The Irattaikkilavi Song

September 24, 2015, Chennai

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Vairamuthu - The Irattaikkilavi SongThose of us who have had the fortune of studying tamil grammar know what irattaikkiLavi means.


It is pronounced 'rettaikkiLavi' and is written as 'irattaikkiLavi' .

A rettaikkilavi always has an even number of syllables and can be evenly split into two identical words. The catch is that these two words by themselves have no meaning.

'gamagama' for instance refers to 'aroma'; the words 'Gama' and 'Gama' do not mean anything; however the phrase 'Gamagama' refers to a nice aroma!

Similarly 'gabagaba' is used in the context of 'aghora pasi' or ravenous appetite. 'salasala' refers to the sound of water.

There is no sense in splitting a rettaikkilavi. And splitting is just plain wrong.

By now, readers must have guessed what I am talking about. Yes, it is the timeless song 'kannodu kanbathellam from 1998.

Vairamuthu cleverly uses the idea of rettaikkilavi in the context of twins, or in the context of an illusion of twins being created in the plot of the film jeans.

The words
'salasala salasala rettaikkilavi
thagathaga thaga thaga rettaikkilavi
undallo tamizhil undallo'

The next line defines the grammar of rettaikkilavi.

'pirithu paarthaal porulum illai
pirithu vaithal nyayam illai
onrallo irandum onrallo'

(There is no sense in splitting a rettaikkilavi; splitting it is plain wrong. Arent both the same?"

The idea of using rettaikkilavi as a metaphor to explain the idea of two characters being one and the same is just brilliant.

It brings back memories of Tamil grammar from the State Board Tamil textbooks.

And for those who didn't study famish ilakkanam in school (and have missed something very special)  a simple lesson in Tamil grammar doesn't hurt.

About the author

Kanniks Kannikeswaran
www.kanniks.com