One thing which annoys me a lot is this trend of getting non-Tamil-speaking singers to sing Tamil songs.Now don't get me wrong. I am all for national integration and the such. But I do draw the line at having to listen to miserable pronounciations when there are scores of singers who can do the singing with correct pronounciations. Yes, even if the non-tamil-speaking singer in question is so gifted that his/her voice sounds like honey. Every time he/she mis-pronounces a word, I can only hear the sound of fingernails scraping against a blackboard.
I have heard my parents complain about this from time to time. The first time I noticed it for myself was when I heard the "snehithiye" song from "Alaipayuthey". I thought that though the tune was nice, it sounded curiously clipped. It took a while before I realized that this sound-effect was caused due to Sadhana "lightly" pronouncing the words (to mask that she was not comfortable singing in Tamil?). Till date, I can't listen to the song without wondering how it would have sounded if someone else who was more familiar with Tamil had sung it. Apparently, not everyone shared my opinion. I am not sure if this is true or not, but I think that the popularity of this song heralded the era of getting non-Tamil-speakers to sing Tamil songs.
Most of the songs of "ayutha ezhuthu" were spoiled for me - I think the "sanda kozhi" song was the most terrible of the lot. I know there are a lot of Sadhana Sargam fans out there - in fact, I too think she sounds pretty decent in Hindi. But in Tamil, I really dont think that her voice is such great shakes that it enhances a song in any way. If ath, for me, bad-enunciation of words decreases the desirability of a song. And I am not even a tamil phonetics expert.
Oh there are other singers too. Everyone must have heard of the ruckus created over Udit Narayan's "kadhal pisasey" song in "Run". I remember Shreya Ghosal murdering some perfectly nice lyrics in the "Elangaathu" song in "Pithamagan". And they both are two of my most favorite singers when they sing in Hindi.
My contention here is not that non-Tamil-speakers should not sing Tamil songs. By all means, they should do so. After all, its a matter of pride when people whose mother tongue is not Tamil express the interest and desire to sing Tamil songs. But, is it unreasonable to request all such singers to make sure that they get their pronounciations right before standing in front of the microphone? I understand that for most people it is impossible to get every word right in an alien language (heaven knows how I have to specifically remember that Hindi differentiates between "th" and "tth" or how I struggle with the French "e") - still, should'nt at least the basic stuff be got right? Pronouncing "zha" as "la", "pani" as "panni" is really not acceptable. When you are singing in any language I do think its necessary to show respect to the sensibilities of the native speakers of the language.