“Vakkanai Pechinil Gettikaaru” – Pattinathar (1962) – Tamil Feature Film

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“Vakkanai Pechchinil Gettikaaru” – “Pattinathar” (1962), Voice: P Susheela & Madras Rajagopala Radhakrishnan Naidu (M R Radha – Dialogue & Narrative Portions), Composer: Gopalsamy Ramanatha Iyer (G Ramanathan)


A Rare Unheard “Coquette” Soundbite from the movie by P Susheela & Madras Rajagopala Radhakrishnan Naidu (M R Radha – Dialogue & Narrative Portions)


Saint Pattinathar was a Saivaite and a Spiritual leader. When he was five years old, he lost his father. Like his father he spent money on Siva devotees, and fed them daily. He was a trader and had enough wealth. At sixteen years, he was married to Sivakalai, daughter of another trader by the name of Siva Sithamparam Chettiyar and his wife Sivakamy. Even after fifteen years of marriage they had no children. Meantime there was a very poor Saivaite by the name of Sivasarumar who spent all his wealth in feeding the Siva devotees. When all his wealth was spent he sold his wife’s nuptial chain (thali) and fed the devotees of Lord Siva. Once in his dream, Lord Siva appeared and told him, he would find him (Siva) as a baby at a certain spot. “Hand over the baby boy to Thiruvenkadar. He would give gold equal to the weight of the baby. The Saivaite devotees found the baby and took him to Pattinathar. He adopted the child and gave the couple, gold and more wealth.


The divine child grew up and followed in his father’s footsteps. Once the father sent him on a ship with a good lot of merchandise and when he came he brought back sacks full of paddy husks. The father was angry and locked him up in a room and going to the harbor, threw the husks out. What was his surprise to see they were all gold; Every dried piece of the husk turned out to be gold and precious gems. He hurried home to see his son. He was not in the room. His wife gave him a small box the son had given before he disappeared. In it was an Palm-leaf manuscript and a needle without an eyelet. On the script were the following words (in English for understanding): “Not even an eyeless needle will accompany you in the final journey of life.”


Pattinathar(Thiruvenkadar) realized the philosophy and wisdom of the words, and renounced everything – his wife, his wealth, his kith and kin and all other mundane attachments. With only a loin cloth he left. He sang many a philosophical song to enlighten people on the blissful state of renunciation. He sang about the human life and its complex dimensions, made his lyrics more appealing to the common man. He urged repeatedly not to be attached to the body and its pleasures, for the body which perishes and becomes food for animals and worms. Think of God and surrender at God’s feet. Pattinathar worshiped Shiva at the Srikalahasti temple, which has inspired great poetic and musical works.


Produced by J R Productions, Gopalsamy Ramanatha Iyer (G Ramanathan) composed the film score with T M Soundararajan & Gemini K Chandra, M R Radha, C K Saraswathi playing the lead roles. Akilan & Thanjai N Ramiahdoss wrote the dialogues & screenplay and the film was directed by K Somu. The lyricists were T K Sundara Vathiyar (Kathiruppan Kamala Kannan from Uthamaputhiran), T N Ramiahdoss, Maruthakasi, Ku Ma Balasubramaniam (Amudhai Pozhiyum Nilave from Thangamalai Rahasyam) and Pattinathar. The playback included some well known names P Leela, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, Tiruchi Loganathan, T M Soundararajan & P Susheela


It was the only number (2:46 to be precise) for P Susheela in the movie, nevertheless, it could be rated as her “pocket-size dynamo”. The orchestration had a Carnatic hue to it with Ramanatha Iyer’s trademark percussion & string arrangements relevant to the spiritual storyline.


வக்கனை பேச்சினில் கெட்டிக்காரு
வாழ்வை மலர வைத்த வட்டிக்காறு
எதிலும் வக்கனை பேச்சினில் கெட்டிக்காரு
எந்தன் வாழ்வை மலர வைத்த வட்டிக்காறு
வந்து மசிய வைத்து ஆசை மந்திரத்தை உச்சரித்து
மயக்கிடும் ஜவ்வாது பொட்டுக்காரு
vakkanai pechchinil gettikaaru
vaazhvai malara vaiththa vaddikkaaru
edhilum vakkanai pechchinil gettikaaru
endhan vaazhvai malara vaiththa vaddikkaaru
vandhu masiya vaiththu aasai mandhiraththai uchcharithu
mayakkidum javvadhu pottukkaru

In the song sequence (first lyrical narrative) the vivacious young lady (seductress) flirts light-heartedly with M R Radha to win his admiration & affection. Susheela captures this imagery & makes it into a cozy carnatic ragamalika (compare it to the modern day item bar songs) of sorts with her usual vocal acrobats and gravitas. With her powerful voice she never overreached or strayed other than to enchant us with an elegant mystery. Punctuating (an art to to be learnt from our soprano) these forgotten classics, our diva knocks the socks of M R Radha” in “வந்து மசிய வைத்து ஆசை மந்திரத்தை உச்சரித்து மயக்கிடும் ஜவ்வாது பொட்டுக்காரு – vandhu masiya vaiththu aasai mandhiraththai uchcharithu mayakkidum javvadhu pottukkaru”. She hits out a knock-out punch with “vandhu masiya vaithu” in repetitive while circumnavigating “vakkanai pechchinil” again.


Belting a number for a heroine or a seductress one cannot miss to observe that she maintains a majestic distance – from a melody-pathos-classical transitions – sprucely combining all her identities for on-screen characters.


சாரீர வளமையில் ஹா ஹா
(அது சரி இந்த மாதிரி ஒரு பயலுக்கும் கிடையாது – M R Radha)
சரீர இளமையில் ஹா ஹா
(வைரம் பாஞ்ச கட்டை – M R Radha)
சங்கீத இனிமையில் ஹா ஹா
சங்கீத இனிமையில் உமக்கு நிகர் யாரு
(எனக்கு நிகர் நான் தான் – M R Radha)
நல்ல தத்துவ கலைகளிலே வித்துவம் அடைந்தவரும்
தனி சரி வாணர் என்று புகழ்வாறு
saareera valamayil ha ha
(adhu sari indha madhiri oru payallukkum kidayadhu – M R Rada)
sareera ilamayil ha ha
(vairam paanja kattai – M R Radha)
sangeetha inimayil ha ha
sangeetha inimayil umakku nigar yaaru
(enakku nigar naan thaan – M R Radha)
nalla thaththuva kalaigalile viththuvam adaindhavarum
thani sari vaanar endru pugazhvaaru

A megalomaniac moneylender that M R Radha’s is (character in the film ), the second lyrical narrative coming from well trained Gana Saraswathi’s classical voice that can and often did stand on its own and with no procreative pandering – eg “சாரீர வளமையில்”, “சரீர இளமையில்”, “சங்கீத இனிமையில்” – enveloping him in his egocentricity as he mouths “adhu sari indha madhiri oru payallukkum kidayadhu, vairam paanja kattai, enakku nigar naan thaan” – vividly portrays the swellheadedness. After those tonnes of dizzying lyrical words – her vocal pyrotechnics is still evident in “நல்ல தத்துவ கலைகளிலே வித்துவம் அடைந்தவரும் தனி சரி வாணர் என்று புகழ்வாறு – nalla thaththuva kalaigalile viththuvam adaindhavarum thani sari vaanar endru pugazhvaaru”. She remains one of the best there is when it comes to those “racy bhrigas”. Ramanatha Iyer wove dense harmonic patterns knowing the magnitude of Susheela’s vocal range – truly a “Isai Medhai” (legend).


வக்கனை பேச்சினில் கெட்டிக்காரு
வாழ்வை மலர வைத்த வட்டிக்காறு
எந்தன் வாழ்வை மலர வைத்த வட்டிக்காறு
vakkanai pechchinil gettikaaru
vaazhvai malara vaiththa vaddikkaaru
endhan vaazhvai malara vaiththa vaddikkaaru
எத்தனை மயில்கள் வந்து ஆடினாலும்..சுவாமி
எத்தனை மயில்கள் வந்து ஆடினாலும்
அமைதி எண்ணம் கொண்டு இந்த குயில் பாடினாலும்
அத்தனைக்கும் என் போலே அன்னம் வருமா
மயக்கும் அத்தனைக்கும் என் போலே அன்னம் வருமா
வயசும் அத்தனைக்கும் என் போலே அன்னம் வருமா
உங்கள் அன்பை கவரும் வகை வண்ணம்
eththanai mayilgal vandhu aadinaalum..swami
eththanai mayilgal vandhu aadinaalum
amaidhi ennam kondu indha kuyil paadinaalum
mayakkum aththanaikkum en pole annam varuma
vayasum aththanaikkum en pole annam varuma
ungalanbai kavarum vagai vannam

There is more vocal beauty in the third lyrical narrative – a piano infused “எத்தனை மயில்கள் வந்து ஆடினாலும்..சுவாமி – eththanai mayilgal vandhu aadinaalum..swami” (with a pause). Her distinctive voice has a sense of vulnerability and purity.  Susheela’s vocal intonations bring out a richness in the words that draw out their meaning like when her voice plumes pleasantly as she sings “அமைதி எண்ணம் கொண்டு இந்த குயில் பாடினாலும்-amaidhi ennam kondu indha kuyil paadinaalum”. The folksy “aththanikkum en pole annam varuma vayasum aththanaikkum en pole annam varuma – mayakkum aththanaikkum en pole annam varuma vayasum aththanaikkum en pole annam varuma” cause her to reach into the mid register of her vocals making it feel heavy, while the silky and sensuous touch of the throbbing “vayasum aththanaikkum” bring out the seductress in her voice which again showcases the refined nuances of her vocal intonations. There’s some very competent musicianship quietly on display here.


வக்கனை பேச்சினில் கெட்டிக்காரு
வாழ்வை மலர வைத்த வட்டிக்காறு
எந்தன் வாழ்வை மலர வைத்த வட்டிக்காறு
vakkanai pechchinil gettikaaru
vaazhvai malara vaiththa vaddikkaaru
endhan vaazhvai malara vaiththa vaddikkaaru

This track has an trapezic vibe to the lyrical storyline. Her ability to easily translate from one transition to the next within this composition is a true testament to her abilities and musicality as a legendary vocalist and performer. The song feels a little less adventurous than her previous outings with Ramanatha Iyer, but is still a fine performance from a fine singer. Should I say vocalese rarely gets better than this?


Leave it on “Repeat” play…and experience it. You wont be disappointed…..


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