“Sidhariya Sadhangaigal Pole” – Paavai Vilakku (1960) – 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.


Theatrical & Vinyl Versions

“There is no greater sorrow than to recall in misery the time when we were happy.” – Poet Dante Alighieri (c.1265) – “Non vi è alcun dolore più grande che quello di ricordare in miseria il tempo quando eravamo felici”

Allegories of the Shattered Anklets & An Exercise in Vocal Jurisprudence from P Susheela!

Paavai Vilakku (1960) is a Tamil feature film directed by K. Somu (a protege of American filmmaker Ellis R. Duncan). The film features Sivaji Ganesan, Sowcar Janaki, Pandari Bai, M. N. Rajam and Kumari Kamala in lead roles. The film had musical score by K. V. Mahadevan and the lyrics penned by Poet(s) Subramania Bharathi & A Maruthakasi. The film was based on the very popular Tamil author P. V. Akilandam’s (Akilan) novel “Paavai Vilakku”. As the story was serialized in Kalki, a weekly Tamil magazine, the diegesis  had many intertwining of characters, it became quite labyrinthine to ensconce scenarios in the movie. Despite the novel’s eclat, brilliant screenplay by A.P. Nagarajan, blue-chip performances by Sivaji Ganesan (his unconventional entanglement with three women in his life) and a well supported female cast that included Sowcar Janaki, M N Rajam, and Kumari Kamala., the film did not fare well at the box office. The film is remembered for the soundtrack, dance numbers choreographed and engineered by the renowned K N Dandayudhapani Pillai. The movements were executed graciously by the preeminent Bharatanatyam dancer ‘Kumari’ Kamala who happens to play a climacteric role in the movie.

Akilan (P.V. Akilandam, 1922-1988) was hailed as one of the greatest Tamil writers, whose repute spread across the globe. His monumental body of literary works have been translated into many languages, including Czechoslovakian, Russian, French and Japanese. He has published 45 books on varying genres, most of them rated as belles-lettres that won him international recognition. His novels Chithira Pavai, Venghayin Mainthan were winners of the Jnanpith and Sahithya Academy awards from the Govt of India.

Kumari Kamala [b.1934] (aka Kamala Laxman) is an Indian dancer (specializes in Kathak and Bharathanatyam), vocalist (Hindustani Classical) and an actress who had  appeared in almost 100 Tamil, Hindi, Telugu and Kannada films throughout her career. She trained under illustrious teacher(s) such as Lachu Maharaj (Kathak) & Kattumannarkoil Muthukumara Pillai, Vazhuvoor B. Ramaiyah Pillai (Bharthanatyam). In the 1970s, she became a teacher of the Vazhuvoor Bani/Style of classical dance. At age four, she acted in films Valibar Sangam (1938) and Ramanama Mahimai (1939). The film industry took notice of her dance performances and she made an entry into Hindi films with Kismet (1944) & Ram Rajya (1943).  Kamala’s first role in a successful Tamil film was Jagathalaprathapan (1944) where she performed the Snake Dance. Kamala played a double role in her next film Sri Valli (1945) and also played Sri Krishna in the film Meera (1945). However, it was her film Naam Iruvar (1947), based on Gandhian principles (dance recital for the song “Mahan Gandhi Mahan” rendered by M S Rajeswari),  that would have major reverberations on Tamil cinema.

In 1953, Kamala was invited to perform for Queen Elizabeth II during her coronation festivities. In the late 1950s she toured internationally, performing in China and Japan. In 1970, the Govt of India awarded her the the third highest civilian honor Padma Bhushan. She also taught dance for two terms at Colgate University, New York after being awarded its Branta Professorship in 1975.  In 1980, Kamala moved to New York City permanently and began teaching classical dance. She established a dance school in Long Island, Shri Bharatha Kamalalaya. In 2010 she received a National Heritage Fellowship from the US National Endowment for the Arts for her contributions.

Lyrics: Poet Marudhakasi/மருதகாசி
சிதறிய சதங்கைகள் போலே
சிதறியதே என் எண்ணங்கள் மண் மேலே
சிதறிய சதங்கைகள் போலே
சிதறியதே என் எண்ணங்கள் மண் மேலே
சிதறிய சதங்கைகள் போலே
இதயத்தை கொள்ளை கொள்ள தோன்றிய நாதம்
இன்பமெல்லாம் வழங்கும் சங்கீதம்
இதயத்தை கொள்ளை கொள்ள தோன்றிய நாதம்
இன்பமெல்லாம் வழங்கும் சங்கீதம்
நின்றது பாதியில் நிலையாய் உலகில்
துன்பமென்னும் இருள் சூழந்ததென் வாழ்வில்
சிதறிய சதங்கைகள் போலே
சிதறியதே என் எண்ணங்கள் மண் மேலே
சிதறிய சதங்கைகள் போலே
பாட்டிலே சோக பாவமே மீறுதே மனமே தடுமாறுதே
என் பாட்டிலே சோக பாவமே மீறுதே மனமே தடுமாறுதே
வாட்டிடும் துயரத்தில் வசமிழந்த
பாட்டிலே சோக பாவமே மீறுதே
கற்பனை உலகினில் நான் கண்ட கனவுகள் கலைந்ததை நினைந்தே கலங்கும்
எனது பாட்டிலே சோக பாவமே மீறுதே
இரு விழிகளும் மழை பொழிந்திட ஒரு கதி இலையென துடித்திட நான்
பாடும் பாட்டிலே சோக பாவமே மீறுதே
sidhariya sadhangaigal pole
sidhariyadhe en ennangal man mele
idhayathai kollai kolla thondriya naadham
inbamellam vazhangum sangeetham
nindrathu paathiyil nilaiyaai ulagil
thunbamenum irul soozhdhathen vaazhvil
paatile sogha bhaavame meerudhe
maname thdumaarudhe
karpanai ulaginil naan kanda kanavugal kalaidhathai ninaindhe kalangum
iru vizhigalum mazhai pozindhida oru gadhi ilaiyena thudithida naan

The scenario is featured on Kumari Kamala, a dancer to whom the hero (Sivaji Ganesan) is attracted, but the discrete relationship is never consummated and they separate. In the meantime, a wealthy patron disowns her.  Few years pass by and she stumbles upon the hero at a parlor as he slanders her of deceit and disloyalty.  She laments “karpanai ulagil naan kanda kanavugal kalaindhathai ninaindhe urugum” how apt, as writer James Ivory puts it: our hearts and bodies are given to us only once,  it is germane as we begin exploring the soundscape!

Poet Maruthakasi pens the mournful melancholy about unrequited love and the dilemma facing the dancer.  P Susheela is commissioned to render the inconsolable libretto (the original soundcloud version) and she couriers it in one of her most impassioned vocals ever and that opening line – “sidhariya sadhangaigal pole” tells you all you need to comprehend.  There’s palpable throe in every word that drips from her distressed labium “sidhariyadhe en ennangal man mele”, as they say you cant make your heart feel something it wont.

Hear the euphoria staggering down the horizon wasteland in Susheela’s lugubrious tone  – “nindradhu paadhiyil nilaiyai ulagil thunbamennum irul soozhdadhen vaazhvil” – a fresco of emptiness and vacuity. The dolor, the agony and the genuine ache in her voice – “paatile sogha bhaavame meerudhe maname thadumarudhe” – splinters alongside the heartsickness. Pretty darn sad.

K V Mahadevan’s imposing string section lets you know that there’s some cavernous, heavy emotions on display in this power ballad, and either way tears readily cascade with bona fide empathy for the heroine. Susheela’s maudlin tone in – “iru vizhigalum mazhai pozhindhida” – and its underlying lachrymose, conclusion and fatalism just runs through our spine – the hero is not walking away unscarred.

Her crawling voice echoes into eternity in – “oru gadhi ilaiyena thudithida naan” – and attempts to make sense of her nugatory existence. Susheela’s slow deliberate vocals at the end adds to the dysphoria, sounds very kosher – a lesson indeed in vocal jurisprudence from the Diva Susheela!


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