HMV Raghu and Koothapiran offer insights into Vaalee the man

Tributes to poet Vaalee are pouring in from all quarters in all forms – prose and poetry. But the person, who played a major role in initiating him into cinema has not found mention. It was Magnet A. Rajaram, who gave Vaalee his payment of Rs. 10.

Another person, who was associated with the poet was HMV Raghu, who mentions Vaalee’s habit of giving generous compliments when he recognised good work. It was mid-1970s and Raghu was doing the audio mixing for aLP of Vaalee’s songs in praise of Muruga. Observing his finger movements on the mixer, the lyricist said, “Generally recordists need to be prompted to raise the decibel levels on special notes but you needed no such prompting as you have all you Gnyaanam on your finger tips.” With these words, Vaalee kissed his fingers. He wrote ‘Manmadhan Kai Karumbu Malar Kanaiyee’ under Raghu’s music direction for the film ‘Kanchi Kamakshi,’ produced and directed by K.S. Gopalakrishnan. “The time he took was about 10 minutes after the sequence was explained to him,” shares Raghu.

Foray into theatre

Talking of Vaalee’s ventures in theatre, Koothapiran mentions ‘India Today’ that had Manorama, ISR, Nair Raman and child artist N. Rathinam in the lead role as his favourite. It was a political satire highlighting Bharatiar’s greatness and was staged more than 100 times. Vaalee’s original drama script, ‘Gandhi Gramam,’ was later made into ‘Ore Oru Gramathilae,’ feature film. After watching Koothapiran’s stage play ‘Thevai Oru Thangai,’ which had Jaishankar and Srividhya in the lead, Vaalee met him in the green room and commended him for continuing his stint with AIR, something he could not (in Srirangam).

Koothapiran remembers Vaalee’s impeccable behaviour on the sets of ‘Kai Alavu Manasu,’ a TV soap. Although he was a celebrity lyricist at that time, he obeyed the instructions of director K. Balachander, to come up with a brilliant performance.

Vaalee’s last journey had already started when Koothapiran set out to pay his respects to a lifelong friend. He, therefore, positioned himself along the route lined with admirers, hoping to catch a glimpse. Spotting him, Vairamuthu signalled the hearse to slow down so that Koothapiran could come nearer.

“On my way back, these words of my friend kept coming back: ‘I feel very happy whenever I see your interviews that show that you cherish the bond with AIR. You have not forgotten the ladder that helped you climb great heights. I’m glad that you have not been swept off your feet by the money and fame that media tempt one with these days’.”