If history repeats itself, then it does more often in Tamil cinema. In 1930s, the industry saw singers turn actors. In a role reversal of sorts now, more and more actors are hitting the recording studios, for they have turned singers.
Following Vikram’s attempt in Kanthasamy, Dhanush has lent his voice to Karthi Sivakumar for a song in Aayirathil Oruvan. Simbu, apart from singing for many of his movies, has also sung for Manoj’s Yennai Theriyuma.
In fact, Vikram wielded the microphone much earlier in Gemini and the trend soon took hold. Actors such as Simbu, Dhanush, Vikram and Bharath joined the singing bandwagon for their forthcoming movies. And, comedian Vadivelu’s songs have a separate fan following.
The recent Unnaipol Oruvan has Kamal Haasan singing. This not new for the actor, whose prowess as a singer is as popular as his acting skills. He has sung for actors such as Dhanush and Ajith in Pudupettai and Ullasam.
Heroines, on their part, are also keen to accept offers to sing. From actors such as Banumathy, S. Varalaskhmi to Mamta Mohandass now, many have taken the avatar of playback singer.
History credits the trend to legendary singer-actors such as P.U. Chinnappa and M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. In their times, playback singing was something unheard of until a few took an initiative to fuse attractive faces with melodious voices.
It all began when A.V.M. Chettiar decided to replace the voice of the Kumari Rukmini, the female lead, in Valli as the response was lukewarm. The song, later sung by Periyanayagi, became an all-time hit and with that, the trend of playback singing picked up, says film chronicler ‘Film news’ Anandan.
After the era of MKT, actors such as Sivaji Ganesan have sung in Pavai Vilaku and Jayalalithaa in Adimai Pen.
Manorama, an actor and a remarkable singer, finds the trend encouraging. “When I entered filmdom, playback singing was a separate entity altogether. A few who had heard my singing performances in plays called me for a song Thatha Thathakoodu in Magale un Samathu.”
Her Pogathe Pogathe En Kanava, a lament in the Kattabomman, created waves among film lovers and the actor began to multitask as singer. Manorama’s songs total up to 200 so far, with the last being the energetic Madras-a suthi paaka poren… in May Madham.
“It is good to see actors coming forward to sing in their own movies. It makes the song more realistic and enjoyable,” she says.
Film industry sources say actors are encouraged to sing as producers see it as potential ways to promote their films.