Nostalgic Tamil Song 101: Sivaji’s Tearful & Moving Engey Nimmathi by MS Viswanathan 1964

Puthiya Paravai Engey Nimmathi Tamil Sivaji MSV Viswanathan

Puthiya Paravai (meaning New Bird) was a 1964 Tamil movie that was produced and acted by the Nadigar Thilagam, Sivaji Ganesan. It was his maiden movie that he produced under his own production company, Sivaji Productions. Image source: Smule

It is reported that Puthiya Paravai is a remake of an earlier Bengali film which is itself inspired by the British film Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958).

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The movie plot is an interesting one with Sivaji Ganesan (as the main character, Gopal) probably doing his best performances as a man who is trying hard to run away from a criminal past but caught up due to a drama played by the police including the one that he loved.

He pours all kinds of expressions in this below climax scene with excellent camerawork and background music. This small piece of performance is just a tip of his acting prowess.

Maestro M.S. Viswanathan with his partner Ramamoorthy handled the composition of the songs and background score for this movie with the lyrics handled by the great poet Kannadasan.

All of the songs in this movie is a big hit from Paartha Gnaabagam Illaiyo where Gopal (Sivaji Ganesan) first meets his first wife, Unnai Ondru Ketpen that Latha sings in the ship where she meets Gopal (the lyrics in this song already gave away a clue that she is a policewoman) to this Engey Nimmadhi (meaning where is the peace) which Gopal sings when it seems like he had lost all his hopes of getting the evidence to prove an imposter acting as his real wife.

It is reported:-

The heavily orchestrated “Engey Nimmadhi”, at that time, had the highest number of instruments used for recording. Choir singers from the Purasawalkam and Vepery areas of Madras (now Chennai) were used in the song.

According to film historian Mohan Raman, “Kannadasan could not get the right words nor was there a tune ready and Sivaji came to the composing and did a pantomime of what he would like to do and thus was born the line and the song”.

Cellist R. Selvaraj, whose father was a part of the orchestration for “Engey Nimmadhi” said 250 instrumentalists were used for playing different instruments in sync. Other sources state that Viswanathan used over 300 instruments for the song.

Instruments used included the harp, violins, cello, bass, vibraphone, bongos, kettle, drums, flutes, castanets, trumpets, tuba, trombone, clarinet and mandolin. Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy tried over 100 different ways of composing the tune of “Engey Nimmadhi” before the song was recorded. It is set in Bilaskhani Todi, a Hindustani raga.

(Source)

The lyrics themselves are well written with phrases that only the great poet, Kannadasan can think of.

“I want a place where there is peace”

“I want a place where there are no humans”

“When my hands reached out for mercy, even the veena is crying”

“When my hands fall in despair, even the flowers wither away”

“If you let me sleep for a moment, I would be very grateful, Mother”

Simple and yet nails the situation that Gopal is in. The line when my hands reached out for mercy, even the veena is crying is my favourite line of all and I loved the way T. M. Soundararajan sings this part.

This is a new rendition by various artists during the COVID19 quarantine (starting at 5.57 minutes)

The rhythm and the lyrics of the song are top-notch indeed but it was dwarfed by Sivaji’s acting, the special effects and the picturization of the song which set a trend compared to another movie from the same era.

The ghostly beginning sets the right mood of his dead first wife coming back to haunt Gopal – Gopal is sleepless, tired and on the verge of going crazy. There are interludes of the images of his dead wife as Gopal asks where he can get peace to his troubled situation.

The movie and this particular song is classic and is a must-have in one’s collection.

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