh failing at the BO (Pazhani), it was an uphill task for NT. So all eyes were on Shanthi. To make matters worse, Shanthi was awarded "A" certificate by the censors. Bheemsingh was shocked. He had a word with the board members. Eminent personalities like Soundara Kailasam were in the board and she told Bheemsingh that it was awarded "A" certificate for the theme. Though nothing untoward happens in the story, the fact that another person "acts" as a husband of a married woman when the real husband is alive is a sensitive issue and hence the "A' certificate. The team was a little bit worried because during those days A certificate was very rare and it indicated adult-only scenes, which would be a deterrent for the women audience, the backbone of NT films.


But proving everyone wrong, the film released on 22.04.1965 was well received by the audience and when the women audience came to know that it was an emotional saga, they came in droves and Shanthi went on to complete 100 days and put a stop to speculative comments and wishful thinking. And with the next film Thiruvilayaadal rewriting BO history, NT firmly established that he was not only King of acting but also King at the BO. Sivaji Films went on to produce the same film in Hindi. Titled Gowri, it starred Sunil Dutt, Nutan and Sanjeev Kumar. It was a success but not as great as the original.

Before signing off, my personal experience. Since it was a 1965 release, I didn't see the movie then and this was eluding me for a very long time. What I heard about the movie and the songs that were being aired through radio kept me guessing and finally when I caught up with the movie in 1979 when it was released again in Madurai – New Deluxe theatre, it was worth the wait.

I started with the question of who would be the winner in this competition and by now everyone would be aware that it was NT who stole the thunder.

Here is the lyric

யார் அந்த நிலவு
ஏன் இந்த கனவு
யாரோ சொல்ல யாரோ என்று
யாரோ தந்த உறவு
காலம் செய்த கோலம் இங்கு
நான் வந்த வரவு

(யார் அந்த நிலவு)

மாலையும் மஞ்சளும் மாறியதே ஒரு சோதனை
மஞ்சம் நெஞ்சம் வாடுவதே பெரும் வேதனை.
யாரிடம் யாரை நீ தந்தாயோ
உன் கோவில் தீபம் மாறியதை நீ அறிவாயோ
ஒ! ஒ !
கோவில் தீபம் மாறியதை நீ அறிவாயோ

(யார் அந்த நிலவு)

ஆடிய நாடகம் முடியவில்லை ஒரு நாளிலே
அங்கும் இங்கும் சாந்தி இல்லை சிலர் வாழ்விலே
யாருடன் மேடையில் நீ நின்றாயோ
இன்று யாரை யாராய் நேரினிலே கண்டாயோ.
ஒ! ஒஹோ1 ஒ!

(யார் அந்த நிலவு)


Quote Originally Posted by RR