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Updated: May 31, 2012 17:04 IST

A fitting tribute

K. Pradeep
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M.G. Radhakrishnan: Jeevitham, Sangeetham, Orma. Mathrubhumi Books, Rs. 14
M.G. Radhakrishnan: Jeevitham, Sangeetham, Orma. Mathrubhumi Books, Rs. 14

M.G. Radhakrishnan's music, songs with his definite stamp, has sadly not got its due. His music is simple, vibrant, melodic, and intense. But Radhakrishnan will be remembered as an unheralded musician.

This collection of essays, memoirs, and articles, edited by Pradeep Panangad, attempts to sketch in full, the life, person, career, and music of Radhakrishnan. Broadly divided into three sections titled ‘Jeevitham' (life), ‘Sangeetham' (music) and ‘Orma' (memories), the book includes interviews with the musician, Radhakrishnan's own notes, and a section that gives you a complete list of the light songs composed by Radhakrishnan and the awards he has received.

Radhakrishnan's life is unveiled through the memories of his sister K. Omanakutty, wife Padmaja and his brother M.G. Sreekumar. Radhakrishnan left an indelible mark in setting poems and slokas to tune. He did this not just for All India Radio, but even in films. He breathed life into the verses of poet-lyricists like P. Bhaskaran, O.N.V. Kurup, Kavalam Narayana Panikkar, Bichu Thirumala and Poovachal Khader among many others. Some of them share their views on Radhakrishnan's music. If there is one aspect that all of them share about Radhakrishnan, it is perhaps his sincerity and hard work.

Extolling the goodness and singing praises of the person in concern is the usual refrain of such works. In this book there are two articles that are refreshingly honest in its approach to the subject. Sreekumaran Thampi, a long time family friend of Radhakrishnan's, makes a guileless observation about Radhakrishnan's singing prowess. He says that Radhakrishnan's voice was not suited to film music and that he should have concentrated on classical music instead. Thampi firmly believes that had he done that he would become as famous as M. Balamuralikrishna.

In a rather longish, intimate portrait, Radhalakshmi Padmarajan talks about Radhakrishnan the person, musician, and his relationship with her family.

She makes a candid observation about why Radhakrishnan was not given more opportunities by her own husband (P. Padmarajan) and other directors. She comes to the conclusion that it might be because of Radhakrishnan's limitations in re-recording and maybe because he had this habit of cracking cruel jokes at the most inopportune moments, which was not approved by many directors of the time. Despite repetition of situations and anecdotes, which is bound to happen in such compilations, this work is a collector's delight. It is a fitting tribute to Radhakrishnan and his memorable songs.

M.G. Radhakrishnan: Jeevitham, Sangeetham, Orma

Mathrubhumi Books, Rs. 140

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