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Saravanan on 'Sugamo aayiram' Song

'Sugamo aayiram' - Thunai Iruppaal Meenakshi-1977. Sung by PS, Music by IR.

S.P.V Films’ Thunai Iruppaal Meenakshi- 1977 had Sivakumar, Vijayakumar, Thengai Srinivasan, Mouli, Thangavelu, Sujatha, Swarna, Manorama, CK Saraswathi, Vijayachandrika and others in its cast. It was a rehash of Gemini’s Samsaram-1951, albeit with a slightly modified screenplay by Valampuri Somanathan, who also directed the film.

The lyrics (Panju Arunachalam) are as follows:

Sugamo aayiram
uravo kaaviyam
sugamo aayiram

vaazhkai endraal adhil naalumundu
andha vattathilae oru thittamundu
valarndhaalum kuraindhaalum
nilavondru oli veesum
adhai kaanum balam vendum
vilaiyaadum manam vendum

kaalangalil pala kolam undu
andha kolangalil pala pulli undu
dhinandhorum rasithaalum
oru naalum thevittaadhu
adhudhaane samsaram --
adhilthaanae sandhosham

punnagaiyil vandha pennazhagu
oru ponn nagaiyil illai nalluravu
enai neeyum, unai naanum
unarndhaalae adhu podhum
adhuthaane panbaadu--
adhai naalum pann paadu

The story is a meandering tearjerker of a family whose head is separated from his wife and kids by a quirk of fate hastened by the malevolent machinations of his stepmother. The testing travails they undergo over the years, all the while steadfastly up holding honesty and integrity in their daily life, and the contrived climax wherein the family unites in Madurai (the justification for the title!) forms the rest of the (s)tale--

Those were the early years of IR, and he was weaving magic in film after film- he was the King of Phrygia newly fortified with the power granted by Dionysus.

Thunai Iruppaal Meenakshi was no exception--It was IR and his score, which added polish to the plebeian proceedings, and to this day, it is the songs, (and the SOTD in particular) which retrieve the film from total obliteration. This song’s appeal is enhanced tenfold by Gayatri and her veenai. She played the veenai for some of IR’s unforgettable songs in those heady years. In an interview some years back, she recalled this song, and claimed that this was a song that she cherishes in memory.

Besides ‘sugamo aayiram’, the other songs in Thunai Iruppaal Meenakshi were:
Setril oru senkazhani, thingal oru poo malarum - TMS-SJ
Vaarthai illamal oru kavi paadavaa- PS
Harichandran drama - MV & chorus
Ammamma pasikkudhamma, aadharam illayamma - BSS & chorus.

‘Sugamo aayiram’ finds place in the first few reels of the film itself- Sivakumar and Sujatha have two children. They belong to the salaried middle class segment, and each month is an exacting endeavour for dignified existence. However, the immense love and perfect understanding that they share, brings sweetness in midst of this struggle too, and the family is happy, even in its poverty---Sivakumar forgetting the sress he faces at work, when he relishes Sujatha’s ‘vathatha kuzhambu’ served so lovingly, Sujatha offering her mundhanai to him for wiping his hands after the meal, the kids pretending to look the other way when their parents indulge in a bit of morning romance, Sivakumar and the kids going up to the street corner and waving to Sujatha who stands at the doorstep watching them go to office and school---precious moments of daily domestic bliss!

It is then that Sujatha discovers that they are soon to have another addition to the family. When she breaks the news to Sivakumar, he is worried about the financial implications- this added burden to their already hand–to-mouth existence looms threateningly in his mind—She understands his fears, and puts them to rest by her song—she takes the veenai in her hands—and the enchantment starts—music is the food of love and she plays on--

How tenderly she brings peace to his troubled mind! And even while applying a soothing balm to his mental torment, she gives a fetching lecture on how life is to be lived in its fullest sense. Like the moon that waxes and wanes in its inexorable cycle, she reminds him, life too has its ups and down. One has to have the resolve to face the trying tribulations that life, as its wont, keeps springing at every turn. And one should meet these hardships with a hardy smile. When he has her and she has him, and they share so great a love, cemented by perfect understanding, wouldn’t they together overcome all adversities with ease?

Of course, even as the song ends, the stepmother ( CK Saraswathi) arrives , and soon this tranquil nest to torn asunder--

The simple, yet apposite lyrics, the gracious presence of Sujatha, the spellbinding skills of Gayatri on the veenai, the voice of PS-liquid of vowels, kind to consonants, dainty and dulcet in every note - the song is the treasured apotheosis of vintage IR in euphonious flow—

If the pallavi, just consisting of four words, is ethereal in its execution, the almost continuous charanam gathers grandeur in its glide—And if Suseela’s caressing voice is the hearbeat of the song, Gayatri’s nimble fingering on the strings and adept actions on the frets form the diastole and systole of the prelude and the interludes.

This song was very popular in the late 70s. It was among the earliest film songs that I heard as a child, and ‘Sugamo aayiram’, along with ‘Thaenil aadum roja’ (another wonderful IR/PS collaboration) takes me back to ‘Thaen Kinnam’ at 7.45 of the 70s—Nostalgia time--


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