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Exclusive Interview with Vairamuthu – Part III: Working with Illayaraja, Golden age for lyricists, Vairamuthu as MLC ?

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Welcome all !. Here comes the final part of our exclusive interview with Vairamuthu (Part-I, Part-II). In this part, Vairamuthu shared his views about the Golden age for Tamil Lyricists, Possibility of working with Illayaraja again, About his son Madhan Karky and Chances of him as MLC (மேலவை உறுப்பினர்) etc. Here is the video and transcript below that.

[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odpH6YH1JdE /]

80s is the golden age for Ilayaraja’s music. The 90s belonged to both AR Rahman and Ilayaraja. This decade has seen more of AR Rahma’s style of music. As a poet, how do you see the last three decades? Which decade do you think is the golden age for poets (lyricists)?

This is not the golden age for lyricists. Not these three (decades). 60s was the golden age of poets. In the 60s, songs carried meaning, language was given priority, and music backed the lyrics, films with historical plots were made, epics were made, puranas were made, socially relevant films were made, the problems of joint families became meanings of songs, so poets were able to act on different platforms and thoughts.

Language was given priority. Language was the Groom and music was only a Groomsman. That was a time when none of the poets lost the race. Even when Kaviarasu Kannadhasan was at peak, about ten to fifteen poets beside him were recognizable. The reason was that the verses written by them reached the masses, they were sung, and they were discussed on stage and they were used in conversations.

After this golden period, the arrival of Michael Jackson, invention of new musical instruments in the west, the efforts of the music directors to try them out in Tamil Music, all these factors reduced the emphasis laid on Language and more of emphasis was given to music. I would not call this a deliberate conspiracy. They were changes that happen with time or were mere accidents. So, the 60s were the golden age of Tamil poets. The 80s, 90s and the 2000s were the golden age of Musicians. I am forced to say that. I am not going to change my opinions on this.

Even during such a period of time, instead of going about using words that have no meaning, you have been interjecting scientific facts in your poems. For instance, “Sevvaayil Jeeva Raasi unda endru un jeeva raasi thaedi kollum. Un Sevvaayil…” (Humans search for life on Mars but in your reddish smacker…..)

That is a poem. Not a song.

How did it all begin? Was there a time you found it difficult to use science……

This is a good question you have asked because Tamil Cinema was not able to set itself free from words like thendralae (Oh my breeze), thaerae (Oh my Chariot), devadhaiyae (Oh my Angel), malarae (Oh my blossom), maalaiyae (Oh my Garland), nilavae (Oh my Moon), maanae (Oh my Darling), thaenae (Oh my Honey). I had grown some distaste for these words when I heard these songs. Repeatedly hearing these words made me detest these words. When I thought that I should bail Tamil cinema and Tamil songs out of this situation, I understood that the next generation was going to belong to Science. I am not a scientist. I know very less about science. I am zero in Maths. My knowledge on several issues is far lesser but I felt a strong desire to bring about the change (in Tamil songs). When I started doing that, I learned that the future was going to unfold and orient towards Science and Computers.

So I got trained through books related to science with new found interests in scientific facts. I was careful that poetry should not sound like prose if scientific facts are embodied into songs. Science will be recognized and noticed, when the verse that follows carries emotions in it. ‘Idhayam thudippathu ninralum irandoru nimidam uyir irukkum’ (even if the heart stops pumping blood, one is alive for a second or so) If that is said, nobody would listen. ‘Anbae ennai nee neenginaal marukanam en uyir thaangaadhu’ (If you go away from me, my life won’t last even a second) gives more meaning to the previous verse.

So, the next verse becomes the pillar of the previous verse. So, it was like that. My objective is not only to make it sound different but I also would love songs to emote along with providing knowledge. I learned a lot of things through writing lyrics for films.‘Kaalaiyil malarum thaamarai poo, andhi karukkalil malarum malligai poo, iravil malarum alli poo, naan endrum manakkum mullai poo’ there are songs like this. Even the time during a day in which flowers bloom is taught by songs. I think songs are the vehicles through which scientific facts are carried to the uneducated people. I have been doing this for some time. Not all the songs accommodate them and not all directors accept them.

In your opinion, which of today’s lyricists writes such interesting lyrics?

All of them.

Anyone specifically?

All of them.

Okay, generally writing lyrics for AR Rahman’s tunes is highly difficult. You have been the best in writing lyrics for AR Rahman. In your opinion, which lyricist writes good lyrics for Rahman as you do?

Even I can’t say that I have written the best of lyrics for Rahman. We can go to my next opinions, once after I write the best lyrics for him.

Everyone has asked you this question… If you get an opportunity to pen lyrics again for Ilayaraja, would you accept that opportunity again?

You should ask him (Ilayaraja) (Smiles).

Apart from films, what other endeavors have you undertaken?

I am compiling my film songs. I have written about 7500 songs. Out of them, I have compiled about a 1000 songs. I have been doing this work for the past one year very intensely. Selecting the songs have been the most arduous of tasks. Besides that, it is necessary for every song to have a preface. The songs are understood when the doors open wide with the help of the preface. So, I have been into this work quite intensely. Within this year or next year…. Or (surely) within this year, those 1000 film songs will be released. These 1000 songs are chronicles and proofs of all the changes that took place in Tamil culture, politics, values, family relationships, individual sorrows, nature, artificial and economic changes.

I am doing the proof reading and the designing. I am contemplating if there might be any information that might be missing in these 1000 songs. These songs have covered such amount of information. For all these information, I must thank all the script writers. They have thought so much. I must thank directors who have directed so much. I must thank music directors who have created so much music. The efforts of these good script writers, directors, music directors and producers have given me the opportunity to compile the history of Tamil society in a single book. I thank all of them.

Your son Madhan Kaarkki has already become a busy lyricist within a short period of time. He has written songs for Endhiran. He is now writing songs for Prabhu Deva and K V Anand. Do you talk about songs with him? As a poet yourself, what generally is your opinion on his song verses?

I consider that Madhan Kaarki has a platform which I did not have. I do not know science. I have not obtained knowledge of computers. I do not have knowledge of the contemporary world. Since Madhan Kaarkki has all the strengths that I do not have, I have the belief that the chances are more for him to do better than me.

One last question, are we going to meet Vairamuthu next time as an MLC?

(Scrunches and laughs) I do not know that myself.

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