We find out.
This is a song from Moondram Pirai – a song that deservedly wears labels such as cult, classic, and timeless. Take away the brilliant music by Ilaiyaraaja, the performances of Sridevi and Kamal Haasan and the beautiful landscape of the Nilgiris seen through director Balu Mahendra’s vision. Just focus on the lyrics.
கண்மணி உன்னை நான்
எந்நாளும் என்னை நீ மறவாதே
நீ இல்லாமல் எது நிம்மதி
நீ தான் என்றும் என் சந்நிதி
(Kaadhal Kondein, Kanavinai Valarthein / Kanmani Unnai Naan, Karuthinil Niraithen
Unakke Uyiraanein, Ennalum Ennai Nee Maravadhe/Nee Illamal Edhu Nimmadhi, Nee than endrum En Sannidhi)
A sincere attempt at translating it would be:
I fell in love, I built my dreams,
My beloved, I filled you in my thoughts.
I became your life, please do not forget me
Without you, I have no peace, you’re my sanctum sanctorium.
I once recast these lines as:
Bittersweet love, delirious dreams
I held on
my iris, my precious,
you were all my reason
my only theory
I lived a life to be yours,
your shadow, your image
Overlooked as I am, forgotten as today
you’ve moved on.
I am an idol without temple, a war without end
no peace, no salvation without you.
The point is, these lyrics have stood the test of time. Beyond nostalgia. Beyond the Survivorship Bias, these words are both simple and poetic.
There are other fantastic songs and lyrics Tamil cinema has gifted us over the years.
And now, we have this:
It’s called the ‘Seruppu Song’. It features in a film called En Aaloda Seruppa Kaanom.
The film (or, perhaps, just the song?) tells of a man in search of his lover’s footwear.
Interesting premise, I suppose. Why must all love stories in Tamil cinema be about parental objection and city girl-village boy problems? Why can’t a story be about a girl’s lost slipper?
Silverscreen will review the film when it comes out, but for now, we have to deal with the song. Released recently.
For the first minute-and-a-half (and some change) of the four-minute song, is the line:
என் ஆளோட செருப்பை காணோம்
அதை தேடி தேடி அலையறேன் நானும்
En Aaloda Seruppa Kaanom, Adha Thedi Thedi Alayarein Naanom.
The chorus features evocative words such as these: “Seri Seri Seri Seruppu”
About a third of the song is the same line repeated 20-30 times.
The rest of the song has lines such as these:
“En Aalukku Iruvathu Vayasu. Aaru Thaan Seruppoda Size-u”
Well, good to know, I suppose. At least, she’s no minor. Unlike a few other heroines in Tamil cinema, she’s not in school and one doesn’t have to invoke statutory rape clauses here.
But, beyond that, I am not sure what the words signify. Metaphors, they are not. Beyond the literal meaning, one cannot read anything else in these words. Unlike Kannadasan’s poetry, which allows you to inject your own experiences, circumstances and moods into a song, and turn it into a salve for your burns, Seruppu’s lyrics are, well, sort of useless unless your loved one has lost his/her footwear too. And, if that happens more than once, maybe he/she’s trying to tell you something?
One could read the poetry of Kannadasan, Vaali or Vairamuthu and glean an insight into human nature. Their words are not the quotidian and the prosaic. They use the here and the now, to talk about the everywhere and the forever.
While the lines about the lover’s lost slipper do not endure beyond the first time it got lost.
Now, this could be unnecessary nitpicking and meanness for a song in a film about a woman’s lost footwear. What else could the song be about? Well, why not about the pain of loss? Not just about the footwear, but a general sense of loss. About a minor inconvenience for one person being a major issue for the person’s lover? Could not have the lyrics gone beyond finding the lost slipper, to going to the ends of Earth to wipe the frown off a lover’s face?
“வெளியே போனா நண்பனா இருக்கும்
வெய்யில் மழையில் வாசலில் கிடக்கும்”
Oh you don’t say!
Well, at least the lines rhyme.