In Tamil Nadu, where various seasons are just shades of summer, rain is a respite. The chilly weather after copious rainfall is sensual and romantic. No, we are not talking of the terrifying cyclones that are upon us now, but a normal rainy day accompanied by melodious Ilayaraja songs and spicy murukku with hot tea is any Tamil’s idea of bliss.
Tamil cinema has harvested on this fantasy element of rain. Even otherwise, rain is an emotion in world cinema. The rain element is woven into stories based on the requirement. It could be romance, desperation and even horror for the background. In yesteryear Tamil cinema, incessant rains with thunderstorms would often mean the mental agony of the hero.
Tamil cinema has harvested on this fantasy element of rain.
Sometimes, the rain on the silver screen expresses happier moments too. Gone are the days when rain was just a situation for the song, modern Tamil cinema has evolved into something where a mere rain scene would mean soulful background music or song. Let’s see how these rain songs developed in Tamil cinema at various periods.
During the 60s, rain was nothing but romance in Tamil cinema. The hero and heroine danced in the rain and the audience simply loved it. When Sivaji Ganesan and Malini danced in rain for the song, ‘Kaana inbam kaninthatheno’ in Sabash Meena, the screen brimmed with sensuality. MGR, Jayalalithaa and the rain were a romantic mix in movies those days. To name a few, ‘Mazhi muthu muthu panthalittu kitta kitta thalluthu’ from Ther Thiruvizha, ‘Aadai muzhudhum nanaya nanaya mazhayadikuthadi’ from Nam Naadu and many more
MGR and Saroja Devi would express their feelings for each other standing under a shelter as it rained in ‘Idhuvarai neengal partha parvai itharkuthana?’ in Panakkara Kudumbam movie while Ravichandran and Jayalalithaa would sing a duet sitting inside a car during rain in ‘Pothumo intha idam’ in Naan movie.
During the 70s, Jaishankar and Sivakumar turned rain into a must for romantic songs. Jaishankar and Usha Nandini would dance drenched in rain for the song ‘Indrumuthal selvam ithu en azhagu deivamithu’ in Veetukku Oru Pillai movie. He continued the trend till the Kulakozhunthu movie when he danced with Sri Priya for the song ‘Ada ennanga idhu’. Among many, the notable song of Sivakumar dancing in rain with Jayachitra is ‘Then sinthuthe vanam’ for Ponnukku Thanga Manasu movie.
But Ilayaraja’s music carried rain to another dimension altogether. The song ‘Ponvanam panneer thoovuthu inneram’ from Indru Nee Naalai Naan movie would portray a young widow longing for love and the rain just aggravating it. Lakshmi acted as the widow while Sivakumar was her brother-in-law resisting being carried away.
Rain had a long innings during the Rajini and Kamal era too. In the pouring rain, Rajini shook a leg with Radha for a peppy song ‘Pothukittu oothuthadi vaanam’ in Payum Puli. Kamal was often found testing his dancing prowess in rain like the song ‘Megam kottattum’ in Enakkul Oruvan. He did a classical dance under the rain for the song ‘Thakidathamithi’ from the Salangai Oli movie.
In Rajini’s Johnny movie, the sound of rain drops was beautifully woven into the background of ‘Katril enthan geetham’ song. Maestro Ilayaraja was at his best in this melody. Some of the notable rain songs of Ilayaraja include ‘Megam karukkuthu mazhai vara pakkuthu’, ‘Megam karukkaiyile pulla thegam kuliruthadi’, ‘Jalakku jalakku sela athai kattikittale’, ‘Ithayame ithayame’. His contemporaries as well as predecessors like Shankar-Ganesh, Amsalekha, Devendran have composed several rain songs in Tamil cinema.
But nothing matches Raja’s ‘Mazhai varuthu mazhai varuthu kudai konduva’ song from Raja Kaiya Vacha movie. Ironically, there is no rain in this song sung by K J Yesudoss and K S Chithira but the moment clouds open up, Ilayaraja’s fans would remember this song first.
Among the directors of Tamil cinema, not many have used rain as Mani Ratnam handled it. Who can forget Revathi’s dance in ‘Oho megam vandhadho’ in Mouna Raagam. Ilayaraja’s music and Revathi’s dance beckons us to get drenched in rain. Revathi did the same feat in ‘Vaan megam’ in Punnagai Mannan. Another song of this genre is ‘Athadi ammadi then mottuthan’ from Idhayathai Thirudathe movie.
Mani Ratnam would use rain on a positive note in Nayagan movie song ‘Andhi Mazhai Neram’. He used the rainy background for several songs like ‘Uyire Uyire’ from Bombay, ‘Nannare’ in Guru, ‘Nee Yaro Naan Yaro’ in Ayutha Ezhuthu, ‘Nenjinile Nenjinile’ from Uyire, ‘Evano oruvan vasikkiran’ from Alaipayuthey, ‘Mazhaikuruvi’ from Chekka Sivantha Vanam and ‘Kodu potta konnu podu’ from Ravanan movies. Tamil cinema directors following Mani Ratnam style tend to treat rain just like their mentor.
A R Rahman has used rain as background music. The best example is ‘Thenmerkku paruvakatru’ song from Karuthamma. Other rain songs composed by A R Rahman are ‘Sotta sotta nanayuthu Tajmahal’ from Tajmahal, ‘Chinna chinna mazhai thuligal’ from En Swasa Kaatre, ‘Maari mazhai peyyatho’ from Uzhavan and many more.
Thousands of rain songs are there in every era. Some in the industry feel incomplete if there is no rain song in their movie.
The Tamil cine industry created an exclusive movie titled ‘Mazhai’. Most of the songs in this movie are set in rain. Shreya’s performance in the movie fetched her an opportunity to act with Rajinikanth in Sivaji.
Other notable rain songs in Tamil cinema are ‘Ennai ennai konja konja vaa mazhaiye’ from Aadhi, ‘Mazhaiye mazhaiye’ from Eeram, ‘Sil Sil Mazhaiye’ from Arinthum Ariyamalum, ‘Sara sara sarakathu’ from Vagai Soodava and ‘Unnai Kandene’ from Parijatham. These rain songs actually give an experience of rain to viewers.
Thousands of rain songs are there in every era. Some in the industry feel incomplete if there is no rain song in their movie. Telugu cinema typically uses rain to up the glamour quotient. In Bollywood, Raj Kapoor was a pioneer in using rain and the trend continues.
For cinema, shooting rain is something sensual. When we take a plunge into these rain songs and indulge ourselves, the rain gently cascades into our hearts melting us.