The boundaries..!!

I recently came across a trailer of a new Malayalam movie, “David and Goliath“, it had a song from ‘Kavalam Narayana Panikker’, but something was amiss. The song was “Athiru kakkum” a song which sounds and has lyrics similar to folk songs. I had heard the song in the movie “Sarvakalasala. A landmark campus movie with just a thin plot which released during what is called as the Golden era of Malayalam cinema. For a long time, I had thought the movie was directed by my favorite director Late Padmarajan, but it was in fact Late Venu Nagavalli who had scripted and directed it.

Anyways, this post is about that song, so I hadn’t liked the version of “David and Goliath” and I heard the old version again sung and immortalized by “Nedumudi Venu” in his drunkard manner which is true to its folk style, rather than the more sober new age version. I had first heard during my teenage years and I hadn’t given it much ear to its meaning and style. but just the catchy rhythm.

Here, I want to try translating it to English.  The character of Nedumudi Venu sings it with an ‘existential nihilist’ attitude. He talks to the protagonist about two kinds of “Thalam” or Rhythm, “Jeeva Thalam” meaning ‘Rhythm of life’ and “Shava Thalam” ‘Rhythm of death’ or more literally, ‘Rhythm of a cadaver‘. He then sings this song. It actually talks about these two rhythms, beginning with birth of life and ending with death and in the middle, the confusion of life.

The song and the Malayalam script and its English transliteration goes as follows

അതിരു കാക്കും മലയൊന്നു തുടുത്തേ
തുടുത്തേ തക തക ത
അങ്ങ് കിഴക്കത്തെ ചെന്താമര കുളിരിന്‍റെ ഈറ്റില്ല   തറയില്‍
പേറ്റ് നോവിന്‍ പേ രാട്ടുറവ ഉരുകി ഒലിച്ചേ തക തക ത   

ചതിച്ചില്ലേ നീരാളി ചതി ചതിച്ചില്ലേ 
ചതിച്ചേ തക തക ത 

മാനത്തുയര്‍ന്ന   മന കോട്ടയല്ലേ 
തകര്‍ന്നെ തക തക ത 
തകര്‍ന്നിടത്തൊരു തരി തരിയില്ല പൊടിയില്ല 
പുകയുമില്ലെ തക തക ത 
മാനത്തുയര്‍ന്ന  മന കോട്ടയല്ലേ
തകര്‍ന്നെ തക തക ത 
തകര്‍ന്നിടത്തൊരു തരി തരിയില്ല പൊടിയില്ല 
പുകയുമില്ലെ തക തക ത 

കാറ്റിന്‍റെ  ഉലച്ചിലില്‍ ഒരു വള്ളി കുരുക്കില്‍ 
കുരലൊന്നു മുറുകി 
തടി ഒന്ന് ഞെരിഞ്ഞു
ജീവന്‍ ഞര……ങ്ങി  താ….ക താ…..ക താ……

Athirukaakkum malayonnu thuduthe
thuduthe thaka thaka tha
angu kizhakkathe chenthamara kulirinte eettilla tharayilu
pettunovin peratturava uruki oliche thaka thaka tha

chathichille neeraali chathi chatichille chathiche thaka thaka tha

maanathuyarnna manakkottayalle
thakarnne thaka thaka tha
thakarnnidathoru thari, thariyilla podiyilla
pukayumille thaka thaka tha

maanathuyarnna manakkottayalle
thakarnne thaka thaka tha
thakarnnidathoru thari, thariyilla podiyilla
pukayumille thaka thaka tha

kaatinte ulachilil oru valli kurukkil
kuralonnu muruki thadi onnu njerinju
jeevan njarangi thaka thaka tha

As I mentioned, the first para deals with birth,

The mountain which guards the boundaries went blushing
went blushing thaka thaka tha..
Like a red lotus from the eastern frontiers,
in the labor room of pain, the vaginal fluids softened and went flowing thaka thaka tha

In the first line, the poet, likens the belly of a pregnant lady to a boundaries of a mountain, The blush/color/red-lotus signifying the arrival of sunrise/birth/life..

In the second and third para deals with life and it has a generally nihilist, pessimist attitude.

was cheated, the octopus cheated, 
oh it cheated, thaka thaka tha..

Just like a dreamt castle that rose up in the sky,
it crashed thaka thaka tha
At ground zero, not a trace, not a grain, not a dust
not even smoke thaka thaka tha…
 

The believer feels cheated, he is slowly turning out to be a nihilist, he is understanding that there is no form of existence in a metaphysical sense.

In the shivering of winds, in the knot of creepers,
the windpipe got squeezed,
the body wriggled
and life ebbed away.. thaka thaka tha..

The last para dwells in death, the final breathe and the state of rhythm, becoming a ‘rhythm of cadaver’ from ‘rhythm of life’

 -Santhosh K Ramachandran

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