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From: bb on: Wed May 13, 2009 9:16 pm
Song of the Day: kaNNan engE from madhura geetham.
- Saravanan writes:
‘Those who seek for much are left in want of much. Happy is he to whom God has given, with sparing hand, as much as is enough’ These words from of Horace from ‘Carmina’ came to mind one evening last year as I was watching an interview with Chandrabose in one of the countless cable channels that we have. It was heartwarming to see the philosophical shrug with which he accepted the imponderable ways of destiny. He seemed content with the opportunities that came his way, justifiably proud while recollecting the heady times when he was among the most sought-after composers of Tamil cinema, serenely resigned on his gradual downfall, and naively excited about his new innings as an actor in the small screen.
I realized only lately that SOTD has featured very few songs of Chandrabose and it is time we set right this omission, with today’s pick and few to follow. Many of you may recall the interesting discussions we had on Chandrabose when ‘yENdi muththamma’ was put up as SOTD more than 3 years back. Let us bring back Chandrabose to center stage today, and go down memory lane with this unassuming composer.
Thangappan Subhash Chandrabose was drawn to music even as a child. This comes as no surprise if we look into his antecedents. His father was ‘Rajapart’ Thangappan, a famous stage artiste known for his rich baritone. CB’s aunt (mother’s sister) was S.R. Kamalam, a classmate of T.A. Mathuram and a top-ranking stage actress and singer of her time whose emotion-charged performance as Chandramathi in the ‘Harishchandra’ drama had the audience in tears. CB’s elder brother Kamalanathan was an actor in R.S. Manohar’s ‘National Theaters’. S.R. Kamalam’s son Govindan was a skilled Harmonium player who played for the dancers Sasi, Kala & Mani. CB grew up in a household that reverberated all day with lilting music and stirring dialogues. He donned the grease paint when he was barely 12 years old and acted in stage plays. In an interview CB revealed that acting was his first love, but it was only in music that he gained fame. Among the plays in which he acted, CB remembers with a special fondness ‘maNimakudam’ and ‘parasakthi’. He was also part of the Sasi-Kala- Mani ensemble for a while. Those were the times when music was still an integral part of stage plays and CB thus picked up the nuances of classical music while enacting various legendary roles and rendering popular traditional songs under the exacting supervision of revered masters who ruled the numerous ‘Boys’ Companies’ with an iron hand. CB entered Tamil cinema as a dubbing artiste, and worked in several movies dubbed from Telugu.
CB struck a friendship with another aspiring musician called C. Deva. Their friendship developed to such an extent that Deva’s parents considered CB as their eldest son. Together as ‘Boses-Deva’, CB and Deva gave light music programs and composed music for stage plays of V. Gopalakrishnan, Manorama and V.C. Guhanathan. Besides producing and directing several stage plays, Guhanathan was among the popular script-writers of the late 60s and 70s, writing for movies such as ‘muharaasi’, ‘pudhiya bhoomi’, ‘kumarikkOttam’, ‘thangaikkaaga’, ‘enga mama’, ‘sudarum sooRavaLiyum’, ‘rajapart rangadurai’ ‘kanimuththu paappa’, ‘peththa manam piththu’, ‘kasi yaathirai’ etc. He produced movies such as ‘rajapart rangadurai’ and ‘kanimuththu paappa’. He shared an excellent rapport with CB, and when he bagged an opportunity to direct a movie, he insisted on taking CB aboard as the music director. The first movie that Guhanathan set to direct proved to be a non-starter, but he invited CB to work for his next project as well. Titled ‘madhura geetham’, this movie was produced by Ramamohana Rao under the banner Sri Venkatalakshmi Productions, and had in its cast Vijayakumar, Srividya, Sripriya, Ashokan, Major Sundararajan, Surulirajan and Sachu.
This came about at the time when CB had gained some prominence as a stage singer. His favorite song at that time was “Beshak Mandir Masjid Todo’ sung by Narendra Chanchal in ‘Bobby’. When ‘Bobby’ was released at the Star Theater in Triplicane, CB watched the movie repeatedly just for this song. So enamoured of this song was he that he used to go the Marina early in the morning and practice singing the high-pitched number. CB’s rendition of the song at R.R. Sabha brought the audience to its feet. MSV was among the guests at Loyola College when CB sang this song. He was intrigued by this unusual voice, and offered to CB the coveted opportunity to sing in his music for the movie ‘aaRu pushpangaL’. CB was thrilled at this chance of a lifetime, but was in two minds whether to reveal to MSV that he was also composing music for a movie at that time. Finally, it was Kannadasan who let the cat out of the bag. It happened in this way: Sitting with CB, Kannadasan was writing ‘kaaindha sinaiyum’ for ‘madhura geetham’ in the morning, and in the afternoon, he went to Vauhini Studio to watch the recording of the songs of ‘aaRu pushpangaL’. To Kannadasan’s amazement, CB was already there, and after asking him to sing for them ‘Beshak Mandir Masjid Todo’, MSV introduced CB to the bard, informing him that it was CB who was going to sing ‘yENdi muththamma’. The amused Kannadasan informed MSV that CB was already composing music for ‘madhura geetham.’ CB was watching MSV’s face worriedly for any sign of anger at CB not disclosing this fact to him. To his immense relief, a beaming MSV congratulated CB and showered his blessings upon him. The song ‘yENdi muththamma’, as we all know became the rage of the season.
Coming back to ‘madhura geetham’, CB composed a wonderful set of songs. ‘sugamaana ragam, suvaiyaana thamizhppaattu’ sung by Seergazhi Govindarajan and TMS is a great classical duet wherein the veteran singers vie with each other to bring to life Kannadasan’s vibrant lines and CB’s rich classical nuances. No less a person than S.M. Subbiah Naidu is said to have spoken highly of this song before featuring it in his ‘siRappu thEnkinnam’. TMS gets to sing 3 other songs- ‘kaaindha sinaiyum’ and ‘vaarungaL aasaigaLE’ being solos and ‘aadum kattil’ a duet with P. Suseela.
That leaves us with the SOTD. At the stubborn insistence of Guhanathan, CB had to structure this song along the lines of R.D. Burman’s ‘sapna mEra toot gayaa’ (Khel Khel Mein). But to his credit, CB moves away from the operatic flourishes of the original and his inventive touches add singular sheen to his version.
Listen to ‘kaNNan engE kaNNan engE’
Film: madhura geetham (1977/ Sri Venkatalakshmi Productions)
Singers: S.P.B. & P.Suseela
Lyrics: Poovai Senguttuvan
The suspense-filled music adds to the intrigue, and CB picks just the singers to make a winner of this one. Suseela sounds fetchingly forlorn, while SPB asserts his class all over the song. Hark at his humming in the second interlude… Thirty years have gone by, yet even now I remember waiting impatiently for this bit of humming whenever thamizh sEvai iraNdu played this song… and again at the end when after taking us uphill with that racing, high-pitched charaNam lines ending with ‘madhura geethamE’, Suseela lands with the slow, despondent pallavi, it seems like an exhausted saunter after an exciting sprint or more appositely like an eerie calm after a thunderous storm…with the postlude hinting at dangers to follow… This song may not be a CB original, but it did manage to wrest the airwaves for a brief while from Ilaiayaraja, who was at the time coming up with one masterpiece after another in quick succession… And like many other popular numbers of the 70s, this song too seems to have disappeared in the swirling mists of time… Let us listen to it today, and wonder anew at the rich variety that TFM of the 70s had to offer…
‘madhura geetham’ was a successful movie, and won not less than 5 State Government Awards, including the Award for the 2nd Best Movie of the year. In an interview Guhanathan claimed that ‘madhura geetham’ would have won the top award had it not been for Bharathiraja’s ‘16 vayathinilE’. With ‘madhura geetham’ a commercial and critical success and his ‘kaNNan engE’ winning instant appeal, Chandrabose made a noteworthy debut in TFM…
Tags: S.P.B , P.Suseela