May 19, 2007

Tamil vs Hindi Cinema: 8. Lyricists

This is one area which I am not knowledgeable enough to pass a comprehensive judgement on, since I can hardly follow the lyrics of poetic Hindi songs (e.g. in Fanaa). Nevertheless, let me try my best.

Tamil lyricists:

Thanks mainly to Kannadasan, very high standards were set for tamil film lyrics. Almost all his popular songs had excellent lyrics, and those aspiring to make it big in the industry wanted to emulate him. We were lucky to have a Vairamuthu ready to take over after Kannadasan, and continue the trend. Since 'Mudhal Mariyathai', he has won the national award for best lyrics 5 times. No words of praise are enough for him, and he continues to surprise us with his imagination, comparitive skill, humor, and at times, philosophy.

Following on his footsteps are talented and promising lyricists such as Na. Muthukumar, Thamarai and, Pa. Vijay (who won the national award for 'Autograph'), to name a few. Even Vaali comes up with a few surprises at times. Good quality tamil lyrics effortlessly flows from them, and despite the popularity of 'Kuthu' or 'Gaana' style songs, the quest for penning ever-lasting melodies is what gives them the ultimate satisfaction.

Hindi Lyricists:

Though they have a few very good lyricists in Gulzar and Javed Akhtar, the quality and the ethereal poetic purity are somehow inconsistent. Only Gulzar has won the national award, that too just once, for 'Ijaazat' long ago. Whenever I translate some of the gems of Vairamuthu or Na. Muthukumar to my Hindi-speaking friends, they have told me that Tamil poets' imagination is too good, romantic, and 'unimaginable'. Such quality exists only in Ghazals, which mainstream Hindi music somehow doesn't embrace much.

I think it is fair to hand over the victory to Tamil lyricists. This makes Tamil cinema lead Hindi 4-2.


Anonymous said...

Don't know much about lyricist. The only thing caught my attention about Vairamuthu was one of his lyrics in Anniyan - Anggal mazhaiyil naneynthal uyirgal undagom ;)


Anonymous said...

ops that was plural.
the correct one is "aan mazhaiyil nanaindhal uyirgal uruvagun" :D


Nagesh said...

Well may be based on awards you have given the vote to tamil industry, but i feel Hindi lyrics too have high quality most of the time.

Raju said...

Vikramadithya, yeah.. :) The first time I heard it, I almost jumped out of my seat.. Enna oru karpanai.. chance-ey illai..
Nagesh, I really wish you can understand Tamil, to appreciate the quality of songs penned by the lyricists I mentioned.. I didnt decide it just by the number of national awards.. it was merely a proof for the national acceptance.

NaiKutti said...

hey raju... yeah loooong time... hope ur post-doc at NY is going on well... its been more travel and hence more travelogues... have a few things to write upon, no time :)... hopefully can find a little more time to blog than before...

Raju said...

Karthik, yep long time indeed.. Things are OK with me.. Do visit often and blog often.. :)

Ponnarasi Kothandaraman said...

Invariably i seemed to have missed couple of ur posts :( Was busy with the last few days in college! :)

I have no idea about hindi songs or the lyricists ;) I have hardly heard them and even if i do, i dont understand anything @ all ;)

Good analysis! :)

Ponnarasi Kothandaraman said...

Forgot 2 ask, How r u? :D

Munimma said...

Kannadasan was not just a poet/lyricist, he was also a great philosopher and you can see the proof in his songs. There is so much depth in them, I don't think Vairamuthu is even close to that level. KD's works are timeless and there is no comparison.

Gulzar is one of my favorites in Hindi.

The fact is, hindi lyrics are not nearly as vulgar as tamil ones. But then there are some gems too, although they are becoming sparse.

Marutham said...

That is some indepth Analysis :)
Good post!

praveen said...

that would be right..these days many tamil song lyrics are still very flowery and poetic but only few hindi song lyrics boast of the same. My ever favourite "perunthil ni ennakku jannalorum" would be an example.

Raju said...

Ponnarasi, I am fine.. Thanks.. :)
Munimma, I agree with you about KD.. Cant forget 'Arthamulla Hindu matham'.. For this comparison, I consider only the current artists. True that VM has still some way to go, but IMHO, he is darn good.. And a few notches above the Hindi lyricists. I guess the Hindi romantic song-lovers are just satisfied with some sweet simple words..

e.g., the superb melodious song 'Mere haath mein' has fairly simple lyrics.. and even the peppy 'Chand sifarish'. Check out the translation here..
Marutham, thank you!! :)
Praveen, flowery and poetic are the right words to describe them.. Ur example is very apt.. full song having sweet comparison.. :) I love that song too...

Those of you who havent listened to/watched the songs, see it here..

kumar.s.r said...

Hi every body ,

Just name one Hindi Song without a Urdu word !


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I don't think you do understand hindi as well or have had enough exposure to it( by that I do not mean listening to dhoom songs)...
Ethereal quality of lyrics... Have you heard this song called "Tujhse naraaz nahi" or "Mera kuch samaan" or "woh kaagaz ki kashti" or "tum itna kyon muskura rahe ho, kya gham hai jisko chhupa rahe ho" and countless other gems... Maybe you could try "Yeh honsla" from dor, "aashayein", "pal", "yeh jo desh" , "yeh rishta kya kehlata hai", "ae ajnabi" from dil se and countless other newer songs which have easier to follow hindi and try figuring out if hindi movies have good lyrics or not, If you want some more complex lyrics, try ghazals and most of the stuff by gulzar ( they tend to be multi layered... )

You cant compare ur best ( vaali or vairamuthu) with zara zara touch me and say hindi movie lyrics aren't as good

by the way do try "apadipodu", "kannum kannum nokia, capuccino cofeeaaa, sofiaaa" et al

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