Song of the Day: muthukku muththaaga from anbu sagOtharargaL.
‘muthukku muththaaga’ from anbu sagOtharargaL
Sung by Ghantasala
Lyrics by Kannadasan
Music by K.V.Mahadevan
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’ (1972) was a hugely successful Telugu movie that celebrated a Golden Jubilee run. S.V. Ranga Rao, Gummadi, Prabhakar Redddy, Krishna, Vijayanirmala, Devika, Sarojadevi, Jamuna and Jayasudha (debut) formed the impressive line-up in the cast.
‘Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned’
- it was this line from William Congreve (The Mourning Bride, Act III) that must have inspired Prabhakar Reddy’s stirring saga. And onto this trellis, he interwove the emotional upheavals that play havoc on a close-knit family of four brothers. Director Laxmi Deepak stirred this magic potion and came up with a movie that could not but keep the cash counters ringing.
Four affectionate brothers, with the younger brothers holding the eldest brother in awe. Love and laughter fill that household, until a woman wronged earlier by the second brother turns up, seeking revenge. She succeeds in wrecking their idyllic existence with systematic scheming. Added to this, the third brother who becomes the Collector of the district turns his back on his family under the influence of his wicked wife. The family does comes out of the ordeal in the end, but the price that it had to pay is too heavy.
The story was simple; the screenplay stark, the frames sans filigrees, yet the powerful performances of the seasoned artistes ensured the film’s victory at the hustings. S.P. Kothandapani’s tunes to Dasarathi’s lines were an additional attraction. And not only was the film a runaway hit, it also bagged the President’s Gold Medal for that year under the “Best Regional Film” category.
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The Tamil remake was but inevitable. anbu sagOtharargaL ( 5.5.1973/ Jayanthi Films) was produced by Kanagasabai and had Laxmi Deepak at the helm again, this time fortified by A.L.Narayanan’s dialogues and V.Ramamoorthi’s cinematography. Major Sundararajan played the second brother Selvaraj, with Devika playing his wife Lakshmi. AVM.Rajan was the third brother- “Collector” Durairaj, and Prameela was his wife, Prabha. Jaishankar was the last sibling, the college student Premraj, and ‘veNNiRa aadai’ Nirmala played his pair, Lalitha. Jamuna was impressive in the cameo of the avenging woman. Rojaramani, VKR, V.S.Raghavan, Cho, and Manorama were the others in the cast.
But like a towering giant, S.V.Ranga Rao overshadowed the talented ensemble effortlessly with his subtle, heart-warming portrayal of the eldest brother Dharmaraj. In the dusk of his illustrious career in Tamil cinema, this wonderful artiste brought new nuances to the role he had essayed in the Telugu original, and carried the entire proceedings on his deceptively frail shoulders. Do you recall the scene where he is trying out English words painstakingly, and his sheepish contortions on discovering that he had been witnessed doing so? Brilliant, and nonchalantly so!
KVM extracted two songs each from Kannadasan and Vaali, and composed some noteworthy numbers. ‘ethirpaarthEn, unnai ethirpaarthEn
’ (Vaali) is a caressing duet crooned by SPB and PS. ‘ammamma ammamma’
(Kannadasan) is an archetypal SPB/LRE duet. ‘om sakthi om sakthi’
(Vaali) is a rollicking TMS/LRE carnival.
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But the song that remains enshrined in memory is the haunting SOTD. KVM crafts a simple, evocative composition out of Kannadasan’s apposite lines, and then sends for Ghantasala to do the needful. Ghantasala was singing a Tamil song after a long sabbatical; his last Tamil film song then was perhaps way back in 1964 - the duet ‘viNNaaLum sundara roopam’
with SJ from rishyasrungar is Ghantasala’s last song in the 60s that I could remember. Perhaps the fact that Ghantasala had wrought magic with the Telugu equivalent ‘babu vinara anna thamulla katha okati’
nudged KVM into calling Ghantasala to do the honours in Tamil as well. Listen to the Telugu song here:
’ is Ghantasala’s last song in Tamil. And what a scintillating swansong it turned out to be! The song, filmed on the thespian Ranga Rao, remains a lingering audio-visual treat.
Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao (4.12.1922- 11.2.1974) remains a celebrated icon of the Telugu populace. The sheer magic of his voice, the remarkable range that his repertoire reveals, and the exciting, imaginative vistas that his expressive renditions conjure up- all these ensured that he remained the numero uno singer of Telugu cinema for nearly 3 decades. He made his mark in Tamil as well, both as a soulful singer and as a meritorious composer. The Govt. of India honoured him with a ‘Padmashri’, the Tirumala-Tirupathi Devasthanam recognised him as the temple’s ‘aasthana vidwan’, a stamp has been issued in his honour, and his statue has been installed and deified. More than all this, his still lives in the hearts of thousands of Telugus, as his songs continue to captivate generations of listeners.
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I got this song recorded some years back from a recording centre in T.Nagar, Chennai. The record itself was dusty from years of neglect, and the garrulous owner wiped it clean and then played the song. While the recording was going on, he gradually fell silent, and didn’t seem to hear what I was talking. Finding him suddenly non-communicative, I too fell silent. But observing him, I saw him trying hurriedly to brush off the tears that were swelling in his eyes. After the song was recorded, as he was placing the record back in its cover, I ventured to ask him the reason for his sudden change of mood. Managing a very feeble smile, he related how his younger brother, whom he had brought up like a son, drifted away from them after marrying a richer woman. And that the lines of this song brought back the memories of their earlier happier days, as well as the agony of the current separation.
I too was deeply moved, for I was overcome by the sudden realization of what tfm means to us. Film music is not merely that, it manages to throw off that cloak so easily. It becomes an integral part of our life, and we tend to relate our own joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments to various songs that we listen to. These songs can assume the aura of a soothing salve. They can also open up forgotten wounds with equal felicity. They can goad us into action, make us fall into a reverie, fill us with lusty pining, whip up religious fervour, torture us with the agony of remorse, stir up patriotic thoughts and selfless ideals….or even if none of these, they can still make us sigh wistfully for those wonderful fantasies that never seem to knock at our door….