If you had watched the broadcast of Andrum Indrum Endrum, Illayaraja's live performance in Chennai a year back, on Jaya TV I am sure you will have been haunted by that lovely tune they played each time they went for an ad break. It was Ilayaraja at his mesmeresing best, not exactly a rare occasion, but almost always a breathtaking one. If however I were to ask you which movie the song appears in, I am sure you would draw a blank. I chanced upon the video while skipping through the channels, on Sun Music of course, and trust me I was totally taken aback. Waltzing, kidding of course, it can be described as walking at best, to that tune was Vijayakanth at his young and dashing best, kidding again, and a heroine whose vivacious face and curvaceous body, sorry couldn't resist it (i meant the kidding part) , left me wondering how she wasn't touted as Kollywood's answer to Parveen Babi. And the name of the movie: Auto Raja. Pretty sure that the makers of the movie Auto had this name in mind before having to settle for a more mundane Oram Po, thanks to Kalignar's tax sop to all movies titled completely in Tamizh. That he forgot to mention which dailect of Tamizh and the wonderfully creative titles which came up because of this ruling is another story altogether.
Coming back to the issue of the picturisation of the above mentioned song, it is indeed a sad situation that this is not limited to just this song but to almost all of Illayaraja's classics. Atleast in the times of MSV and before there was never a great effort made because the tunes were simple and the lyrics all powerful. Though the lyrics remained equally poignant through Illayaraja's times, the directors decided that mere walking around wouldn't be enough and they had to jazz it up with dance routines. While the intentions may have been honest,the songs suffered. Often these days, I find myself hurriedly switching channels when I come across an old Illayaraja song being aired because I do not want my love for the song be diminished by the jarring visual.
To repeatedly watch a Karthik or Murali, or even worse some unknown face, try horribly to match step with the tune is a punishment which I wouldn't wish even on my enemy. At times I wonder how Illayaraja could allow for such blasphemy. Here's a genius belting out one masterful tune after another, only for it to be picturized in such a ridiculous manner. Would he not possibly envy the Harris' and Yuvans of today whose songs are made to appear, pun intended, much better than they actually are. How Shankar might have handled a "mayanginen Solla thayanginen" or a "kadhal kasukadaya", if you haven't seen these songs on television blame it on the lack of visual appeal, is a rather intriguing thought. Would he have still gone for those gigantic sets or instead understood the innate brilliance of the song and kept the picturization simple and hence enhance its appeal? Would "podhuvaga en manasu.. " song include some umpteen jaw dropping moves if picturised on Vijayrather than the rustic feel given to it in the actual movie? These are questions which one might say are best left unanswered. One supposes its pretty much the same with Illayaraja's songs. One just wishes they had gone "unpicturized".