This posts explores various themes in love poems of Sangam literature and presents few movie situations which are very similar to these themes.
அன்னை அறியினும் அறிக; அலர்வாய்
அம் மென் சேரி கேட்பினும் கேட்க;
பிறிது ஒன்று இன்மை அறியக் கூறி,
கொடுஞ் சுழிப் புகாஅர்த் தெய்வம் நோக்கி,
கடுஞ் சூள் தருகுவன், நினக்கே; கானல்
தொடலை ஆயமொடு கடல் உடன் ஆடியும்,
சிற்றில் இழைத்தும், சிறு சோறு குவைஇயும்,
வருந்திய வருத்தம் தீர, யாம் சிறிது
இருந்தனமாக, எய்த வந்து,
‘தட மென் பணைத் தோள் மட நல்லீரே!
எல்லும் எல்லின்று; அசைவு மிக உடையேன்;
மெல் இலைப் பரப்பின் விருந்து உண்டு, யானும் இக்
கல்லென் சிறுகுடித் தங்கின் மற்று எவனோ?’
என மொழிந்தனனே, ஒருவன். அவற் கண்டு,
இறைஞ்சிய முகத்தெம் புறம் சேர்பு பொருந்தி,
‘இவை நுமக்கு உரிய அல்ல; இழிந்த
கொழு மீன் வல்சி’ என்றனம், இழுமென.
‘நெடுங் கொடி நுடங்கும் நாவாய் தோன்றுவ
காணாமோ?’ எனக் காலின் சிதையா,
நில்லாது பெயர்ந்த பல்லோருள்ளும்
என்னே குறித்த நோக்கமொடு, ‘நன்னுதால்!
ஒழிகோ யான்?’ என அழிதகக் கூறி,
யான் ‘பெயர்க’ என்ன, நோக்கி, தான் தன்
நெடுந் தேர்க் கொடிஞ்சி பற்றி
நின்றோன் போலும் என்றும் என் மகட்கே.
தோழி செவிலித்தாய்க்கு அறத்தொடு நின்றது. – போந்தைப் பசலையார்
If mother finds out,let her.
And if this lovely little street with its loose mouths hears,let it.
Before the god at Pukar with whirlpools,
I swear this is all that happened.
In the grove,I and my garlanded friends played in the sea,
made little houses and heaped up play rice.
Then we were resting a bit,
waiting for our tiredness to go,
when a man came up and said,
“Innocent girls with round,soft arms as supple as bamboo!
The light of the sun has faded and I am tired.
Would there be anything wrong if I ate a guest’s meal
on a soft,open leaf,
and then stayed in your noisy little village?”
Seeing him, we lowered our faces,
and,hiding ourselves,we politely replied,
“This food is not for you.
It is moist fish,eaten only by low people.”
Then suddenly some one said,
“There,can’t we see the boats coming in
with their tall, waving banners?”
At that we kicked over our sand houses with our feet,
Of all those who were leaving,
he looked straight at me and said,
“O you who have the lovely face, may I go?”
so I felt I had ruined.
I answered, “You may,”
and he,staring at me all the while,
stood tall,holding the staff of his chariot.
Still it seems to be before my eyes.
Poet: Pontaip Pacalaiyar
Translated by George L Hart
As I said before the poem has multiple themes. The first one being the gossip theme which has been elaborately discussed in one of my previous blogs. The second theme being the first meeting of the hero and heroine. Third theme is flirtation of the hero and the final theme being Rich boy – Poor Girl love theme.
The Talaivi has just met Talaivan by chance, but unlike other Sangam poems where Talaivan meets Talaivi when she is alone or with just her closest friend(Panki), here the Talaivan meets her when all her playmates are together. This sparks doubt in the mind of Panki, What if the playmates tell it to their parents and the gossip spreads? So she puts it across to the Talaivai. There is an interesting thing here I would like to say.
In Sangam period each child born had two mothers. One the Birth mother and other being the foster mother who actually take care of the kids. Usually daughter of the Foster mother (Panki) is the friend the Talaivi and mostly the Panki is older than the Talaivi and usually has gone through the love experience herself. So she knows where Talaivi would falter and as a precaution she would poetically threaten Talaivi not to fall in love or after she falls in love pushes her to marry the Talaivan and end the secret affair.
The Beauty of Panki’s questions are that it poses a question which doesn’t arise suspicion in the Talaivi but gets the answer Panki requires. This question here can be looked in the same way,she ask what if your playmates tell about your affair to your parents? though this looks like very innocent question what Talaivi going to do for nothing of her mistake, the last few lines of the poem gives the answer that Panki really wants “he,staring at me all the while,stood tall,holding the staff of his chariot.Still it seems to be before my eyes.”
The Panki here wants to know wether Talaivi had fallen for the Talaivan after their first meeting. The answer looks like yes from the line “Still it seems to be before my eyes.”
One of the most frequent theme in Sangam literature is that sea shores being the place where Talaivan and Talaivi meet for the first time. The meeting is totally accidental. Here again some more light on the accidental meeting, the Talaivan and Talaivi are total strangers . They get impressed with each other and have sexual union after the Talaivan proposes. Their first sexual union happens spontaneously with burst of emotions. This is specifically named in Tholkappiyam as ‘Iyarkai Punarchi’ – The natural union. There are also cases where Talaivi rejects Talaivan the proposal .
From Talaivan points of view – He sees a beautiful girl with her friends, he has to make an impression. He has to catch her attention. He has to talk and attract a totally strange girl. Here Talaivan takes the bad boy approach. Typically human psych likes good villains than the heroes, the best latest example is joker of Dark Knight or more classical example Don Carleone and Micheal Carleone of Godfather or in Tamil most Rajni movies where he is bad guy(still he is the hero!). So typically if you are good at being bad you still attract people. Here the Talaivan just tries to be rude and yet flirting with the heroine. Lot of Tamil movies has this theme, the hero being a rouge yet girls love them. So Talaivan takes a different approach, rather than being nice good guy he tries to be bad and attract the girl and he is successful to an extent. So we do get to know the flirtation techniques of the past!(When I write about flirtation I just cant avoid thinking of Vandhiya Thevan of Kalki, Kalki would have made him beautifully flirt with all women he meets in Ponniyin Selvan).
Here we should also look deep into this line ‘so I felt I had ruined’, either the Talaivi is going to Kalachified (jibbed ) by her friends or the fear that her people might question her suspecting a relationship between Talaivi and Talaivan. This situation you can typically see in collages. A guy would try to approach a girl when she is with her friends. The guy will talk to the girl in a sloppy way. All her friends will know that the guy is trying to impress the girl and start ootifying(tease) the girl from then.
The final theme is favoruite theme of Tamil movies for decades. Rich boy – Poor Girl love (vice versa too in the movies). Here we come to know that Talaivi is of lower level of the society since they were fisher women. The Talaivan seems to be a rich man since he owns a chariot. Talaivan still seems to love Talaivi , the true character of of Iyarkai Punarchi , the love has no conditions and restrictions. It just comes in a second and after it comes the passion is beyond control.
One more line to look at is ‘he,staring at me all the while,stood tall,holding the staff of his chariot.’ The Talaivan has given one ‘Romantic look’ and Talaivi has fallen for it.
So I am going to sum up the various themes we have seen today,
Instantenous love (Madavan in Minnale and various other heros)
Love without Barriers( nearly all Tamil movies based on Love stories)
Girls falling for rough guys (Pokkiri for vijay , Most Rajni movies, Ullasam for Ajith, Bheema for Vikram, Aaru,Jillu Oru Kadhal for Surya…Classic amoung these examples Karthik-Revathi love in Mouna Ragam of Manirathanam)
Romantic look (Surely not Goundamani’s Romantic look)
Girl getting ashamed after guy talk to her in front of her friends( Very close one I can remember now is Shalaini feeling ashamed when Madhavan says the ‘nee alaga illa ‘ dialogue in front of her sister).
So directors if you run out of scripts for new love stories, please go back 2000 years. The sangam literature has fresh love stories and themes which can be easily made into Tamil movies.
Totally Strange people falling in love – Red earth and pouring rain: Powerful imagery
Love suddenly appearing in an instant – Madness of love Kuruntokai 136
Hero proposing to heroine – Offer from the Lover- Kuruntokai 1
Gossips – Gossips , Scandal and Elopement in Sangam Literature
Hero flirting with heroine – https://karkanirka.wordpress.com/2008/05/30/thiruvilayadal/
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