‘Shenbagame Shenbagame’ from the 1988 film ‘Enga Ooru Paattu Kaaran’ was another hit for Isaignani Ilaiyaraja.
Composed in the raaga Sindhu Bhairavi, the song is a solo which has three different versions for the film; the male version sung by Mano, a female version sung by Sunantha (below) and a sad female version sung by Asha Bhosle, one of the best known and highest regarded Indian playback singers who reportedly cried after listening to the tune.
Ilaiyaraja was very prolific in his use of the raga Sindhu Bhairavi in this song, distinctly showing the versatility of this raga. It is exploited to the point of its fullest use in a way that no other composer has yet been able to match.
Although this particular raga is extremely versatile, Ilaiyaraja has used it in way in which it evokes feelings of empathy and melancholy; however he has set it to lyrics in a song that is not limited to these feelings only. Typical of Isaignani, many different colours and emotions are intricately woven with the flute and violin parts in this piece.
An almost meditative quality overwhelms the listener who is lost in the eloquent poetry of the lyrics written by Ilaiyaraja’s brother, Gangai Amaran.
“Un paadham pogum paadhai naanum poga vandhene
un mele aasaipattu kaathu kaathu ninnene
un mugam parthu nimmadhiyaachu
en manaam thaano vaadidalaachu"
(My footsteps follow yours, I waited and waited filled with desire, seeing your face brings me inner peace although my soul weakens.)
In the fast pace of new movies and songs, many old songs are forgotten or lost and there is a reason why songs from that era composed by Isaignani are called evergreen gems – they are invaluable, irreplaceable and inimitable.