A few days back, I was talking to someone about Mohan (the actor) and ended up wondering what was my favorite Mohan song. It is a very difficult question whose difficulty is enhanced when the SPB-Ilayaraja filter is applied. First, there is ‘Ilaya Nila’ where the Flute sways in harmony with the Electric and Bass Guitars in the second interlude. Then, we have ‘Sangeetha Megam’ which is one of those Raja songs which gives you so much joy even in the first listen. Thinking of joy, there is the legendary ‘Paatu Thalaivan Paadinal’ where SPB’s singing of the Pallavi matches the drunken antics of Mohan that lead to the song.
And it was not only the happy songs. There’s so much melancholy in say a ‘Nilaave Vaa’ which portrays the dynamics of the Mohan-Revathy marriage. She is the ‘Nila’ (the distant moon) and he sings in yearning for her. Then, we have the legendary ‘Pyaasa’ tribute ‘Naan Paadum Mouna Raagam’ and the tragic ‘Vaigariyil Vaigai Karayil’.
Overall it is really hard to zero in one song from this trio. Hence, I came up with the following shortcut which is one of the very few songs that Yesudas sung for Mohan. This is one of those songs where you don’t need any instruments and the tune will hold up on its own. Don’t let the video spoil your experience of the song and if you do make it till the end, there is S. Janaki singing like a child! 🙂
The 1996 movie ‘Gokulathil Seethai’ explored this intriguing question in a fairly convincing way. In this post, let me draw your attention to an extraordinary musical moment in it — ‘Gokulathu Kanna’.
At a high level, this song considers the scenario in the title. Nila (Suvalakshmi) is the stand-in for Sita and wonders what she is doing in Gokulam (actually referring to Rishi’s (Karthik) house). By the second stanza, she describes Rishi’s womanizing and drinking habits (with a secret admiration for him). Let’s pause for a moment on these two lines:
This is the exact time when Rishi enters the frame of the celebration and guess what? He is carrying a glass of alcohol (a perfect sync!).
Rishi then launches onto the next stanza and now it is obvious that he has feelings for Nila. But still there is an air of indecisiveness, which is cleared when Manivannan (playing Rishi’s dad) launches into the next stanza. In particular, he asks him to leave all his bad habits (see the following lines), reassuring that Sita is the right one for him.
கோகுலத்து கண்ணா கண்ணா
கோகுலத்தில் சீதை வந்தால்
Overall, this song shows us three things:
- Nila’s respect and admiration for Rishi, hinting that it could turn into love.
- Rishi’s feelings for Nila and his indecisiveness, since he is portrayed as a Man-Child.
- Manivannan’s approval for Nila and Rishi’s togetherness.
This, indeed is the crux of the movie (from what-we-saw-so-far to what-we-will-see) and is causally tossed off as yet another song. Unsurprisingly, this is what makes this song endlessly fascinating to analyze!