Saleem, who passed away recently, had carved a niche for himself in the fields of music, drama, literature and cinema.

Nagore Saleem, a famous poet, who passed away at his native Nagore town in Nagapattinam district recently, has left behind scores of Islamic devotional songs that will echo in the hearts of all music lovers and singers.

A multi-faceted personality, he had carved a niche in the world of drama and film, apart from Tamil literature. Most of his songs can be heard in the devotional programmes of Doordarshan, All India Radio and other television channels.

Saleem belongs to the classical clan of Vanna Kalanjiya Pulavargal, who drafted the four Islamic epics. He was the brother of Junaidha Begum, the first muslim woman credited with authoring a novel and Thooyavan, who had produced many films and penned dialogues for many of them.

What made Saleem popular is his strict adherence to conventional ethics in flow and style. He started writing poems from his school days. His focus became drama and songs.

His pseudonyms

He wrote under pen names that include Vannadasan, Maraidasan, Payanapriya and Leesam. As theatre was the only popular entertainment available at that time, , he started producing and directing plays for which he wrote the dialogues and songs.

‘Vidavai Kanneer’ was one of his famous plays, for which the make-up men attached to Gemini studio also helped out. The tremendous public response led to tickets being sold in black. He staged dramas such as ‘Santharppam’, ‘Sokkali’, ‘Mister 1960’, ‘Sannithanam’ and ‘En Thangai’ in places that include Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Nagore and Tirumarugal.

His popularity drew the attention of stars such as Major Sundararajan and K. Kannan, who utilised his songs in their plays.

Saleem has composed 7,500 songs, which were brought out as albums, compact discs and audio cassettes. For many listeners, his devotional songs including ‘Tamizhagathu Dargakkalai Parthu Varuvom…’, ‘Antha Naalile Makka Nagaram Irunthathai Kelungal…’, ‘Vaaza vaazha nalla vazhigalundu…’, ‘Tirumaraiyin arul mozhiyin vilainthiruppathu yenna..’ and ‘Vaazha vaazha nalla vazhigalundu…,’ are unforgettable.

A majority of Saleem’s popular songs were rendered by Nagore E. M. Haneefa, whose voice added energy and life. Apart from Haneefa, about 100 singers entered the musical arena through his devotional songs.

Saleem also wrote political songs, mainly hailing the Dravidian movement and Dravidian parties. ‘Kallakkudi konda Karunanidhi vaazhgave…,’ ‘Oodi varugiran Udhayasooriyan…,’ ‘Valartha kida marbil painthathada…,’ ‘Thedinen unnai; nee engae senrai…’ (penned at the time of demise of late C. N. Annadurai), ‘Kaintha Sivantha Sooriyagandhi…’ (on late MGR) were some of his famous songs, which also aided in the popularity of these parties.

Unfortunately, in the film industry, success eluded him. He had penned four songs for the Tamil version of ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, the 1960 epic Hindi film. He also wrote songs for ‘Maha Nadigan’ and ‘Nagoorar Magimai’, a film, which was not released.

The Tamil Nadu Government honoured him with ‘Kalaimamani award’ in 2000.

Keywords: SaleemTamil literature