Kavignar Vaali

(1931-2013 / Srirangam, Madras Presidency / India)

Biography of Kavignar Vaali

Kavignar Vaali poet

Vaali (born T. S. Rangarajan) was a Tamil poet and lyricist who wrote Tamil poetry and film song lyrics. He has also acted in several films including Sathya, Hey Ram, Paarthale Paravasam and Poikkal Kudhirai. He was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri, India'a forth highest civilian honour.


Vaali, whose real name is T. S. Rangarajan, was born in an Iyengar family at Srirangam in 1931. His father's name is Srinivasa Iyengar and his mother is Ponnammal. He was an artist and he worked at All India Radio (AIR). He holds the record for having written most number of lyrics in Tamil. He has written lyrics for over 10,000 songs. He has authored many books such as Avathara Purushan, Pandavar Bhoomi, Ramanuja Kaviyam, Krishna Vijayam, Kalaignar Kaviyam, Krishna Bhakthan and Naanum Indha Nootrandum.

Vaali was adept in painting, which inspired his friends to give him the name “Vaali”.

Vaali Trivia

Vaali has not only written lyrics in pure Tamil, but all sorts of folk, hip – hop, rhythm and blues as well. He has also mixed other languages in Tamil songs. The legend goes that Vaali at one time in his life was contemplating suicide due to immense poverty when he heard the lines of the song “Mayakkama Kalakkamma” from the movie Sumai Thangi, penned by Kannadasan.

The lines “Unakkum keezhey ullavar kodi ninaithu paarthu nimmadhi naadu…” changed his mindset and renewed his determination to live a new life.

He has said that there were once 24 hours but no food to eat and next came a time when he had enough on the plate but no time to eat.

Actor Kamal Haasan had asked Vaali to pen the lyrics for a love song for the film Apoorva Sakotharargal. Kamal asked him specifically to pen a love failure song.

He penned the lyrics and gave them to him. But Kamal wasn’t satisfied as Vaali felt the depth of emotion conveyed through the lyrics failed to match the intensity of the situation in the film.

And so Vaali reworked his lyrics, until finally at his sixth attempt Vaali wrote the lyrics and angrily flung his writing pad and said, “Ithukku Mela Ennala Ezhutha Mudiyathu” ( “I cannot do better than this” ). This song, “Unnai Nenachaen Paatu Paaduchaen Thangamae Gnanathangamae…”, subsequently became a hit.


Civilian honours
Padmashri in 2007
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards
Vaali is a five-time winner of the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Lyricist
1970 – Engal Thangam
1979 – Ivargal Vidhyasamanavargal
1989 – Varusham Padhinaaru and Apoorva Sagodharargal
1990 – Keladi Kanmani
2008 – Dasavathaaram

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