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SPB and songs of the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle

S P Balasubrahmanyam jots down lyrics while practising for Ulaga Manitham Thalaikal - 21st June 2007. Photograph: Oviar Pugazhenthi

Among the late, great S P Balasubrahmanyam's body of work, which spans over five decades and over 40,000 songs, were several enthusiastic contributions to the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle. Encompassing a variety of styles and speeds, Balasubrahmanyam frequently voiced the lyrics of Eelam revolutionary poets Puthuvai Ratnathurai, who was forcibly disappeared in May 2009, Kasi Ananthan and Joe Puradchi. We look back at a selection of SPB's Eelam liberation songs.

Operation Ellaalan

Balasubrahmanyam lent his voice to two tracks on an album marking 'Operation Ellaalan', the raid on Sri Lanka's Anuradhapura Air Force base carried out successfully by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The album was composed by Theivendran. Balasubrahmanyam sang the songs Allithinru (listen)written by Joe Puradchi, and Vaanathileri (listen) whose lyrics were written by Eelam poet Puthuvai Ratnathurai.



Thaayaga Manne (video above)

A song recorded for the Eelam film 'Ellaalan'. The lyrics to the song were also penned by Puthuvai Ratnathurai.


Karaikal Thazhuvum Kaatru (listen)

You who drove your chariots over the waves

You who became flames in the deep sea

The burning ocean has not cooled

The sorrows have not scattered

The departed Sea Tigers have not left our hearts

Peralaiyin meethinile therizhuthu ponavare

Aalkadalin meethinile theeyenave aanavare

Ventha kadal aaralaiye, vethanaikal theeralaiye

Senra kadal pulikal enkal nenchai vittu pokalaiye

பேரலையின் மீதினிலே தேரிழுத்து போனவரே

ஆழ்கடலின் மீதினிலே தீயெனவே ஆனவரே

வெந்த கடல் ஆறலையே, வேதனைகள் தீரலையே

சென்ற கடல் புலிகள் எண்கள் நெஞ்சை விட்டு போகலையே


Athu Yaar Alukaiyo/Chinna Chinna Veedu (listen)

A poignant call and response style song, where SPB roleplays the LTTE leader describing the idyllic childhoods of a liberated Tamil Eelam.

We will build small houses

And grow up on the terraces

We will tie swings to the mango trees

And forget our sorrows

This will all return to us

We will be kings in our nation

Chinna chinna veedu katti

Thinnaiyile naam valarvom

Mamarathil oonchal katti

Thunbankalai naam marappom

Meendu vanthu sernthidume

Thesathil arasarkal aavom

சின்ன சின்ன வீடு கட்டி

திண்ணையிலே நாம் வளர்வோம்

மாமரத்தில் ஊஞ்சல் கட்டி

துன்பங்களை நாம் மறப்போம்

மீண்டும் வந்து சேர்ந்திடுமே

தேசத்தில் அரசர்கள் ஆவோம்


Ulaga Manitham Thalaikal (listen)

It is not right to say an island

With two nations has just one

It is not wrong to kill the foe

That invades our land and kills us

Irandu thesam ulla theevai

Onru endraal sari alla

Mannai thinru emmai kollum

Pakaiyai kondraal pilai alla

இரண்டு தேசம் உள்ள தீவை

ஒன்று என்றால் சரி அல்ல

மண்ணை தின்று எம்மை கொள்ளும்

பகையை கொன்றால் பிழை அல்ல


Karum Puli Padai (listen)

Eelam is our homeland, reclaiming it our goal.

Eelam enkal thaayakam, meetpathu enkal latchiyam.

ஈழம் எங்கள் தாயகம், மீட்பது எங்கள் இலட்சியம்.


Should our people seek refuge across the world?

Or should we die as slaves in our rightful land?

Ulakam engum emathu makkal agathiyaaka povatha?

Urimaiyulla mannil naangal adimaiyaaka saavatha?

உலகம் எங்கள் எமது மக்கள் அகதியாக போவதா?

உரிமையுள்ள மண்ணில் நாங்கள் அடிமையாக சாவதா?


Ezhuchiyum Veeramum (listen)

A tribute song to the countless revolutionary poets and writers of the Eelam struggle, both fighters and civilians.

The Tamil Eelam revolution erupted from the fire in your lines.

Ungal ezhuththukkal neruppaana varikalai kondathaal thamileela puratchi vediththathe

உங்கள் எழுத்துக்கள் நெருப்பான வரிகளை கொண்டதால் தமிழீழ புரட்சி வெடித்ததே


Imran Paandian Padaiyani (listen)

A tribute to the Imran Paandian Regiment, the LTTE leader's personal security unit. From the album Eeddi Munaikal (pictured above).


Ethanai Ethanai Maaperum Vetrikal (listen)

An upbeat song with tongue-in-cheek lyrics praising the prowess and innovation of the Tigers.


Ungalai Engal Thesam Marakkuma (listen)

A song paying tribute to Tamil political prisoners in Sri Lanka and incarcerated around the world.


Iruthi Yuttham (listen)

An energetic track layered with folk rhythms, praising the Sea Tigers.


Naadengum Vaazhkinra Thamizha (listen)

A song calling on Tamils around the world to unite in the struggle for Tamil Eelam.


Ithu Puzhigal Vaanpadai (listen)

A tribute to the Tamil Eelam Air Force.

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