Na Muthukumar was one of Tamil cinema’s leading lyricist; he has won the prestigious National Awards twice. His untimely death at the young age of 41 has sent the Tamil film industry into mourning.
Almost the entire industry including galaxy of writers, directors and top stars like Vijay turned up for his funeral. Muthukumar was very popular as he had made a refreshing change to Tamil film music with his simple lyrics, which were turned into many melodies that went on to be chart-busters.
Muthukumar had worked with the entire pantheon of top music directors like Ilaiyaraja, AR Rahman, Harris Jayaraj, Yuvan Shankar Raja, GV Prakash and many others who churned out hit after hits. He has written lyrics for nearly 1500 songs in the last 15 years.
For the last three years, he holds the record for penning the maximum number of Tamil film songs. He has about a dozen films coming up for release and is said to have also penned a song for Rajinikanth’s forthcoming Shankar directed 2.O under the baton of AR Rahman.
The lyricist created magic best with young music directors like Yuvan Shankar Raja and GV Prakash . Muthukumar songs could reach across to the youth, as he understood their pulse, whether it was a love failure song (Kadhal Valarthen from Manmadhan) or just plain romantic song (En Kadhal Solla from Paiyaa).
The youth loved his songs because it was easy to roll on the lips and was uncomplicated. Muthukumar was also a writer and had written the screenplay of a couple of films early in his career. He had also written Silk City, a novel based on four generations in Kancheepuram where he grew up.
Poet Vairamuthu wrote a moving obituary in The Hindu on Na. Muthukumar, “Fate has snatched away from us a lyricist who delved deep into literature. The Tamil film world has seen only a few lyricists who had a master’s degree in Tamil. In a short span he wrote many songs. In the life of a writer, the forties is a period that witnesses a transition from emotion to intellect. This is not an age to die, but an age of achievement.”
GV Prakash who has worked with him in almost all his films remembers, “I got launched with Veyil, whose songs were written by him. Muthukumar was sought after because his lyrics were simple yet descriptive. He could write a song to the tune I give and at times under an hour he had the lyrics ready for the situation in the film, which is fabulous. And his knowledge of Tamil literature made him a soulful poet.”
Another new generation popular lyric writer Madhan Karky, who was close to Muthukumar told Firstpost, “ Muthukumar has penned the maximum number of songs in the last decade. Most of them were hits. His songs used simple words to express a wide range of emotions that could connect to the present generation. Even in the last few months he was working on songs for many movies including Shankar’s Two Point O”.
Karky also pointed out that Na.Muthukumar was one of the few to raise his voice against royalty issues. He was against the policy to write off all rights. Karky remembers, “He once said to me that if I die one day, my family should receive the royalties for my songs. I hope it happens someday so that all musicians and writers will thank Muthukumar.”
Listen to Na Muthukumar's most popular songs (in no particular order):
- Veyilodu Vilayadi, Film: Veyil, Music Director: GV Prakash
2. Suttum Vizhi Chudare, Film: Ghajini, Music: Harris Jayaraj
3. Ballelekha, Film: Sivaji, Music: AR Rahman
4. Devathai Kanden, Film: Kadhal Konden, Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
5. Ninaithu Ninaithu, Film: 7G Rainbow Colony, Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
6. Adada Mazhai Da, Film: Paiyaa, Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
7. Ananda Yaazhai, Film: Thanga Meengal, Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
8. En Jeevan, Film: Theri, Music: GV Prakash
9. Aval Appadi Ondrum , Film: Angadi Theru, Music: Vijay Antony
10. Azhage Azhage , Film: Saiva