Andha Naal Gnyabagam- Music in my college days (Part 1)

The North American chapter of my undergraduate alma mater, PSG Tech, is organizing a grand music show with singers from our college music club, TekMusic on the 8th of February. As the date approaches, I am looking forward to meeting friends, old and new. What I am also excited for is an evening of wonderful music. The anticipation got me reminiscing about those wonderful college years and the music that served as its backbone.

Back in the day, TekMusic was the team to beat in all inter-collegiate music events across the state of Tamil Nadu. This legacy of excellence by TekMusic has stretched across decades now. As I talk to fellow alumni from years past and present, I hear of how much TekMusic was a part of their college memories. I am no different. TekMusic captured the zeitgeist of what was popular then in tamil cinema but also songs that were timeless to the college going crowds.

Music by its very nature assumes a special spot in one’s college life. The gentle shift from a life devoid of responsibilities to one with a job or admission to a higher education is made all the more richer by the music of the times. As we make our way through the four or five years, mere adolescents, we build relationships that last a lifetime. Music is the one constant that captures that era in full glory. Some of the songs of the day may seem trivial or childish to the rest of the world. But for the group of friends who sat around a 8×10 hostel room talking through the night, it meant so much more. And then there are those songs that echoed through the hostel corridors for their anointed few weeks of popularity until they got replaced by the next big thing.  This 4 post series attempts to capture but a few of those songs, big and small, classic and trivial of those four years I spent in college. As a lead up to the event, I hope to take the reader on a journey down their own college days and the songs that blared from the old radios in the hostel.

PSG Tech hostel

1996-97

I joined PSG Tech as a fresh faced kid in the summer of 1996. The Maestro Illayaraja was starting to be eclipsed by the new Isaipuyal (musical storm) A.R.Rahman. Other music directors like Sirpi, S.A.Rajkumar, Deva, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Karthik Raja were jostling for a third spot in the popularity charts. There were one hit wonder pieces as there were huge hits that lasted a life time.

As I entered college, Kadhal Kottai was all the rage. The songs were everywhere. The soft at heart were into Kalamellam Kadhal Vazhga and Nalam Nalam Ariya. For me there was Vellarikka. For those who were trying to get through the first of many failed crushes, there was Deva belting Kavalaipadadhe. As the year progressed, Vidyasagar struck gold with Priyam and the one song, Dilruba was all the rage in college for all the right and wrong reasons.

The very first movie I saw with friends from college was Kadhal Desam. A comically bad movie, it featured chart busting tunes by ARR. One of the songs, Mustafa Mustafa went on to become the most popular song in my 4 years in college and also the song that every academic year ended with.  It would not be a stretch to call it the college anthem of my day.


The rest of 1996 had some hits from Mr.Romeo of which Thanneerai Kadhalikkum and Mellisaye had some legs. A surprise hit came in the form of Un Uthattoram from Panchalankurichi.

The dawn of 1997 brought with it a lot of good music. Iruvar kicked off the year with ARR showing some unique touches. For the college folks, this didn’t make a big impact because it just didn’t feel youthful enough. The first big college hit for the year was “Minsara Kanavu”. Vennilave was the anthem for a few months and the other songs got a lot of play time everywhere in the hostel.

Like with every Rajini movie, his 1997 biggie Arunachalam got a lot of play time. The movie didnt do as well as anticipated but for the Rajini starved masses, it was something to watch and listen to. Deva had some popular tunes like Athanda Idhanda and Singam Ondru.

Exam time was kicking in as was the time to say goodbye to the final year students. Mustafa made the rounds a lot but the new songs also got some playtime. Of note were the ones from Love Today, a college going crowd favorite and Ullasam with a young Ajith and some rocking tunes by Karthik Raja. Love Today boasted an awkward but popular Enna Azhagu while Ullasam had the Kamal sung Muthe Muthamma.

In the next post, I will spent time reminiscing on songs that made it big in my second year of college, 1997-98.

I am adding all the songs featured in these 4 posts and some more in a public Youtube playlist. You can find it here.

Posts in this series:

Andha Naal Gnyabagam- Music in my college days (Part 2)

Andha Naal Gnyabagam- Music in my college days (Part 3)

Andha Naal Gnyabagam- Music in my college days (Part 4)