I have rarely liked Tamil cinema, though I have thoroughly enjoyed the music therein. Nevertheless, exceptions exist, and this particular one is brilliant in what is depicted, as well as in the music woven into this scene. Shivaji Ganesan was at one of his best performances in this movie. What I liked in this scene (and Karna is one of my favourite characters in the Mahabharata) is the sheer arrogance that Karna portrays when he is unfazed at the departure of his charioteer. NTR was always the best Sri Krishna in cinema (so much so, that I am told he was actually worshipped in AP where people would offer him an aarti every day or so it goes). I would like to thank sandycec for sharing this. The song's (sung in the raspy voice of Seergayyi/~zhi Govindarajan) meaning is as follows (thanks to my dear friend for sharing this with me): (Corrections welcome)
Ullathil nalla ullam
Vallavan vaguthadhadaa, Karna
The most beautiful amongst souls
Shall never fall to the fatal tell of time
Thus, say the greatest of men, Karna
Prepare for the fate that shall be thine.
You aren't a son unto your own mother (referring to Kunti's desertion)
And not a brother to each of your sibling (the Pandavas)
Oh! How you bore the insinuations!
I too shall be your sinner by my cunning. (The ploys Krishna uses to bare Karna)
KaNNan paNi seyya
He who is served by the greatest kings
(That) Krishna, to serve you, is ready
By bowing to your magnanimity.
Karna, will you grace me with mercy?
Seraatha idam sairndhu
Vanjaththil viyinthayadaa, Karna
To repay the hand that fed you
You pledged your loyalty to the vile Kauravaa
And fell in the trap of great deception, Karna.
(Though) the greatest knave is the son of Vasudeva.
The roles of Karna and Krishna have always amazed me and leant me fodder for several clever debates with religious fanatics as well as those who love calling themselves atheists (such merriment one finds in hopping on either side of the debate!! :-D ). For all the virtue that Krishna claims (point is, he never claimed any of that!), he was the greatest liar on the "good" side and for all the filth thrown his way, Karna was the purest drop of gold in the "evil" side (Bhisma pitamaha was duty bound and faltered when facing Shikandi. Not done!!). The Mahabharata is one of the finest epics with so many sub-stories within it, that an entire movie industry could thrive on adapting them into movies (but our industry is busy copying each other when we are tired of copying from Hollywood).
Neither Krishna nor Karna were working towards setting an example for posterity. Krishna was aware of how the world was supposed to go and did just that. Karna was aware of what he was supposed to do and he did just that. Now who is to measure the greatness of each of them? Karna was the absolute measure of a man's worth. What a man can ever aspire to be, he was. His charity knew no bounds while he never asked anything from anyone. When Duryodhana offered him his friendship, the young man who was shunned by everyone as a charioteer's son, was overwhelmed and he embraced this friendship. Duryodhana was not conniving when he offered him his friendship as it was too early for him to know Karna's true worth. But people mocked their friendship. Karna lived through it all on the power of his mettle and inner core. When people and fate deserted him, he walked on and did what was expected to be done in his position. He lied but once (to his teacher, the great Parashurama) and paid heavily for it. His was a life filled with suffering and denial. He was never given his due and even Krishna who knew it all, never openly supported him or took care of him (well, he is the Param-dhama). Arjuna symbolised the fate of one who is protected disproportionately by the partial Lord. Karna symbolised the fate of he who has such a strong core, that the only way the Lord can maintain His station is by bring that soul to his knees. Ullathil nalla ullam, urangaadhu.