Kaviperarasu Vairamuthu is celebrating his birthday on July 13 and the age doesn’t matter. The poet of all seasons and all reasons has always kept our psyche very young with his Tamil. Still fresh with his sixth National film honour, Vairamuthu is relishing with utmost humility, his status of being the most preferred lyricist for the past three decades.
Happy Birthday, Sir!
Tamil cinema’s revolutionary phase in the late seventies introduced a lot of young men who were hell bent to change Tamil cinema for better. Their collective work in effect altered the course of Tamil cinema to its roots. Sons of the soil like Bharathiraja, Bhagyaraj emerged and movies with rural themes began to flourish. One man who served as a pillar to all the effervescent changes then was Vadugapatti Vairamuthu. Now, Kaviperarasu Vairamuthu.
Before cinema, Vairamuthu arrived on the literary scene with his first collection of poems ‘Vaigarai Megangal’ creating ripples in the late 70s. Young fans of that generation still remember Vairamuthu’s Elegy for Shobha. All these positioned him high as a poet of promise.
Vairamuthu entered films in 1980 teaming up with Ilayaraja and the combine produced some of the best musicals of the 80s and 90s Tamil cinema, much like the combo of Kannadasan and MS Viswanathan (Ramamurthy) in the 50s and 60s.
The poet Vairamuthu who began his contribution with ‘Ponmalai Pozhuthu’ in 1980 has delivered more than 7000 songs until now. When Vairamuthu entered the film world he was forced to write for `mettu’ (tune). Even then he managed excellent lyrics like `Sangeetha Jathi Mullai’ for ‘Kadal Oviyam’. Vairamuthu says at that time he was envious about his predecessors like Udumalai Narayana Kavi, Maruthakasi and Kannadasan who were fortunate and got some of the best situations and good family stories to write lyrics for.
But as life had it Vairamuthu later accomplished what he desired. Even AR Rahman sometimes prefers to create a tune for his words and not otherwise. ‘Yakaithiri Kadhal Sudar’ song in Ayutha Ezhuthu was one such. If Vairamuthu excelled in these two conventional habits, he also excelled in a novel situation recently. His award winning song ‘Kallikkaattil Porandha Thaayae’ from the film, ‘Thenmaerku Paruvakaatru’ was written after the song’s visuals was filmed.
Vairamuthu is considered essentially a romantic poet by most people. Of course his love songs have no parallels. Who else can imagine lines like ‘Ingu rendu jaathi malligai thottu kollum kaaman pandigai, Koyilil kaathal thozhugai’ or ‘Mogam theerave vaa en arukile Ullam koyil kangal deepam Poojai kaanalaam’. But his passion for socialistic ideals, Mother Nature and humanity is definitely not second to his themes of love.
Vairamuthu is said to have been influenced by Shelley, Keats, Khalil Gibran, Firdausi and Nezami, which emphatically proves the diversity of his poetic themes. He developed his own language of poetry by mixing tradition with modernism.
Vairamuthu’s superior imagery and out of the world imagination can be seen in all kinds of his songs. Imageries like ‘Vanamagal Nanugiral Veru Udai Poonugiral’ in ‘Ponmalai Pozhuthu’, ‘Indhiran Thotathu Munthiriye Manmatha Naatukku Manthiriye’ in ‘Anthimazhai Pozhigirathu’, ‘Inivarum Munivarum Thadumarum Kanimaram’ in ‘Panivizhum Malarvanam’ are worthy envy to any lyricist. There are many more…
Even red line revolutionary songs like ‘Manitha Manitha Ini Un Vizhigal Sivanthal’ from ‘Kann Sivanthal Man Sivakkum’, ‘Erimali Eppadi Porukkum’ from ‘Sivappumalli’ , ‘Kanavu Kaanum Vazhkai’ from ‘Neengal Kettavai’ even made people to compare Vairamuthu to Kannadasan. But the comparison is irrelevant as Tamil language is so rich that many more poets still have a lot to exploit.
For the records Kannadasan got one National Award for Best Lyrics in 1961 for the film ‘Kuzhanthaikkaga’. But Vairamuthu has received the same award 6 times so far. His National Award winning songs are these: ‘Poonkatru Thirumbuma’ – ‘Muthal Mariyathai’ (1985), ‘Chinna Chinna Aasai’ – ‘Roja’ (1993) , ‘Poraalae Ponnu Thaaye’ – ‘Karuthamma’ (1995), ‘Muthal Murai Killi Paarthaen’ – ‘Sangamam’ (2000), ‘Oru Theivam Thantha Poovae’ – ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’ (2003) and ‘Kallikkaattil Pirandha Thaaye’ – ‘Thenmerku Paruvakaatru’ (2011). (But repeat: no comparisons please).
Even outside the confines of cinema Vairamuthu is a perfect man for his literature. No wonder The Library of Congress has twenty-three books by him and two about him. Though he is one of the four most successful film lyricists ever in Tamil cinema, Vairamuthu is always of the belief that it is literature that makes a man perfect. As a famous littérateur, Vairamuthu is for socialist ideology. He says for every poet there is something he believes in. For Bharathi, it was nationalism, for Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram, it was socialism and for Vairamuthu it is the earth and the people who inhabit it, their emotions and responses. His most popular literary works’ Kallikattu Ithikasam’ and ‘Karuvazhi Kaviyam’ are ample proofs.
The enviably distinguished Vairamuthu will be adored for his passion for Tamil language and literature. His works in films and off films will occupy a special place in Tamil life and psyche forever.