Most cinema buffs who heard the song 'Oh Mahazeeya' in Tamizh Padam were rather amused. Not just because they found the idea of using familiar lines from other film songs funny, but also because they were able to trace each of the "meaningless" words or phrases used in the song to the original hit.
Director Amudhan, who wrote the song, says he started out looking for words such as 'Shaka laka', 'Randakka', and 'Naakka mokka', but found more than he thought he would. The entire song is written using such popular lines.
"Since the film was a spoof, I wanted to try and dig out as many funny aspects and trends in Tamil films. It was not meant to hurt anyone," he says.
While it may have sounded funny, the song also points to changing trends in Tamil film music.
Lyrics of songs in Tamil films today range from being conventionally poetic, conversational, funny and nostalgic to politically incorrect at times. Not that this is new, but with a bunch of young and talented lyricists around, in addition to the seniors, the picture has got bigger and more exciting.
"Much depends on the target audience. How old is your average film-goer today? About 18 - 25 years. There was a time when the lyrics touched the heart. Now, it is increasingly about making listeners tap their feet," observes veteran poet-lyricist Vairamuthu.
The storyline is also important, he emphasises. ?In films with a good storyline, songs serve as a tool that helps move the story. Films with a weak storyline cannot have songs with profound meaning,? he adds.
On arbitrary words being used Mr. Vairamuthu says such words have been used earlier, too. "It is for the way they sound. In older films, the comedian may have sung such songs, just that the hero sings them now," he quips, adding that not all current songs are like that.
Lyricist Arivumathi feels that Tamil songs are in safe hands with the entry of lyricists such as Na. Muthukumar, Yugabharathi, Tamarai, Pazhanibharathi, Kabilan, Viveka and Snehan.
"They use such refreshingly new poetic devices and words, without affecting the natural flow of poetry. The metaphors and references are so rich," he says, citing songs in films such as Subramanyapuram, Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu and Paruthiveeran.
Commenting on the variety Tamil films have seen through the pens of Kannadasan, Vaali, Vairamuthu, Marudakasi and Pattukottai Kalyana Sundaram, Arivumathi says the collection will only get richer now. "All of them get opportunities and the scene is very healthy and importantly, democratic."
However, lyricists such as Tamarai feel that songs with "genuine and decent" lyrics are exceptions. "My attempts are directed towards making such songs mainstream. Even in a song describing a woman (Oru ooril azhagae uruvai?), I consciously chose to highlight the personality traits and not her appearance.?
Noting that the male and female perspectives would always vary, she says: "Much depends on how the director and music director think. I'd rather listen to some meaningless word in a song than a vulgar usage."