“Udhaya Kaalame Nanaindha” – Panchami (1981) – Tamil Feature Film

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Faded Into Oblivion Series by Vicky Iyengar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

“He rises and begins to round, He drops the silver chain of sound, Of many links without a break, In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake. For singing till his heaven fills, ‘Tis love of earth that he instils, And ever winging up and up, Our valley is his golden cup And he the wine which overflows to lift us with him as he goes. Till lost on his aerial rings In light, and then the fancy sings…”The Lark Ascending, George Meredith

A mesmeric ethereal female voice (P Susheela) soaring high over a bounteous cinematic film orchestra, exuberant and just a little hopeful is why this soundtrack score still feels so neoteric, impactful and consequential even today.

An incredible soundtrack from the motion picture “Panchami” (1981), it  never gets better than this – even though the movie never saw the cockcrow.  Directed by T Selvakumar (Production Banner: Omega Movies) starring Rajalakshmi, Mohan & Chandrashekar in the lead roles with cinematography by ace lens-man Balu Mahendra, the unforgettable original musical score by composer Ilayaraaja  experimenting with an unlikely synthesis of orchestral arrangements (prelude & melodramatic interludes) was exhilarating and striking replete with classic Vaughn Williamsque undertones. The momentum – gleaming highs and deep bass notes in this score are sure to haul the audience in.

Lyrics: Poet Vairamuthu
உதய காலமே நனைந்த மேகமே
மொழியின் கதவு திறந்தது
விழியில் விடியல் புலர்ந்தது
அமுதம் பொழிந்து விளைந்த தமிழில் புலமை பிறந்தது
செம்பருத்தித்தோட்டம் பனியில் நீராடும்
தென்னை இளந்தோப்பு வெயிலில் குளிர் காயும்
கன்னிக்கனவு கண்ணில் உறங்கும்
ஈரக்கரை ஓரம் சாரல் விழும் நேரம் காதல் வந்ததால்
எழுந்து சிரித்துக் கொழுந்து விரிக்கும் இளைய பூச்செடி
பொன் விளையும் நேரம் பூக்களின் மாநாடு
மகரந்தச்சேற்றில் வண்டுகள் விளையாட்டு
எந்தன் விழிக்குள் உன்னைத்தேடு
இலைகளின் மீதும் கிளைகளின் மீதும் கொஞ்சும் தமிழால்
உனது பெயரும் எனது பெயரும் எழுதப்போகிறேன்
உதய காலமே நனைந்த மேகமே
மொழியின் கதவு திறந்தது
விழியில் விடியல் புலர்ந்தது
அமுதம் பொழிந்து விளைந்த தமிழில் புலமை பிறந்தது

As they say, a great score keeps the story moving. When Poet Vairamuthu was commissioned to write the libretto for the song sequence (the heroine mastering her inamorato’s vernacular), Ilayaraaja wanted to capture the essence of it all, there was only one name on his list – P Susheela. Incidentally it was her inaugural song with the Poet. Since the 50s, she created those vivid virginal feminine theatrical characters on celluloid you could believe in. Ilayaraaja, grew up listening to the songstress’s repertoire (even to this day he fondly recalls the impact of her immortal solo “Malai Pozhuthin Mayakathile” from the 1961 movie “Bhagyalakshmi” and its life altering residuum on him).

An extraordinary voice, considered to be so fantastically accurate and multifaceted, she amalgamates her up-tempo vocals transparent with the orchestral ensemble, creating a unique festive ambience alternating between the lyrical passages – sense of accomplishment, the promise of love, passionate, emotional and vulnerable – yet ingeniously producing beautiful smooth lines with an recherche – impressionistic ending in “unadhu peyarum enadhu peyarum ezhudha pogiren”.   The soundtrack is as stimulative and refreshing today as it was in 1981.


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