How ‘pokkiri’ and ‘makkiri’ sneaked into 'Padakali' song: Bichu Thirumala tells the tale

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No Malayali can ever forget the ‘war trumpet song’ by Thaipparambil Ashokan and Arashumoottil Appukkuttan in the movie ‘Yodha’. Mohan Lal and Jagathy Sreekumar had played the competition between the two characters so realistically that director Sangeeth Sivan even forgot to cut the scene. The all-time super hit song ‘Padakali chandi chankari’ was composed by A. R. Rahman to the lyrics by Bichu Thirumala.

Bichu Thirumala
Photo: Mathrubhumi

Though the song is so popular, majority of the singers often sing the lyrics wrongly, says Bichu Thirumala, the lyricist. “The context of the song suited devotional words like praising the goddess in her enraged figure. I remembered the book ‘Mahakshethrangalkku Munnil’ by the great poet Nalankal and recollected synonyms for goddess like ‘padakali’, ‘chandi’, ‘chankari’, ‘porkkali’, and ‘margini’. The song was in a comical mood, so that the listeners may not expect deeper meanings. But I was so particular that the lyrics should not be meaningless.”

Even the new generation enjoy the song very much. The song is a common number in the music shows. But the terms like ‘porkkali’ and ‘margini’ are wrongly pronounced as ‘pokkiri’ and ‘makkiri’, common funny names for a trouble maker. Only that makes the lyricist unhappy.

In an interview given to Club FM, Bichu Thirumala explained the lyrics with meaning. Both ‘padakali’ and ‘chandi’ means the Goddess Kali. ‘Chankari’ refers to Sankari, the wife of Sankaran aka Parama Sivan. ‘Porkkali’ is the one who is infuriated during the war, and ‘Margini’ means the one who leads the way. Unfortunately, everyone changed the names to ‘pokkiri’ and ‘makkiri’.

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