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Nostalgic Tamil Song 101: The Painful Sad Poongatru Thirumbuma by Ilaiyaraaja 1985

Tamil Muthal Mariyathai Bharathiraja Sivaji Ganesan Radha Ilaiyaraaja

The 1985 Tamil movie, Muthal Mariyathai (which means the First Respect) was my late uncle’s favourite movie and he would be watching it at least once a day if he had time to watch the TV.

Well, it became one of my favourite Tamil movies as well. After all, in the hands of the great director, Bharathiraja and the acting prowess of the Nadigar Thilagam, Sivaji Ganesan, Muthal Mariyathai is indeed a great movie. Image source: The Hindu

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An interesting trivia in regards to the soundtrack of this movie:-

The music was composed by Ilaiyaraaja while the lyrics for the songs were written by Vairamuthu. Both did not like the film after viewing its rough cut because they felt it “wasn’t youthful”, but Bharathiraja insisted that Ilaiyaraaja compose the score.

According to Ilaiyaraaja, when Bharathiraja saw the finished cut after composing was complete, he asked Ilaiyaraaja how he was able to deliver such wonderful music even for a film he did not like, and Ilaiyaraaja replied it was because he could not do injustice to his profession. Many of the songs were inspired by Indian folk music.

The song “Antha Nilava Thaan” is set in the Carnatic raga Natabhairavi, and “Poongatru Thirumbuma” is set in Kharaharapriya. The tune of “Antha Nilava Thaan” was later used by Ilaiyaraaja in “Mujhe Bahon Mein Bhar” from the Hindi film Mahaadev (1989).


Frankly speaking, Ilaiyaraaja did a very good job for this movie’s soundtrack and all songs composed were really good even though it was reported that the Maestro disliked the movie. I recall him telling in an interview that although he may not like the movies that he is composing but his job is not to direct movies so he will make sure that he gets his portion done well.

One composition that stood out in this movie, because of the situation in the movie is Poongatru Thirumbuma sung by the late Malaysia Vasudevan and S. Janaki. The original song scene from the movie is a must-watch as the song becomes even more meaningful with the acting of the 2 main characters and the background scenery:-

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There is a remastered version as well which is a clearer copy to appreciate the beauty of the composition:-

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You can really feel the sadness in this song when we first hear the male’s voice rendered by Malaysia Vasudevan. Sivaji’s character had lost hope considering how wicked his legal wife is in treating him and others. He does not get his “first respect” from his own wife and family and yet he can’t leave them as he had made a promise to his late father in law.

Far away from home, he finds some form of peace in singing his sorrows and it seems like this is not the first time, he had washed his worries with this sad song. But then this time, there is a glimmer of hope when he suddenly hears the female’s voice rendered by S. Janaki replying to his question of where he can find peace in his song.

The lyrics by Vairamuthu is indeed moving and touching considering the storyline. It basically tells the story in the movie as well.

The fact is when one watches the movie till the point of this scene in the movie, you are with the character played by Sivaji Ganesan – thorn to pieces, sad, trapped and with no solution at the end tunnel. Then you have this song scene and all of a sudden you feel relieved even though in actual fact, nothing changes when you go back home.

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