This is a story of a mesmerising piece of music rediscovered after almost two decades.
There was a Tamil movie called Auto Raja (1982), with Vijayakant in the lead. The music was scored by Shankar Ganesh, except for one song - Sangathil Paadatha Kavithai - which was composed, set to music and sung by Maestro Illayaraja. The song sank without a trace along with Shankar Ganesh's mediocre songs in the movie.
After a few years, Director Balu Mahendra wanted the Maestro to use the same tune and music in a song for Olangal, a movie he was making in Malayalam.
This song Thumbi Vaa, became a huge hit. But neither this nor the Tamil original was popular in Tamil Nadu.
But things suddenly changed in 2005. Illayaraja conducted a live programme in Chennai. He sang the song (only humming) accompanied by one of the most brilliant orchestral performance by his troupe.
I saw the programme in Jaya TV and was mesmerised by the song. In fact, the entire Tamil Nadu really 'heard' the song for the first time. It has become so popular now that a jewellery house has used the tune for its advertisement.
I came across the clipping of the live performance of the song by Illaiyaraja in Chennai. He doesn't sing the song, but humms it, accompanied by his orchestra in all its grandeur. A definite must. This is in YouTube, uploaded by SaiSachin.
Here it is. It is one of my favourites.
How to play the clip: Allow the video to download at least 75 per cent before playing (watch the horizontal red bar below the clip). If the clip starts playing immediately, click the pause button and allow the horizontal bar to complete at least 75 per cent. Click the play button.
Here is the link for the Tamil original from Auto Raja. As this song is rarely available, the music quality may be bad.
And here is the super-hit Malayalam version sung by Janaki.