Monday, April 25, 2005

License to Trivialize?

Just something I need to get off my chest...

I was listening to songs from Kanaa Kanden during my drive to work today. The first song is Chinna Chinna Sigarangal... , which is currently in some trouble since the censor has objected to its lyrics. The song definitely has a lot of double entendres and its lines are quite naughty but my problem with the song(actually, just one of its lines) is of a different nature. The line in question goes

En Aadaigal Kalaiya Varum Nee Enna Tsunamiyaa?

This line jumped out at me and really irked me. Ever since the tsunami hit our coast in December 2004, the word 'tsunami' has become fodder for our filmmakers. When I was in Chennai in January, I saw posters for a movie being launched with the tagline Ivan Sooriyan Alla, Tsunami. The recently released Mannin Maindhan(scripted by Karunanidhi, no less) has a comedy scene where Vadivelu tries to get a share of the money being distributed to survivors of the tragedy. And a song in Ajith's Ji has the line Naan Ooru, Nee Ennai Adithu Pogum Aaru.

For me, the line in the Kanaa Kanden song was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. It gave me the feeling that the tragedy is being trivialized by its usage in such scenarios. Its one thing to, say, use the word to illustrate the magnitude of a personal tragedy or even a person's affected state of mind. But comparing it to a guy who wants to disrobe his lover and using it in a line that rhymes with Kaamachaami seems outrageous to me. Have the songwriters become completely desensitized to this particular tragedy? Will the word and its irresponsible usage not trigger horrific memories for those affected by the tragedy so recently? Is there any limit to the poetic license songwriters can take on real-life events?

Its been 4 years since the 9/11 happenings in the US. But you still will not find any jokes, skits or songs trivializing the incident. And anything that degrades the memory of the day is greeted with widespread outrage(Bill Maher's comment and subsequent retraction and apology is an example). But the situation is different atleast in Tamilnadu. There seems to be no reaction from either the Tamil press or the public to our songwriters referring to the tsunami in any way they can.

I know the word 'tsunami' by itself refers to a natural disaster and not the tragedy in December. But the fact that Tamil cinema has never used the word before kinda links the word rather closely to the recent tragedy. So what do you think? Does the use of the word 'tsunami' really trivialize a tragedy. Or am I overreacting here?


At 4:10 PM, Blogger Orange Fronkey said...

I know... when I heard that line I was like... "WHAT?"

My friend and I concluded that the lyricists were too drunk to realize the crap they come up with sometimes... =P.

But this reminds me of the "Iraq yutham mudinji pochu angey" song from Thiththikuthey...

I like the song, no doubting that... but I'm always going... "Really? when did that happen???"

Makes you wonder what crap they gonna up with next...

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Munimma said...

One of my pet peeves! There seems to be some rule of inversion happening, if the lyrics are good, the music is not great, and vice versa.
I think Diamond Pearl started this dubious trend. Ovvaikku koon azhagu is extremely jarring.
Then you see little kids dancing to kalyanam thaan kattikittu or sarakku vechirukken (thillana thillana on sun tv) and it makes you wanna throw up.
We need another Kannadasan. Who can forget unnai kaanatha kannum or ezhu swarangalukkul or kodi asainthathum!

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

intriguing observation:

i was talking to one of my co-Tamil-fanatic friends about the brilliant lines flowing from the pen of Kannadasan in "Senthaazham Poovil" and was smiling at how the lines were not just glorious in their use of similies but also 'sexy' in their own way-- "azhagu migundha rajakumari maegamaaga pogiraall...jarigai neliyum selai kondu malaiyai mooda paarkiraall..."

wow! and now we have lines like the ones mentioned in the post...

reg. the tsunami, Director SundarC gave a moving little speech about how in Anbe Sivam (2003) the Kamal character actually mentions the tsunami (in Orissa) and how tragically uncanny it was to see it happen in real life

At 6:48 PM, Blogger Ram C said...

If I am not wrong, Vairamuthu had penned this song.. which is an exception to Vidysagar's movies.

I believe that neither the director Kv.anand nor MD Vidyasagar would hv demanded such a lyric...Then, why does Vairamuthu need to write such a song, when he has many other good songs to his feathers?

At 8:19 PM, Blogger Rajesh said...

The fact that a natural disaster of such a giant magnitude has been trivialized is a tragedy in itself. Doing this in cinema in itself not only decreases its magnitude, but sets itself up to multiply that negative effect. The more people think it's fine, the more will jump on the bandwagon. It is really a social outrage and should be addressed by the censors.

Like you said, Balaji, the American censors would have already been all over it. Indian censors, on the other hand, seem to be overly concerned with vulgarity. I don't even think that movies being a little vulgar are a big problem. There is a bigger sense of ethics that is overlooked in cinema in general.

These ethically miscreant, and partially evil symbols actually work its way into our society slowly. As the movie-going public is out for entertainment and sees good and evil in movies, songs and scenes such as these blur the line between them. The thought that really startles me is that the censors let it happen, and then are still able to sleep at night.

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much lower can they stoop?? It is really sickening. What it does convey is that they are scraping the barrel for inspiration and the loss is for all music buffs.

BTW Ram, nice reviews :) You have dedicated a series to KB(my fave director) but completely left out Manadhil Urudhi Vendum(my fave movie) :(

At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


i did leave out quite a few of his movies from my list mainly coz i wrote it in a hurry...i had the chance to meet him and wanted to have this with me just to show him that i am not a "podiyan!" and that I know something about his movies...

yes, i shouldve included manadhil urudhi vendum and bama vijayam, the latter being one of my all time comedy favs...

At 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

balaji annan, you've absolutely taken the words out of my mouth

At 8:54 AM, Blogger Balaji said...

lots of similar thots here...

munimma, yes the sight of kids dancing to songs with vulgar lyrics (manmadha raasa...) is not a nice sight to see.

ram, another of my fav lines assigning human emotions to nature is 'vaanamagal naanugiraal, veru udai soodugiraal' in the 'ponmaalai pozhudhu' song from 'nizhalgal'

rajesh, nicely written! good idea getting the censors to look at things ethically. but easier said than done. Doesn't look like the audio has any screening process right now. I was against any kind of screening before but lyrics like this r making me rethink my position...

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

an 'ugly' coincidence i must say...i was listening to some songs from "Gemini." Gosh!! the catchy tunes hide the fact that the lyrics are absolutely horribbble...esp. the "naatu katta" song...

reg. the tsunami, these insensitive lines should not obscure the fact that the movie industry as a whole has been quite supportive of this, not just in terms of funds but also in terms of helping people with their emollient words and thoughtful actions...

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i absolutely agree that this is digusting behaviour....i watched a recent film with Sathyraj's son Mannin Maindan and they make a comedy scene about Tsunami victims. Sick...absolutely sick. I can't believe the censors dont take note.

At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lighten up! Indians have the tendency to take everything in their stride - in this case, I do think you're overreacting...they use the word "Puyal" in songs, and for years now Andhra/TN have been devastated by cyclones...I think people are more aware of the word "tsunami" now, so the lyricists make free with it. Poetic license.


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