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P K Muthusamy, lyricist in centenary year -- not a burden to mankind

Updated by admin on Sunday, October 04, 2020 12:53 AM IST

Chennai: A struggling lyricist P K Muthusamy decided to try his hand at making a film! He began shooting the film Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum (The onset of Thai month will provide you a path of success), in 1958 but gave it up once he ran into heavy financial problems, and A K Velan who handled the story, dialogue and direction decided to take over the film production as well. Muthusamy's contribution to the film was just one song, a good one at that, Mannukku Maram Bhaaramaa (Will a tree be a burden to Mother Earth), but Velan raked in huge profits as the movie was a huge success. The film did provide Velan the way to success, as it provided him enough money to build a new studio, Arunachalam Studios in Saligramam, Chennai. Muthusamy also achieved fame, by making a sensational charge of plagiarism against former chief minister and his film-world colleague, M Karunanidhi !

Muthusamy continued to languish as a poor writer after his experience in Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum. A school dropout. he went on to write about 60 film songs, wrote plays, besides short stories, and Venba verses. In his later years, when he was no more active, he managed to eke out an existence in solitude in Pudupatti near Rasipuram in Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu.  Surviving on a Government pension of  Rs 1,500 a month, he managed to make his own food and live alone, his death coming a few days ago due to age-related ailments, at the age of 100. As in the case of several other lyricists, music directors and singers, the film industry has ignored his centenary.

The song Mannukku Maram Bhaaramma elevated him  to eternal fame, the song continuing to be popular even after 50 years.  Will a tree be a burden to Mother Earth, Will a leaf be a burden to a tree, Will a fruit be a burden to a tree twig, will a child ever be a burden to its mother.  So went the immportal pallavi. Sung by M S Rajeswari, one of her best numbers, it was composed by KV Mahadevan who backed Muthusamy with several other assignments.

He went on to write for the film,  Vazhi Piranthadu in 1964, a film directed by A. K. Velan, starring S. S. Rajendran, C. R. Vijayakumari and M. R. Radha. Muthusamy wrote the song, Veettukkaariyaa Kootti Vandhu sung by A L Raghavan and K. Jamuna Rani.

Chinna Chinna Nadai Nadandhu in the film Kaaveriyin Kanavan also came in for praise. 

'Kollai Kollum Muraiyile' was another song of Muthusamy, sung by Sirkazhi S Govindarajan and P Susheela in Periya Koil (1959), music KV Mahadevan.

He wrote two good songs for 'Ponnith Thirunaal' in 1960, Yen Sirithaay Ennai Paarthu, sung by PB Sreenivos, and KaNNum KaNNum sung by PB Sreenivos and P Susheela, music by K V Mahadevan.

However, it was his charge against Karunanidhi about four years ago at the age of 96 that had the world take notice of this poet-writer. Muthusamy claimed that had mentioned the storyline of the movie Marudhanaattu Illavarasi to Karunanidhi in 1949. This was then made into a film without his knowledge, using Karunanidhi's script. Later, Karunanidhi mentions about his script for Mandhiri Kumari in 1950, though there is no reference to Marudha Naattu Ilavarasi released two months prior to Mandhiri Kumari.
This movie was released on April 2, 1950, and was supposed to be third in the list of Karunanidhi-scripted movies.

While Karunanidhi claimed in his autobiography Nenjukku Needhi about how he had worked as script writer for two films Rajakumari (1947) and Abhimanyu (1948), his name did not appear in the credits for Abhimanyu. The credits of film Rajakumari acknolwledged his role only as assistant writer though he had done the script. There is no direct reference to a script for Marudha Naattu Ilavarasi around this time.

On the other hand, MGR in his autobiography Naan Yen Pirandhen, refers to the travails of Marudha Naattu Ilavarasi writes that the movie was earlier being made as ‘Kaali Dasi’, with singer M S Anuradha from Thanjavur as heroine. Late T.V. Chari, a shareholder of the production company, was responsible for story, script and direction. "Due to conflict of interests between him (Chari) and the producer of the movie, the company was dissolved. Later, another company, Govinda Company took charge and using a portion of the earlier film, prepared a revised story”, with Karunanidhi as script writer, A Kasilingam as director and VN Janaki as heroine, MGR had pointed out.
 
MGR went on to describe how Kalignar (Karunanidhi wrote the script at the mansion where he stayed along with the director. In the mornings, MGR, his brother MG Chakrapani, Kasilingam and Karunanidhi would review the script done. MGR pointed out that he was surprised by Karunanidhi's humility in pointing out flaws in his own script and asked the others to improve it. After discussions, a consensus was evolved on the script portions finalised from time to time. Two things were obvious from MGR's version, that there was an earlier story and script, and that later Karunanidhi was drafted to rework the script for the film released as Marudha Naattu Ilavarasi, on the request of producers and MGR.

Karunanidhi was also accused of plagiarism by a good friend of his, lyricist Kannadasan, who stated that his 'Kalai Nanbar' (Colleague in the field of Arts) had made a claim that he had contributed a portion of the script for the film Illara Jyothi, though he (Kannadasan) had done the entire script.

Whatever be the nature of the charge of Muthusamy against Karunanidhi, it was widely welcomed by the DMK leader's arch rival, J Jayalalithaa, who as chief minister in 2015 immediately announced relief for Muthusamy -- a grant of Rs 5 lakh as gift for his various Tamil works and Rs 5,000 monthly pension from Puratchi Thalaivar Dr MGR Trust.
However, no one else took notice of him. The film industry continued its neglect of the writer-lyricist. Towards the end, he lived in solitude. His death has come at the age of 100. Like his famous song, Mannukku Maram Bharaamaa, he made it clear that he did not wish to be a burden for mankind.

By R. Rangaraj  (the writer is President, Chennai 2000 Plus Trust)
 

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