Mahanadhi - a Tamil movie from 1993. The movie should have been named as Kaveri. This movie is one of a kind which some of Kamal movies fall under - critically acclaimed, appreciated whenever telecasted in television, and of course a not so good performer at box office upon theatrical release.
There are many high points in this movie
(i) of course Kamalhasan and the other cast - Cochin Haneefa, Suganya, Shobana, Poornam Vishwanathan, SN Lakshmi and others,
(ii) Ilaiyaraaja's music - background score of the movie stood apart. For anyone, pointing out top 10 of Ilaiyaraaja's background score will be uphill task. Mahanadhi has to be there in it - for taking the emotions of the movie to another level.
(iii) Dialogues - Top notch dialogues. Episodes between Poornam Vishwanathan and Kamalhasan in prison is one example. Direction - Santhanabarathi
(iv) Many other aspects which made the movie so special.
These strengths are required for any movie to stand apart. This man made this movie even more special. His beautiful lines - Kavignar Vaali.
What is the story of Mahanadhi? A person from a village moves to Chennai, goes bankrupt, loses his family, goes to jail, gets released, finds his family members back, takes revenge and goes to jail, gets back to his place after serving his sentence in jail. This emotional drama had all its ingredients in correct place.
The makers made this timeless drama more special by making river Kaveri a prime character. This special character is made even more special by Vaali. Who can be a better person to write about Kaveri than Vaali, who had his best part of his life at its banks.
Another version of the story!
Kaveri, the Mahanadhi, makes the people who depend on it, happy and prosperous by giving away its water. All the areas it flows by is fertile. People make their living by farming making use of its water. The lives of the people around are mainly because of this river. The protagonist is a landlord and has a special bonding with the river. He praises the river (courtesy: Vaali), enjoys the life over there. Trouble starts when the protagonist moves beyond the vicinity of Kaveri. He loses its wealth that came to him because of Kaveri, he misses his children, goes to jail, comes back, fights to get his children, comes back to banks of Kaveri.. The makers have beautifully integrated Kaveri throughout the film. How? By building conversations between Kaveri and Kamalhasan through songs.
Yeah, the songs! Vaali, the legend uplifted the emotional drama to the best of its kind in Indian cinema so far.
Let us go through how he made it so special. The temple song from the family - Sriranga ranganathanin, the conversations songs - four songs in the same tune - Pongal song, Anbana thayai vittu, Engeyo thikku thesai and Thanmanam ulla nenjam - all written by Vaali made it special. The idea of having same tune at four different places has to be applauded.
Why these songs are special?
When the idea of a person's love to his land is conceived, they have made it a point - Kaveri, a prime character in the movie. Kamal's love to the river, in return the motherly love of river towards everyone have been well portrayed. Portrayed through ofcourse the Kamal's acting and the beautiful lines of Vaali. Let us go through the songs.
1. Sriranga ranganathanin
The first song of the movie - showing the protagonist's family. The song praises the lord Ranganathan and Kaveri, which forms the good life of most of the families in the Kaveri belt.
Kaveri is referred as Thengangai in pallavi. First charanam speaks about the Ranganathan. Second charanam praises the Kaveri.
Here goes the lines
Kannadam Thaai Veedu Ènrirunthaalum
Kanni Un Maruveedu Thennagamaagum
Gangaiyin Maelaana Kaaviri Theertham
Mangala Neeraada Munvinai Theerkkum
Neervannam Èngum Maevida Nanjai Punjaigal Paaradi
Oørvannam Ènna Køøruvaen Dhaeva Løagamae Thaanadi
Vaerengu Šendra Pøthilum Intha Inbangal Aethadi..
These lines portray how Kaveri is filled in the minds of Kamal and how it is seen godly.
It says Kaveri is holier than Ganga. It also says life cannot be this good in any other places.
The bond of the protagonist and Kaveri is well established in the song.
2. Pongalo Pongal
First of the songs of same tune.
Here goes the lyrics
Thai Pongalum Vanthathu Paalum Ponguthu
Vanna Mangaiyar Aadidum Mahaanathiyai
Intha Ponni Enbaval Thennaattavarkku Anbin Annaiyadi
Ival Thanneer Endroru Aadai Kattidum Theiva Mangaiyadi
Muppaattan Kaalam Thottu Muppogam Yaaraalae
Kalmaedu Thaandivarum Kaavaeri Neeraalae
Sethoda Saerntha Vithai Naathu Vidaathaa
Naathodu Sethi Solla Kaatru Varaathaa
Sevaazha Sengarumbu Saathi Malli Thottam Dhaan
Ellaamae Ingirukka Aethum Illa Vaattam Dhaan
Namma Sorgam Enbathu Mannil Ullathu Vaanil Illaiyadi
Namma Inbam Enbathu Kannil Ullathu Kanavil Illaiyadi
Thanneer Endroru Aadai Kattidum Theiva Mangai - Kaveri a Godly woman who wore water as her saree. What a writing by the great Vali!
Pongal - a festival which is celebration of the land, farming etc., I am not diving deep into it since most of the readers would be Tamils and would be aware of Pongal. Other, please google and get more insights.
For people in the banks of Kaveri, all their wealth and life is due to the river. This song is a celebration song and it praises Kaveri throughout. It says all the living from their ancestors time is due to agriculture, which is because of the Kaveri. When there is this prosperity, this is the heaven in land, there is no heaven in skies - writes Vaali. Every farmer will agree to it. Where else can be a heaven?
Thus this song shows the love of people towards Kaveri and how they treat it.
3. Anbana Thaayai vittu
Second of the same tune song
The song is how the land and Kaveri are like mother and how it feels for the family leaving from the place
The lyrics goes like
Anbana Thaayai Vittu Engae Nee Ponalum
Neengaamal Unnai Sutrum Ennangal Ennaalum
Aiyaa Un Kaalgal Patta Bhoomi Saayumadi
Engaeyum Aethum Illa Eedu Sollumbadi
Kaveri Alaigal Vanthu Karaiyil Unnai Thaedidum
Kaanamal Varuthapattu Thalai Kuvinthu Oadidum
Oru Bantham Enbathum Paasam Enbathum Vaeru Vitta Idam
Ithai Vittalum Nenjai Vaazha Vaipathu Vaeru Entha Idam
Than Mannaivittoru Kuruvi Kudumbham Paranthu Poguthadi
Thaan Innal Varaikum Iruntha Kootai Maranthu Poguthadi
Intha Nenjil Ippadi Aasai Vanthoru Kolam Ittathadi
Ithil Nanmai Koodattum Theemai Oadattum Kaalam Vitta Vazhi..
எங்கேயோ திக்கு திசை காணாத தூரம்தான்
அம்மாடி வந்ததென்ன என் வாழ்கை ஓடம்தான்
காவேரி தீரம் விட்டு கால்கள் வந்ததடி
காணாத சோகம் எல்லாம் கண்கள் கண்டதடி
கைமாறி நான் வளர்த்த பச்சைக்கிளி போனது
கண்ணார நானும்காண இத்தனை நாள் ஆனது
இரு கண்ணே செந்தமிழ்த்தேனே தந்தையின் பாசம் வென்றதடி
பசும் பொன்னே செவ்வந்திப்பூவே இத்துடன் சோகம் சென்றதடி
நான் கங்கா நதியை காணும் பொழுது உண்மை விளங்குது
அட இங்கே குளிக்கும் மனிதன் அழுக்கில் கங்கை கலங்குது
சில பொல்லா மனங்கள் பாவக்கறையை நீரில் கழுவுது
இந்த முட்டாள்தனத்தை எங்கே சொல்லி நானும் அழுவது
Thanmaanam Ulla Nenjam Ennalum Thaazhathu
Sevaanam Minnal Vetti Panneru Veezhathu
Kavaeri Thaai Madiyil Vaazhtha Pillaiyadi
Kaatradi Poal Irunthu Veezhvathilaiyadi
Ambana Uravu Kandu Koodukatti Aaduvaen
Annalil Naan Iruntha Vaazhkaiyathaan Thaeduvaen..
Andru Sonnaan Bharathi Solliya Vaarthaigal Thoatrathillaiyadi..
Enthan Ennam Ennum Tholvi Enbathai Aetrathillaiyadi..