Man of his word

Word power: Lyricist Arivumathi. Photo: R. Ashok   | Photo Credit: R_ASHOK

Every time the song “Muthamizhe, Muthamizhe…,” from the movie Raman Abdullah is played, apart from the mellifluous voice of S.P. Balasubrahmaniam to the mesmerising tune of maestro Ilaiyaraja, what strike are the lyrics. The song’s literary flourish unveils the poetic skills of Arivumathi, whose real name is Mathiazhagan.

He changed his name as a mark of respect to his classmate Arivazhagan in Annamalai University. “From those days as bench mates in the class room and roommates in hostel, our friendship remains thick,” he says.

After completing his PG, Arivumathi studied Epigraphy and Archaeology in Chennai and was instrumental in unearthing litterateur and poet Thirikoodarasappa Kavirayar’s palm manuscripts that gave an insight into the Kuravanji poetry. “I found the palm manuscripts in the poet’s ancestral home and handed them over to the department. It made big news.”

Poet Meera spotted him first and took him to renowned poet Abdul Rahman, from whom he learnt the art of writing Haiku. Arivumathi was also introduced to poet Leelavathi who had translated Japanese Haiku poems in Tamil.

Arivumathi entered films to widen his reach. Meeting directors like Bharathiraja and Bhagyaraj happened easily. “Both wanted me to join their team. But I chose Bhagyaraj as he was my contemporary and assisted him in four films.” Later he joined Balu Mahendra and worked with him in more than seven movies including Neengal Kettavai, Un Kannil Neer Vazhinthal and Veedu.

Arivumathi introduced director Bala, who was then an unknown entity, to Balu Mahendra and left for a new project. “I always wanted to become a director but fate decided otherwise,” he laughs. “I had full script and songs ready and had even named the movie Ullen Ayya but had to wind up as I could not find suitable actors. At that time actor Ajith used to frequent my place. I also got actor Devayani from Mumbai and did a photo shoot. But somehow things did not work out,” he adds.

However, his office on Habibullah Road in Chennai turned into a nesting place for many youngsters with dreams of making it big in tinsel town. Many of today’s top directors including Sundar C., Selvabharathy and Seeman and lyricists Na. Muthuukumar, Yugabharathi, Kabilan and Nandalala were groomed at this place and Arivumathi is respected as an elder brother in Kollywood today.

When his own project did not take off, he joined Bharathiraja as an assistant in Pudhu Nellu Pudhu Naathu and Kizhakku Cheemaiyile.

Uncompromising to the core, life became a struggle for Arivumathi. Then producer ‘Kalaipuli’ Thaanu offered him the chance of penning dialogues and lyrics for the movie Chiraisalai. ‘Chempoove…Poove…’ became an instant hit and offers started pouring in. By that time Bala wanted him to write lyrics for his debut movie Sethu. ‘Enge sellum intha paathai…’ happened. “I had no role in it. The pure magic of Ilaiyaraja worked to perfection,” he says.

A strong supporter of Sri Lankan Tamils, the Mullivaikal war put a full stop to his film career. “I decided against writing for films and concentrated more on working for the safety of my brethren in Sri Lanka.” But director Karu. Palaniappan brought him back to films. “Penning film scripts was a stress-buster for me.” Arivumathi has written more than 10 books including En Piriya Vasanthame, Niranthara Manithargal, Anbana Ratchasi, Pullin Nuniyil Panithuli, Vali and Natpukaalam.

He is currentlyworking on Thaippaal, a collection of rhymes for the new age children.

“I am soon going to bring out a musical CD too as director Bharathiraja, actors Sivakumar, Surya and Karthi have lent their voices,” he says.

He is also coming out with a collection of simplified verses from Sangam literature, Thanga Thamizh, which highlights Tamil cultural values. Trotsky Marudhu is doing the illustrations while George L. Hart, professor of Tamil language, University of Califonia, has written the foreword.

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Printable version | May 2, 2021 4:13:38 PM |

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