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The walking Google of Tamil film songs

By Dhanya Parthasarathy

CHENNAI, DEC. 16. B. Vijayakumar is the Google for 50 years of Tamil film songs. Hum the first two lines, and this human search engine is ready to tell you all you want to know about a song and didn't know whom to ask

``Tell me a song, and I will tell you the name of the film it appeared in, the producer, the director, the lyricist, the name of the lead singers, and most importantly the song's raga,'' says this 45-year-old employee of CMDA. His colleagues at work call him a `mini-computer'; he claims to know the details of nearly two lakh Tamil film songs.

Hum a few lines of the song Chinna Kannan Azhaikiran: his face tautens in concentration, his eyes turns into slits and in 2.1 seconds he has the answer. ``That is from the film Kavikuyil, the music director is Ilayaraaja, the singer is M. Balamuralikrishna, the raga of this song is Reethigowla and the film is directed by Devaraj Mohan," he says.

A quick verification finds that even Google can't match his level of accuracy in one go. This man with a passion for film songs fits naturally into the mould of a die-hard Kollywood fan with his strident speech and even bolder singing.

Take a song from the Sivaji Ganesan super hit Karnan. And Vijayakumar goes, ``Tut, tut, tut... What a song, what a song. Ullathil Nalla Ullam, music by Viswanathan-Ramamurthy in the raga Ahir Bhairav, sung by Sirgazhi. It is an art film, tut tut tut." He rattles off all the other songs and ragas of that movie, still lost in the beauty of the film tracks.

How about Thookanna Kuruvi Koodu? ``The film is Vanambadi, singer P. Suseela, with music direction by `Thirai Isai Thilakkam' K.V. Mahadevan, produced by Kannadasan, directed by G. OR. Nathan, the song is in the raga Suddha dhanyasi with Charukesi,'' Vijayakumar is on a roll.

How about songs of the younger generation? The Kalaynamthan Kattikitu Odi Polama... type of songs just don't stick in his head, he says. ``Where is the melody in that? Where is the life in the lyrics? The instruments have just taken over,'' he says.

``Only selected melodies stay in this computer", he says pointing to his head. He picks the rare songs he likes from this generation: Malarey Mownama is one ``... from the film Karnan in Darbari Kannada with music by Vidyasagar, Harish Raghavendra singing Nirpadhuve, in the film Bharathi in the raga Kalyani and Bombay Jayashri's Vaseegara in nata bhairavi with music by Harris Jayaraj.''

How does he do it? ``Radio Ceylon,'' he says. ``Forty years of listening,'' he adds proudly, and credits the rest to his knowledge of Carnatic music.

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