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Former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa whose death anniversary is being observed today has written that her favourite movie song is Chinna Payale Chinna Payale Seidhi Kelada. The song was written by leftist bard Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram who died when he turned 29.
The song was featured in the movie, Arasilankumari starring MGR that came out in 1961. The dialogues of the film were penned by M Karunanidhi. TM Soundararajan sang that song.
The article was the first in a series she wrote in the Tamil magazine, Thai, owned and edited by Valampuri John. The article appeared at a time MGR had brought her into the AIADMK party. Many years later, in 1993 when she was chief minister, Jayalalithaa nationalised the works of Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram.
Below is a jist of what she wrote in Thai magazine.
Jayalalithaa says film songs express many emotions: patriotism, love, bravery, affection and devotion. So what can be the yardstick to decide which is best? If a song can be shown to clearly benefit humankind, especially tomorrow’s generation, then that song can be the best, she answers.
Jayalalithaa says since the day she heard it first the song became her favourite. She praises G Ramanathan for the melodious tune, TM Soundararajan for his heartfelt singing, as well as MG Ramachandran since he was known to include at least one song in his movie that would advice or provide guidance for human society.
Recounting the first few lines, she says the words show that the poet Kalyanasundaram has an older man telling a boy to listen and consider what he is saying and think it through. She finds this a very important nuance since the older man is not commanding the boy to blindly accept but to consider and think for himself what he is going to say. Jayalalithaa says this shows the right attitude one should have for young people.
The next four lines talk about how growth is not just physical but also mental development. Only then the mother who gave birth to him will be happy. Jayalalithaa, who was known to be very close to her mother, finds this line touching. She says mental development should be accompanied by rational thinking, compassion, politeness and kindness.
Jayalalithaa says parents create fear among children, making them cowards in later life.
She interprets the next few lines to mean that despite all the knowledge that books can give, only real life experience can lead to real mental development. When a man faces challenges and troubles that threaten his sense of self-respect, then he may not have friends and family to back him but will have to find his own way to preserve his honour. In this also, Jayalalithaa is expressing her inner mental life, recalling Pattukottai’s words that self-respect should be ingrained in one’s nervous system.
Jayalalithaa then extols Kalyanasundaram’s pitch for human values and a humane approach. She says young people should learn to work to alleviate others’ misery. Then he will become a tool for good in tomorrow’s society.
She reasons that Kalyanasundaram uses the word right hand because all the important functions including eating, defending oneself, writing are all done by the right hand. So a person with human values will be society’s right hand.
Jayalalithaa is expressing her inner mental life, recalling Pattukottai’s words that self-respect should be ingrained in one’s nervous system.
Jayalalithaa then makes the poet’s Leftist sentiments her own saying change cannot come by itself but by each person working for it. She cites the Marxian idea that property is the root of all exploitation. She asks children to develop selflessness and work for society.
She interprets Pattukottai’s sarcastic references to tales that people tell that restrain people and build boundaries. She says a child does not know danger and needs to be told by his or her parents what is dangerous. But those ideas should not put irrational fears into people, she explains.
Jayalalithaa accepts that older people, for instance, prevent children from climbing neem trees saying ghosts reside there. She says parents create fear among children, making them cowards in later life.
Jayalalithaa concludes by saying Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram has given all the important guidelines and advice that a child needs for his life. This is not a song, but a life lesson, she adds.
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