Continuing from where my previous post;
For some reason Bharathiyaar has not been given his due place in Tamilnadu as, someone like Gurudev Tagore has been given in West Bengal. The school children’s exposure to the great poet probably starts and ends in fancy dress competitions and a few songs sung in the annual day functions. There is not much effort to study his works either for moral values or for the sheer beauty of the verses.
Be that as it may, in the digital age , it is You-tube which is the ultimate teacher. The ‘lessons’ from the You-tube are spread about by Whatsapp and Facebook. Unfortunately, here too the wind conditions are not favourable to Bharathi as he is neither a hindutva icon nor a dalit icon. Nor does he appeal to the cool dudes by his looks or the language he wrote in. It is becoming fashionable even in Tamilnadu to not to speak in Tamil leave alone read or write.
So be it.
While his patriotic songs are more popular (particularly for school annual day functions) his philosophical works are not so well known. His major works were Kannan Paattu, Kuyil Paattu and Panchali Sabatham. . Once he is said to have offered that he would give away an English booklet he wrote , a parody on Theosophical Society , (The Fox with a Golden Tail) to anyone who buys his “Panchali Sabatham” .
Some the most beautiful verses of Bharathi can be found in his book ‘ Kannan Paattu’.
This is a collection of 23 poems wherein the poet looks at Kannan / Kannamma as his mother, father, child, friend, sweetheart, king, his guru, servant and the family deity. Of course the most popular compositions are those depicting Krishna as a lover.
It is said that this song was composed by the great poet when he had misplaced the only photo he had of his mother who had passed away when he was barely five years old. As such it was a black and white faded picture and He had only a vague memory of his mother and now with that photograph gone he feels utterly helpless.
One of the verses brings out the total purposelessness of his life by comparing himself to a bee which has forgotten honey !
The lyrics are captivating. Unfortunately , most singers prefer to include only three or four stanzas out of the six .
for the lyrics and translation see here
The pain he feels is expressed as the pain of a girl who is in love with the eternal lover Krishna and has lost all memory of how he looked.
While many of his popular poems have been picturised in Tamil Cinema, this one has hardly been sung even in carnatic music concerts.
Courtesy You-tube, today, one can hear different versions of the song.
Every famous artist has come out with his / her own version. The list of artists include Sowmya, Nithyashree, Priya Sisters, Karthik Iyer, Maharajapuram Santhanam Sikkil Gurcharan, Suchitra Karthik and Mahathi. Sometime in 2011, An Album was released by Shankar Tucker , Struti Box on you tube . It is the absolute pathos of the situation that stands out. Every singer tries to bring out the feeling with the gamakams , so characteristic to carnatic music. Maharajapuram Santhanam sings it in a fast tempo , unusual for a sad song; yet the feeling is perceptible though in a kind of detached way.
The music composed and produced by Shankar Tucker , sung by Vidhya Iyer and Vandana Iyer was an instant hit and at the time of writing this piece, it had crossed 4 million views. It captures the mood of the song beautifully. Maharajapuram Santhanam sings it in a fast tempo , unusual for a sad song; yet the feeling is perceptible though in a kind of detached way. To his credit he covers the all the six stanzas. Karthik’s version sounds modernistic may be because of the accompaniments.
Choose your pick and enjoy. The video gallery also includes a wonderful dance performance by Pooja Unni