Being newly in love
"adi oka idi le, atanike tagule," I hummed, smiling. I was in thrall of a new obsession and that song describes new love perfectly.
I don't know about current film music, but Telugu and Tamil or Hindi film songs that I grew up with are what strike me when I need an apt phrase to sum up a situation. Because there are songs in our films for almost any situation, I can quote snatches of old film songs that are perfect for pangs of separation, sorrow of parting, unrequited love, betrayal, rejection, loss or for being smitten.
The song I hummed has two versions, Tamil and Telugu. I suppose a Hindi version exists, but who cares?
To digress a bit:
If it's a tough task to write to a tune, it's tougher to write and replicate nuances of another language. Kannadasan could do wordplay using participles in his famous honey song paarthen, sirithen and round it off with eduthen koduthen suvai then, inithen illadhapadi kadhai mudithen. But when a song is written for a situation, a mood and a film, lyricists don't compete or try to cap each other's brilliance. The languages are different, the grammar and idiom. It is silly to try to match wordplay then.
Same tune and all, but the Telugu version choochee valachee has its own brilliance, even if playing with participles couldn't be continued throughout. So the Telugu version says sandiTa bandee chEsee naa bandee vaSamaipOtee, marvellous in its own way: having imprisoned my love in my arms, I surrendered to my prisoner.
But to get back to adi oka idi le, it's another song written for the same script, situation and the same mood. Even the tune is the same. But it differs from the original song; anubavam pudhumai is a brilliant song, but so is adi oka idi le.
Made in mid nineteen sixties, Kathalikka Neramillai is more famous for the comic genius of Nagesh, but it has some lovely songs. When it was remade into Telugu as Preminchi Choodu the original tunes were retained.
The original, anubavam pudhumai is a masterpiece depicting the fresh giddiness of new love, describing all states thereof. But then, it was written by a master poet, Kannadasan. In Telugu, the other magical poet, Atreya, wrote the equally brilliant lyric.
Both songs deal with the obsessive thinking about the sweetheart, reliving the last meeting, the words spoken, the gestures and tones, the caresses bestowed; the state of being lovelorn, how each aches for the other are brilliantly captured in both.
It is ages since I heard either of them, so I searched for the songs. I found the Tamil version easily enough, but I have Megha to thank for the Telugu version and Anantha to thank for Megha.
When you consider the songs side by side, as I have been doing today, it is impossible to decide which is better. I have listened to them over and over to make up my mind. I can't.
Both songs mention the girl's walk. The young man takes liberties in both. They relive the meeting in both, they go into raptures over each other in both, and they are swooning with desire in both. Love is a new experience in both.
Kannadasan says anubavam pudhumai, and goes on to describe the new state, the new bold thoughts and the new desires; but Atreya says adi oka idi le and defines the experience in the very opening line as indefinable. That is a bit like something, the lovers say, because nothing can describe it. I like that.
The first time your amour holds your face in his hands, your cheeks feel branded, and you will feel the imprint of those hands for a long time after. The idea ponnaana kai pattu puNNaana kannangkaLE is too enchanting to leave unexplored, but idiom in Telugu doesn't suit literal translation. So Atreya says siggEla annaaDu naa bugga gillaaDu, capturing the initial shyness and being coaxed into intimacy beautifully.
When she sang those lines or when she sang, kaNNenna kaNNenRu aruginil avan vanthaan, P Susheela conveyed the breathless excitement of initial intimacy and remembered wonder at those bold moments perfectly.
Who doesn't remember the delicious shivers a caress creates? In the lines pani pOl kuLirnthadhu kani pOl iniththadhammaa, mazai pOl vizunthadhu malaraay malarnthadhammaa, Kannadasan makes the rapture clear.
Atreya says enDalle vachchaaDu manchalle karigaanu, vennellu kuriSaaDu vEDekkipOyaanu, and that is equally beautiful. I wouldn't dare attempt a translation of the Tamil version, but the Telugu can be interpreted like this: he arrived like the sun, I melted like dew, he rained moonlight and I burned with it.
Watching one's love obsessively, one notes the stance, the carriage and more, one is enchanted by everything. thaLLaadi thaLLaadi nadamittu avaL vanthaaL, says Kannadasan and adds later, singkaarath thEr pOla kulungkidum avaL vaNNam. That's lovely, but can't be carried over to Telugu.
So, naDakEdi annaanu naDichindi oka saari, says Atreya. He makes the girl sashay for her sweetheart. But where you can see the poet incarnate is in Atreya's next line, naDumEdi annaanu, navvindi vayyaari: where's that walk, I said, she walked for me; where's the waist, I said, she laughed at me.
Classical poets described women's waists in many charming ways. Sreenaatha, in calling Damayanti astinaastivichiktsaahEtuSaatOdari, said that her waist sparked debates whether it existed or not. So following tradition, Atreya's young man asks a silly question and gets a laugh in reply.
Whenever I hear this song, I wonder if Atreya wrote that deliberately tongue in cheek. You see, he surely must have known the female leads were the same as in the Tamil version. And Rajashree could be described as plump or buxom only if one wanted to be kind. To have a young man ask her where her waist is provokes mirth.
Or maybe Atreya meant that since it was clear she had no waist, the question was laughable.
"adi oka idi le," I hummed.
"What's that?" he asked.
"I am in lurve," I declared loftily.
"Yeah, but what is that song?"
"Just sums it up, honey."