Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Great Lyrics, Bad Grammar?

Nithya's latest post got me thinking back to similar situations I've been in when it's raining. But the fodder for this particular post comes from the couple of lines in the post from the classic Ilaya Nilaa... number from Payanangal Mudivathillai. The lines go

Mugilinangal Alaigirathey Mugavarigal Tholainthanavo
Mugavarigal Thavariyathaal Azhuthidumo Athu Mazhaiyo

The lines are trademark Vairamuthu as he talks about clouds searching for addresses and then crying because they have lost them, leading to rain! Brilliant imagination and wonderfully put into words.

I'm no Tamil scholar but the first line here has irked me for a long time. Since Mugilinangal is plural, shouldn't it be Alaiginrana and not Alaigirathu? It doesn't appear to be a choice based on convenience either since Alaiginrana seems to fit just as well into the tune of the line. So is it bad grammar or am I missing something? Anyone who can provide the answer will have answered a persistent question that has been lodged in a tiny corner of my brain for a couple of decades now!

13 Comments:

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous GP said...

Balaji, you are not the only one worried about this one.. but, my consolation was something to do with "maathirai" stuff..

Alaigindrana has 'a' - one maathirai.. whereas 'o' and 'aal' have two maathirai.. they had to be matched.. also, "alaigirathae" is more curiosity-observation blended than just "alaigindrana" which is just an observation.

In the same song, later comes
Neelavaanile Velli Odaigal
Odugindrathae enna jaadaigal

Again, "odaigal" is plural and "odugindrathae" is singular.. Gotta forgive Vairamuthu for having taken that liberty.

 
At 12:53 PM, Anonymous dai_mond said...

This topic has been "researched" by Mr Ramesh Mahadevan in his seminal article "An algorithmic approach to modern tamil verse"

http://openscroll.org/ramesh/ramesh4.html

 
At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Prakash said...

1) I didn't even know what 'mugilinangal' meant :) Thanks for clearing that up, B.

While on the topic, I was born and brought up in Chennai. So my Tamil is quite decent (no wisecracks about Chennai Tamil please). But my mother tongue is Kannada/Tulu, and 2nd lang in school was Hindi. So I do have trouble with some lyrics.

At times, I wish my Tamil was better. Nothing like understanding what you are saying as you are singing along.

But at times, I wish I didn't even know as much Tamil as I do now. Many times, a bad lyric ruins a good, melodious song. I think 'En Vaanile' from 'Johnny' has some pethal lyrics. So the first few times, I liked the songs. As the lyrics started sinking in, I was wondering what the heck she was blathering on about.

Maybe my Tamil isn't good enough to understand, but it did sound meaningless.

2) And as you pointed out in one of your earlier posts, one of my major peeves is an English word in an otherwise melodious Tamil song. 'Oxygen' in some song in Jeans ('Anbe Anbe'?), 'Armstrong' in some other song (Rakshagan?)... Very jarring.

3) I also understand Vairamuthu's problem with ARR. e.g. 'Konjum Mainakale' actually has ok lyrics. Except Sadhana Sargam mutilates the words so badly, I didn't understand what she was saying the first 10-15 times I heard the song.

OK, I have rambled enough ...

 
At 1:10 PM, Anonymous ram said...

interesting observation on the grammar or lack there of, in the song from "payanangall mudivathillai."

while we're on this topic, i think vairamuthu is awesome when it comes to describing nature...but i think kannadasan and vaali, in that order, are even better when writing about relationships...
the songs from Paasa Malar, Gowravam, Pudhu Pudhu Arthangall and Marubadiyum (albums I've come to cherish in the recent past) have really made me rate these two greats above Vairamuthu...

reg. the Konjum Mainaakaley song, i swear to God, the first time i listened to it, i thot these were the lyrics:

ada indrey varu vendum en deva vazhi pandigai...

then my friend helped me...and clarified that it was "deepavali" and not "deva vazhi!" think abt it the next time u listen to it!

 
At 2:01 PM, Anonymous GP said...

Ram, Kannadasan was undisputed king in describing human relations.. Vaali too has done good in PPA and marupadiyum.. But, I think Vairamuthu is marginally better than him.. My examples:

1) Kadhal Rojave.. from Roja

2) Nenje Nenje.. from Ratchagan (sadhna but no damage done)

3) Enge enadhu.. from Kandukondenn kandukondenn

4) Vennilave.. from Minsarakanavu

5) Ennavale.. from Kadhalan

6) Manam Virumbudhey.., Aval varuvaala.. and Engenge.. from Nerukku Nerr

7) Konja naal.. and Meenamma.. from Aasai.

coincidentally, me too have been thinking about PPA songs (Kalyana maalai and kaladi kanmani) for the past week or so.. Awesome songs..

For songs on relationships, watch out for Na.Muthukumar too.. he is impressive at that..

The deepavazhi confusion was due to Sadhna, right? She is one of those who does those "anandha kolaigal" to Tamil.. She and Udit Narayan kill but pleasantly... :-)

 
At 2:06 PM, Anonymous GP said...

Balaji, to ur question "is it bad grammer?", my answer would be Yes and No. Have you listened to Vairamuthu's interviews? No matter what slang language the interviewer puts up the question, he answers them in 100% pure Agmark Tamil. He is really good in Tamil. So, in this case and some others, he has intentionally mismatched the nouns..

 
At 9:23 PM, Anonymous balaji said...

balaji,

that's what they call poetic license. you can forgive a few rules for the rhyme

 
At 10:43 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

gp, very nicely explained. thanx!

prakash, its ironic that vairamuthu complained about ilaiyaraja's music covering up his lyrics but is OK with ARR and his singers mutilating them!

i too would rate vairamuthu over vaali. some of my favorite lyrics occur in ponmalai pozhuthu... from 'nizhalgal' and senthaazhampoovil... from 'mullum malarum'

gp, so i guess it is bad grammar but intentionally done. oh well, as balaji puts it very nicely, we can forgive a few rules for the rhyme :)

 
At 12:03 AM, Blogger Nithya Swaminathan said...

Balaji,
I think Vairamuthu deliberately wanted a "nedil" ending word, cmopared to a "kuril"... this was prolly coz nedil sounds more smoother... konjam izhuthu paadina it soothes! i think thats what gp also says, about mathirai... if mathirai means syllabel!!! Gosh! what on earth happened to all my tamil!!:(

I too would rate Vairamuthu above Vaali, esp when it comes to songs about Nature... My favs are ILaiyanila, Ponmaalai pozhudhu, etc... But Balaji, the classic "senthaazham poovil" was by Kavignar himself, not Vairamuthu... "Valainthu nelindhu oodum paadhai, mangai moha koondhalo"... enna azhagana karpanai... thats by far my all time fav nature song... beautifully shot by Mahendran! Kavignar had this thing about women's koondhal... even in "adhisaya ragam", he says "pinniya koondhal, karu nira naagam"... wah wah!!! Men may come and men may go, but there cannot be another Kannadasan...

Vaali is good too, as someone else pointed, in talking about relationships... I like songs like Kalyana malai etc... so cannot rate Vairamhuthu absolutely above him... coz again, both of them churn our a sizeable portion of crap too!! I'd rather go in for a classification as Kavignar and the rest...

 
At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Vijay said...

"prakash, its ironic that vairamuthu complained about ilaiyaraja's music covering up his lyrics but is OK with ARR and his singers mutilating them!"

when did Vairamuthu complain about IR's music covering up his lyrics?

He DID complain about Rahman's music covering up his lyrics, in the Kandukonden kandukonden audio release function. It was also telecasted on sat TV and hence became a big issue. Rahman warded it off with a smile but later didnt work with VM for several months and they both patched up later on. With IR, VM has never really explained what led to their split up. He has just said that they had a difference of opinion. But with the current standards of VM's lyrics, we all should be glad that his lyrics are getting drowned by the music :-)

As for "mugilinangaL alaigiradhey" it has been observed by several people and discussed several times before on the net. I guess there might be quite a few examples like this apart from this one.

 
At 7:46 AM, Anonymous GP said...

Vijay, you might want to check out on my recent post on VM-IR split-up. After Punnagai Mannan, Vairamuthu did express his concern on the entry of computer-synthesized music entering into Tamil cinema.. That was the last movie they worked together..

Whenever VM does so with Rahman, you can be guaranteed that for the next few movies, VM would be off from Rahman's projects..

In continuation of the original post, other songs where I found singular-plural mix-up:

1) Ovvoru Parkalilum .. (Ale ale - Boys). Should be ovvoru pallilum

2) Bhoolokam ellaame.. (Vennilave -Minsarakanavu)..

3) Aimpulanum pennilirukku.. (Avall varuvaala - Nerukku Nerr)

4) Idhu maadhangal naatkal sella niram maaridum pookkal alla.. (Meenamma.. - Aasai) Idhu and pookkal are compared

5) pookkal vizhave vidamaattenn.. adhai veyilil (Telephone - Indian). Pookkal and adhai dont go together.

 
At 7:55 AM, Anonymous GP said...

Nithya, Kuril and nedil... these were the ones I was searching for in my grey cells.. and ended with maathirai... Somehow the word "idakkalaradakkal" keeps coming to my mind? I forgot what it is.. may be it has something to do with the poetic license, thats why it is happening to me? Someone help plz...

 
At 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pls look at this http://openscroll.org/ramesh/ramesh4.html

ur post is almost a repeat, got me thinking if it were a plant :)

 

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