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Nostalgic Tamil Song 101: When Great Poets Gets Cheated Song by MSV 1978

Nizhal Nijamagiradhu Balachander Kamban Emanthan Poet

Nizhal Nijamagiradhu is a 1978 Tamil movie directed by K Balachander starred by Kamal Haasan as the main character with the background score and songs composed by maestro MS Visvanathan. The movie only has 2 songs and both are classic with lyrics written by the poet Kannadasan. Image source: IMDB

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The Plot

Nizhal Nijamagiradhu is a remake of the Malayalam 1969 movie, Adimagal. It is a simple story about a brother played by Sarath Babu, his orthodox sister played by Sumithra who do not want to get married, their innocent maid played by Sobha who fantasises about a prince charming sweeping off her feet and finally the brother’s friend played by Kamal Haasan who is immediately get attracted to Sumithra.

Sarath Babu gets attracted to Shoba and they get close and causes Shoba to get pregnant. Kamal gets to know about it and tries to get his friend to marry Shoba but he refuses to acknowledge his relationship with Shoba.

Eventually, Kamal gets Hanumanthu who plays a servant who is also attracted to Shoba to take care of Shoba and her baby. Sumithra who initially thought that Kamal was responsible for Shoba getting pregnant eventually finds out the truth about her brother and gets soften to Kamal’s love.

This song titled Kamban Emanthan means The Poet Kamban Got Cheated appears when Kamal who is staying across to Sumithra’s house decides to tease her with reference that poets who worshipped the virtues of womanhood can get cheated.

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This is the original rendition of the song from the movie with Kamal singing from the rooftop and deciding to make fun of his friend’s sister who obviously understands that the song is addressed to her and this makes her be even more hateful of Kamal.

The Composition

Maestro MSV still had some of his best work and the decade turns into the 1980s and he did not let down in the composition of the 2 songs for this movie. The prelude before the chorus is brilliantly arranged before the vocals start – sometimes with an orchestra of violins, sometimes with a modern electric guitar.

The use of the tabla in the background together with the flute, violin and the electric guitar that simply syncs with the classical sitar presents a pleasant tune. Then there is a drop of the piano keys in between the vocals that simply stresses the point made in the vocals.

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This is a fantastic musical session where SP Bala sings and talks about some of the songs that he had sung for many great music directors which includes the Kamban Emanthan composed by MSV. The greatness of MSV is that he asked SP Bala to add his own style to the song when he sings the same song in concerts.

The Lyrics

The scene is funny considering the lyrics and the situation in relation to Sumithra. The song is sung by the SP Bala and pay close attention to the lyrics, brilliantly penned by Kannadasan. Only the great poet, like Kannadasan, can think of a poet, Kamban who had praised womanhood gets cheated thinking that all women are like a lovely flower as the starting line of a song. It is obvious that the poet was misled by the nature of a woman.

The poet then continues to ask why women are referred to as an arrow and whether because they are striking to look at and why women are labelled as sweet milk and whether because they are boiling hot.

The poet then turns his attention to a lamp where if one reads the Thirukkural (an ancient collection of Tamil language verses) under the lamp’s light, wouldn’t the lamp be proud to be part of the blessing and if the lamplight sees a heart gets burned, wouldn’t the lamp be pitied as it now blamed for it?

The poet then thinks of the other great poets in history namely Valluvar (referring to Thiruvalluvar who created the Thirukkural), Ilango (referring to Ilango Adigal who wrote one of the famous epics in Tamil) and Bharathi (referring to Subramania Bharathi who is attributed to modernising Tamil literature) who had composed great poetry but got cheated by women. So it is not a big surprise that even he, an ordinary poet like himself be cheated by women.

The poet then reminds the women that they can be angry and hasty but this should be confined to the boundaries of the kitchen and not elsewhere (implying that they don’t won’t look beautiful if they are angry all the time). And when a determined hero comes into their life (referring to himself), it is best to keep their anger and haste in check and give the hero a chance and accept him.

Final Say

There are many great songs that had come out from the K Balachander-MSV collaboration namely with Kamal Haasan playing the main role in the movie. One thing about K Balachander’s movies is that it always about breaking the social barriers and touching issues that are considered taboo in South India.

Add the beautiful and very meaningful lyrics from the great poet, Kannadasan and you will have songs that will live through decades and will be relevant in this modern age.

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