Madras 375 Chennai

Madras by day, by night and by song

In the songs of 'Kadhalikka Neramillai', director V. Sridhar attempted to depict Madras as a progressive place: where couples sang duets on the Marina

In the songs of 'Kadhalikka Neramillai', director V. Sridhar attempted to depict Madras as a progressive place: where couples sang duets on the Marina  

more-in

One of the first film songs on Madras city portrayed it as a city of vices. Many themes have emerged since, showing on screen the varied hues of the city, the latest being ‘The Madras Song’

For a long time in Tamil Nadu, cinema was the medium through which people of the State understood the people and the cultural life in Madras.

Two competing narratives of Madras were presented simultaneously in the movies: a city teeming with busy, but self-centred people, and a progressive city where the youth were liberated.

“There are not many songs that have Madras as their subject. But interestingly, Sivaji Ganesan’s statue on Beach Road stands exactly in the same place where the song, Nenjirukkum Engalukku, from Nenjirukkum Varai was shot,” says actor and film historian, Mohan Raman.

One of the first songs that tried to provide a commentary on life in Madras city was Madras Nalla Madras from the film, Anubavi Raja Anubavi (1967).

Looking lost in the city of vices, actor Nagesh, walking through a maze of cars, wondered why the city was full of injustice, houses were built like matchboxes and women dressed like men.

Years before its release, director V. Sridhar, had attempted to depict Madras — in the very first frame of Kadhalikka Neramillai — as a progressive place: where couples sang duets on the Marina.

In the years of liberalisation, Mani Ratnam introduced a certain nuance, presenting a sophisticated part of Madras, while Selvaraghavan, much later, showcased its dark underbelly.

Today, however, a number of themes have emerged about the city.

As if to change the notion that the city is conservative when compared to other metropolises, the Chennai version of American singer Pharrell Williams’ song, ‘Happy’, captured a new Chennai — one whose people are young and modern, dancing through densely populated neighbourhoods such as Adyar, Anna Nagar and Nungambakkam.

As if to suggest a few exciting options for those who think the city has very little to offer, ‘The Madras Song’, presented by Murugappa Group, in association with The Hindu, which has gone viral on social media, features a stranger coming to the city and exploring its food, the many people, Kanjeevaram sarees, the music and art, and so on.

It has convinced even those from the city that there is so much more to see than just Marina beach and Mylapore.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Madras and Chennai continue to be the darling of filmmakers and its residents alike, and there are references galore to this beautiful, crowded city by the beach.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 10:13:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/madras-375-madras-by-day-by-night-and-by-song/article6332571.ece

Next Story