Musing Over a Song and Love
For me, whenever I think of love or romance, music is something that is inextricably linked to the feeling. It’s hard for me to visualise romance, especially as a writer whose favourite theme is love, without music in the background. Not just songs off the movies but any kind of music that inspires my idea of love as I project in my stories. The music I listen to helps me fuse what I already have seen or heard of love around me with what I passionately dream or visualise in my mind’s eye about this universal feeling. So more often than not, when I am writing on love, I end up playing my oft-played romance playlist in the background. Sometimes it is just one track on a never-ending loop and sometimes it’s a list.
When I talk of songs, I need to talk of lyrics too. Lyrical beauty, I feel, is so important for a song to gain that extra sparkle and that’s especially true of a romantic number. I particularly love those songs with lyrics that make you see a new meaning, a new interpretation each time you listen to the song. I must say that in my case, sometimes it’s also the lyrics of a song that has inspired a story idea or a dialogue.
I have fallen in love with these tracks at different phases of my life but many of them have been seasonal. In the sense, the craze over that song would persist for a period lasting anything between a month and a year and it would be the perfect catalyst for my imagination during that phase. And then suddenly, I would realise that the magic isn’t working anymore and that I would need to move away. Perhaps, it is another song that would dethrone the old one. More often than not, I would have grown tired of the tune or the lyrics or both.
But there are a few songs that have stood the test of time and continue to dazzle in new ways every single time I listen to them, even after all these years. I have never grown tired of them and the feeling of love that they radiate continues to warm my heart and leaves me smiling to myself.
I pick one such track and let me confess, this is an experiment of sorts. I am just going to write what flows through my mind as I traverse the lyrics one line after the other while the song plays in the background. The song, ‘Mazhaiyum Neeye’ in Tamil, penned by Vairamuthu, set to tune by Maragadhamani and sung by S.P.Balasubramaniam, is from the film, ‘Azhagan’ (1991), directed by the legendary director, K. Balachander. It’s a beautiful song that has had me spellbound with its dashing simplicity and the exquisite way in which it describes love.
mazhaiyum neeye veyyilum neeye
nilavum neeye neruppum neeye
adadaa unaiththaan ingu
vaazhum maanidar kaadhal enbadhaa
You are the rain, you are sunshine
You are the moon, you are fire
Oh my, are you the one that mankind calls love?
I imagine it is a man talking to his beloved and he finds that she is an eclectic mix of human nature. She is soothing as the rain, radiant (and perhaps scorching) as sunshine, she is gentle as the moon and fiery as the fire. She isn’t idealistic. She isn’t picture perfect. Oh then, isn’t she actually love? Why not, for that’s what love is – smooth and passionate at times and rough and tormenting at others. And if you are truly in love, the real beauty of your relationship lies in accepting one another as you are and not being bound by meaningless expectations.
idhu enna mannil kooda nilavum varumaa
sarasam payilum vizhiyil varume
idhu enna thendral kooda analaaych chudumaa
thanimai ninaivil analaaych chududhey
Does the moon even come down to earth?
It does – in those eyes that are learning the game of love.
Does the breeze ever feel scorching hot?
It does – at the very thought of loneliness.
He is awestruck. “Idhu enna” is such a simple but forceful way of expressing surprise. “Is this even possible? I am actually seeing the moon in her eyes. Her eyes that are learning the game of love.” It reminds me of college romance. College years were probably the only time when I saw romance all around me, what with many of my college mates including some close friends ‘going psenti’ (the slang for being in a relationship). I must say it was thrilling to listen to all of their little stories filled with love including ‘looking into each other’s eyes’. I would like to think now that maybe they saw the moon in each other’s eyes that were learning the game of love! Loneliness then would have become the demon that threatened to swallow them, when they weren’t around with their loved one. The oft-heard poetic thought of even the gentle breeze turning painfully scorching perhaps did sound real then!
paarkkaamal mellap paarththaalae
adhudhaanaa kaadhal kalai
thoaloadu allich chaerththaanae
adhudhaanaa moaga nilai
She steals glances, pretending she isn’t seeing
Is that the art of love?
He gathers her completely in his arms
Is that the state of blissful love?
These lines make me go weak on my knees each time I listen to them. It’s perhaps the most beautiful way to describe the gentle shyness that seeps in when a woman is in love. “paarkkaamal mellap paarththaalae, adhudhaanaa kaadhal kalai” – she pretends she isn’t looking but still steals glances of her beloved. Only someone whose heart is full of love is capable of this gesture, shorn of pretence; an unconscious act done without any ulterior motive. She is desperate to look at him but doesn’t want him to know. But he knows she is looking. How romantic! Isn’t this indeed the art of love? I can feel warm blood rushing up to my head even as I think about it! It brings the vivid imagery from Kamba Ramayanam’s well-known line – “Annalum nokkinan, avalum nokkinal” to mind. And do I even need to talk about the bliss of lying in the arms of your loved one? Plenty of sighs, really!
idhu kaamadhevanin yaaga saalaiyaa
Is this what is called heaven?
Is this the place where the God of Love performs his Yagna?
Oh yes indeed, such love is heaven, whether you are experiencing it for the first time or years into a relationship with someone. The God of Love couldn’t be happier.
kalaiyellaam kattruk kollum paruvam paruvam
kadalin alaipol idhayam alaiyum
karu neelak kangal rendum pavazham pavazham
eriyum viragam adhile theriyum
It is the season of learning varied arts
The heart wanders like the waves of the sea
Her deep blue eyes look like coral
The burning pain of separation evident in them
On the face of it, it appears that a mind wandering like the waves of the sea and eyes shimmering like red coral due to the pain born out of separation are most relevant to youthful love. But these lines show me something more. It makes me think that a couple who have lived together for years will also vouch for the pain separation brings – the listlessness that comes with the death of a partner or his or her being away for a while. The mind then wanders, like waves of the sea, indeed unearthing memories and bringing hushed voices from the past much like the sound of waves.
aegaandham indha aanandham adhan ellai yaararivaar
aedhedho sugam podhaadho indha aekkam yaararivaar
This happiness, that’s hers, who will know its limits?
Won’t other pleasures do, who will know of this longing?
These words have always set me thinking. What exactly is the poet trying to convey here? Interestingly, more than my own analysis, I have relied on the way these lines are picturised in the movie to understand the lyricist’s intent. She receives a car as a gift from him (he isn’t around when the car arrives, he sends it through someone). She is thrilled and walks around the car eagerly.
My interpretation of these two lines goes thus: No one can gauge the limits of her happiness. Yet, seeing the way she is looking about the car, you are left questioning – won’t these pleasures do? What’s she still looking for? And then you realise she is looking for that message from him – and she finds a note that reads, “Ennai pudhupitha pudhiyavalukku”, which roughly translates to ‘to the woman who has given a new meaning to me (and my life)’ – and upon reading that note, she longs to be with him. And that’s when the words, “indha aekkam yaararivar” come in – ‘who will know of this longing?’ The longing, it appears, is what lingers, when you are in love, no matter what other pleasures you get to enjoy. And all of a sudden, demystifying love starts looking quite challenging to me!
And soon, the song heads to an end. All too quickly, just like the fleeting nature of our lives.
mudhalaay mudivaay ingu enrum vaazhvadhu kaadhal onrudhaan
It’s the beginning, it’s the end
It’s only love that remains thus forever.
It is love all the way from the beginning of life to its end, the words say. Love is where everything begins and love is where it all ends. And it shall remain so forever. True that, I tell myself. What’s life without love? This is the question I have asked myself over and over and the song pushes me into that mode one more time.
And not surprisingly, I crave to listen to the song, all over again. To see love again in a new light.