M. BALAGANESSIN measures the success of `patti mandram' with Dindigul Leoni.
DINDIGUL I. LEONI perhaps needs no introduction. Adding extra vigour, he has revolutionised "patti mandram", deftly handling an alloy of humour and awakening people from all walks of life towards one common responsibility - upholding values with a sense of fraternity and equality.
With a profound concern for various issues plaguing the modern day society, Leoni is confident of converting `patti mandram' into a constructive ideology and fanning out to people.
According to him, lyrics - and lyrics alone - have a great impact and cascading effect on the masses to bring about a radical social transformation.
"My experiments over the years with the audience prove that time will not batter away quality lyrics. Did you observe the impact the lyric, `Paattum naanea, Bhavamum naanea' today had on my audience?" he asks with a pride.
The quality of lyrics should not be diluted. Masses have an everlasting urge for quality.
The hard realities of life, issues challenging the youth, evils of gender-bias and deteriorating human values are some of the core themes of `patti mandram'.
"I handle the topics with lucidity through simple but forceful expressions. My efforts are further simplified through interspersed references to Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram's lyrics. Kalayansundram worked for the uplift of the masses, especially working classes. Making even the unlettered understand a complex theory was the hall mark of his phrases".
Leoni is not a staunch supporter of film songs of yesteryears.
"The point is lyricists should play a vital role in leading the society towards a better direction. The audience does not demand alien phrases to be thrust on them. Sidelining native tastes will not succeed in the long run. People still have an urge for lyrics with a message - as in the case of the latest lyric `un samal ariyil naan uppa? sakkaria? Or "Ovvoru pookkalum solgirathae," he observes.
Every patti mandram has been an experiment for him and he has evolved a common theory over the years: "Patti mandram in olden days pertained to topics from epics like the Kamba Raamayanam.
But, such debates could attract only limited number of people and erudite scholars. That did not benefit the common masses who is my target".
His maiden attempt at Marudamalai in 1999 when he referred to literature, created a flutter among the organisers who suspected him to be "an impersonator of Leoni". Over the years, patti mandram has gained popularity.
"But here too, the topics should not be diluted. Or else there will be a time when a patti mandram will have to discuss `tea or coffee'. The need of hour is to shift the focus towards people-oriented issues," feels Leoni.
Women's rights is another core area of concern for him.
"Ridiculing women has become the order of the day.
"Will a father prefer to describe his daughters as `a figure'?" he ponders, with a tone of concern.
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