Chat “Writing for Maniratnam is special,” avers lyricist Vanamaali, who penned lyrics for the director’s new movie ‘ Kadali’

When he was offered the single card as a lyricist for a Maniratnam-A.R. Rahman movie, thanks to dialogue writer Sri Ramakrishna, it was like a dream come true for Vanamaali. The popular lyricist has written all the seven songs for Maniratnam’s forthcoming Kadali . Debutants Gautham Karthik (son of yesteryear hero Karthik) and Thulasi (daughter of actress Radha) feature in this romantic saga, set in a fisherfolk backdrop. The songs are already popular among the music lovers. Vanamaali believes in decent presentation of lyrics and never crosses his limits. Perhaps this endeared him to such a master craftsman as Maniratnam. Vanamaali says it is not easy to please the veteran director either. For every lyric he asks the meaning of each word and demands alternatives if he feels the sound does not sync with the original version. “It is a challenging job to write for such a hard task master. He told me not to bother about the lip sync, but to keep the original expression intact (lyrics from the Tamil Kadal ) while writing the Telugu version, of course retaining the native flavour. Even A.R. Rahman preferred the original sound to be retained. However, I was given the freedom for one song,” smiles Vanamaali as he narrates his experience with Maniratnam and about writing lyrics for Kadali , “It is my first film with the ace director. He narrated briefly the story and then explained the background for each song. He suggested some changes and picked up from the alternative verses which I gave him. One such alternative that he selected was the line Gunjukunna ninnu yedha loke instead of the first version Gundelone ninnu mudivesa . The Tamil song starts with the word Nenjikulle …and the director wanted similar sound, hence the word Gunjukunna … The entire line goes thus, Gunjukunna ninnu yedalokeInka ennallaki eederuno ee bathuke . The girl gives expression to her strong bonding with her lover and there are such alluring lines, rendered by Shakthisree Gopal, Guvve musugesinde…raavake (ravi aaku) kunikinde…palemo perugula indhake vadukunde…rasakurupunnolle nidaroye velallona asakurupochi yeda ara nimisham nidarode …’ It took me a lot of time to arrange the words and it is my favourite song too.”

He continues, “In another song, I wrote nindu jaabili for the Tamil Chithirai nila . But the director preferred Chitti jaabili and it sounded apt when heard from the voice of Vijay Yesudas. Since the love story is set in a fishermen community in interior Tamil Nadu, in the original version, the Tamil spoken in those areas was employed. Manirathnam asked me to follow the pattern of the original version, retaining the Telugu nativity. So I picked up words of common usage in such communities from Visakhapatnam and surrounding areas. The hero imagines his lady love to be a mermaid and himself a fish, while fishing in the high seas and sings, Yele jelle sikkinde … Rahman’s rendition gave it a fresh feel. It is very difficult to write for such a tune. There is so much of vaividhyam (variety) in it, which defies the popular concept of pallavi and charanam and travels in different but attractive directions.”

About another song, Yaadike Yaadike nannu theesukelthav …, he says, “The song expresses the heart beat of a lovelorn youngster. These tender feelings breathe life in singer Siddhardh Sriram’s rendition.

The hero is brought up in nature’s lap. The girl shows him another world. Love changes the ruffian boy into a kind-hearted person. He tells her that nature and she are enough for him, and the duet (by Abhay Jodhpurkar and Harini) follows, Pachani thota…pasarula thavi… niseedhi mounamnee premaganam … In this lyric I could bring in Telugu nativity in its real colour.”

A special attraction is the song on Jesus, Nee vallane naa ee vuniki… mamathe neevule ,’ filmed on Aravind Swamy and children. Says he, “Incidentally, it is also my first song on Jesus Christ. Haricharan’s emotional rendition enriches the song. Nenu magidimi… nuvvu paamu is set in a Western tune. Rahman rendered the word magidi (the instrument played by a snake charmer) in different styles, while the song was sung by Chinmayi, Tanivi Shah, Aryan Dinesh and Kanakanathan.”

It was also a rewarding experience to spend time with the maestro A.R. Rahman, says Vanamaali.

“He was present for a couple of songs at the recording theatre and gave suggestions and corrections. At the end of the day, what mattered was that both Maniratnam and Rahman felt happy with my lyrics, and their praise is like a Life-Time Achievement award for me.”