I wonder sometimes what makes a song classical.

In my definition, what makes a song classical is that it can give you Goosebumps when you listen to it even after decades.

What makes the difference ?

  • The Singer
  • The Music
  • The Lyrics
  • The Artist
  • The Cinematography
  • … ????

Two songs from the Tamil movie ‘Nizhalgal’ continues to be a source of inspiration to me even after three and half decades.

They are

Idhu oru Ponmalai

Madai Thirandhu

I can go back to these songs any day or in any state to lift up my mood

In some ways the above two songs marked the arrival of a generation and possibly laid the foundations for the transformation of a generation that was possibly rooted in traditions.

Also, the first song cemented the place for  Vairamuthu (Incidentally this was his first song as a lyricist), who cemented his place as one of the gifted poets for the people of Tamil Nadu

The second song in my view marked the transformation of Vaali, a established veteran by that time, who adapted himself to match the generational shifts happening around that time.

It is next to impossible to separate out any of the five elements mentioned above to dissect what stays with me. However , remove the artist and the cinematography( I think they have been captured pretty well), the song stays with me.

Now comes the tough part. It is impossible to remove the singer (by SPB), the Music  (The Maestro) and still enjoy the song.

However, what makes me go back to the song are the following immortal lines

Isaikkena isaigindra rasigargal raajjiyam enakke dhaan (இசைக்கென இசைக்கின்ற ரசிகர்கள் ராஜ்ஜியம் எனக்கே தான்) from Madai thirandhu

The above lines, for me the underlying philosophy is ‘Enjoy What you Do’


Vaanam Enakkoru Bothi Maram
Naalum Enakkathu Saethi Tharum
Oru Naal Ulagham Neethi Perum

(வானம் எனக்கொரு போதி மரம்

நாளும் எனக்கது சேதி தரும் ஒரு நாள் உலகம் நீதி பெரும்) from Idhu Oru Ponmalai

The above lines, for me the underlying philosophy is ‘Eternal Hope’.

In both cases, I have to say it is the lyrics which makes these songs immortal and I bow down to both the poets for having the power to lift a soul. SPB and The Maestro also are inspiring, but here I feel it is the words.

That is my view.

I do not think it is fair to separate out the singer, lyricist, composer, but I thought I will take a chance and share what brings me back to these songs and my verdict in this case is the lyrics.

What do you think ?