Unaccompanied by a background score, a trip down the memory lane often feels incoherent. It is as if most of my childhood memories are unwittingly a homage to the music I grew up with. Maybe because beyond the nostalgia it evokes, every piece of music from my childhood exists as pieces of a puzzle, so vivid and distinct from one another, effortlessly blending in to carve a deeper sense of identity in me.
As a 90s kid, seamlessly looping Bombay's theme and vibing to the charm of Rangeela felt like an everyday affair. Unconventional tunes effortlessly took form and harmoniously grew into unique compositions. Witnessing such pure creation was, simply put, enlightening. Little did I know that this feeling I held on to like an exquisite personal possession made me part of a full-blown national phenomenon which later came to be identified as 'Rahmania'. It is in fact this unending thirst for A R Rahman's music that brought the understated 'Nila Kaaigiradhu' (from Suhashini Maniratnam's Indira) into my viewfinder .
Featuring Anu Hasan and Aravind Swamy, Indira was a simple and beautiful film. The song, resonating with the film, felt almost like a graceful touch, an embrace of simplicity. It unravels in us a yearning for a life filled with meaning, where it is often in the simplest of things that our happiness lies. I didn't know until then that a song could feel this personal, like a gesture of compassion or even affection; which is precisely why 'Nila Kaaigiradhu' is still an elegant solitaire, one that cannot be replicated.
Settled cosily on an awkwardly built window nook in my bedroom, I remember watching the monsoons reach Kerala through misty-eyed glass panes while listening to Hariharan's magical voice sing 'Nila Kaaigiradhu' on my grey Sony Aiwa Walkman; a time when time felt endless. Today, as I try in vain to keep up with time, it still evokes a multitude of nameless emotions in me.
As he began, 'Nila Kaaigirathu, Nirem Thaigirathu, Yaarum rasikevilaiyea, Intha kangal mattum unnai kaanu'; I felt truly special – as if I am the sole soul who managed to meander through the mesmerising beauty of the passing night to truly understand and relish it in quiet stillness, like that glowing ray of sparkling sunlight weaving its way through the cool monsoon shower. Even with a shade of hurt and sadness, I could feel a deep sense of fulfilment hidden inside the tenderness of that song.
For me, the song holds the secret to the purest form of love. A love akin to Nature's heartbeat in the blossoming garden Earth is ('Intha bhoomiye poovanam'). A love that is as uncomplicated as being engulfed by moonlight. Something so simple and hence, alas, easily dismissible. Reminiscent of the sun that never fails to shine ('Veyil kaayum kaayum, Athil maatram ethum ilaiye'), love is an enigma that seems so ridiculously around us, tirelessly waiting for us to notice. Like a gentle breeze caressing us, like the smiling gardens ('Thendral pogindrathu, Solai sirikindrathu') we pass by. Every day instances brushing through the periphery of our senses like a bond we took for granted.
Yet, it always leaves me with a feeling of freedom and even as I move to the next song on my playlist, somehow, the tranquility remains. Much like Arlette tells Andrea in Call My Agent!, "When things go wrong, we'll always have the movies", I am certain Nila Kaaigirathu will always be my home, my safe haven – one that feels tantalizing and peaceful at the same time.