“Lightning, rain and storm... he should emerge from such a scene,” Meenakshi (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) describes the man of her dreams a few minutes into Rajiv Menon’s Tamil film Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000). And she gets just that in the film’s most melancholic track Enge Enadhu Kavithai. In the midst of a downpour, her lover emerges from a temple after being wed – but to another woman.

In Menon’s acclaimed version of Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility, Meenakshi and Sowmya (Tabu) are sisters whose descent into genteel poverty after they lose their family property tests their collective and individual resolve.

Meenakshi is far more free-spirited than her inhibited sister. Meenakshi quotes Tamil poet Subramania Bharati’s verses and fiercely speaks her mind, even if that means getting into trouble. When she is wooed by Srikanth (Abbas) in the middle of a storm earlier in the film, Meenakshi decides that the poetry-spouting man is the one. The two of them fall in love as a superb version of Bharati’s poem Suttum Vizhi Chuddar Than in Hariharan’s voice plays in the background. They converse mostly through the eminent poet’s verses until Srikanth leaves for Chennai, promising, but failing to, come back for her.

A better part of Enge Enadhu Kavithai takes place in a recording studio. Meenakshi’s lovely voice has finally led to a career in playback singing in Chennai. When she runs into Srikanth minutes before starting her recording, she realises that he is engaged to another woman. Meenakshi wipes off her tears and sings “Enge ennadhu kavidhai, kannavile ezhudhi maditha kavithai (Where is my poem, the poem I had written in my dreams). The lovely vocals are by Chitra, and the lyrics by Vairamuthu. Composed predominantly in the Sindhu Bhairavi raga, AR Rahman’s song blends the sounds of rain, the chorus in the studio, and the nadaswaram that is a reminder of Srikanth’s wedding.

As Meenakshi leaves the studio, she falls into an open manhole, devoured by the very rain that she once awaited. Family acquaintance Bala (Mammooty), who loves Meenakshi, is nearby and rescues her. One chapter ends and another one begins, which finally concludes well for Meenakshi.

Enge Enadhu Kavithai, Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000).