For a long time in Tamil Nadu, cinema was the medium through which people of the State understood the people and the cultural life in Madras. Two competing narratives of Madras were presented simultaneously in the movies: a city teeming with busy, but self-centred people, and a progressive city where the youth were liberated.
One of the first songs that tried to provide a commentary on life in Madras city was Madras Nalla Madras from the film, Anubavi Raja Anubavi (1967).
Looking lost in the city of vices, actor Nagesh, walking through a maze of cars, wondered why the city was full of injustice, houses were built like matchboxes and women dressed like men.
Years before its release, director V. Sridhar, had attempted to depict Madras — in the very first frame of Kadhalikka Neramillai — as a progressive place: where couples sang duets on the Marina.
In the years of liberalisation, Mani Ratnam introduced a certain nuance, presenting a sophisticated part of Madras, while Selvaraghavan, much later, showcased its dark underbelly.
Today, however, a number of themes have emerged about the city. Apart from the film songs there are lots of established/ amateur bands that came out with songs about Madras.