Ragas that have in them all of five notes are usually the very adaptable and instantly captivating ones. The pentatonic raga Suddhadhanyasi is symmetrical in ascent and descent and takes on Sadja, Sadharana Gandhara, Suddha Madhyama, Pancama and Kaisiki Nishada as its notes. The classical pieces in this scale include “Entanerchina” of Thyagaraja, and “Subrahmanyena” and “Sri Parthasarathy” of Dikshitar.
In film music this scale has been used extensively, starting with “Vaa Vaa Valarmathiye”( “Vanangamudi” ), where G Ramanathan roped in ML Vasantakumari to sing. The song starts with a viruttam that touches upon the famous Sanskrit works of Kalidasa. Clever sangatis in the pallavi- “Vaa” (GG SS NN) “Vaa” (SS NN PP) “Vaa” (NN PM G) make this a bright piece.
“Kangal Enge” from “Karnan” (music Viswanathan-Ramamurthy)is an ideal example of how this raga ought to be treated in films. P Suseela's flawless rendition and rich back-ups have made this melody live on till today. In the lines “Kanda podhe”... the raga is establised beyond doubt “PMGMP, NNPMG, / GMGN S,S”.
In the film “Bale Pandiya,” the song “Neeye unakku endrum nigaraanavan” is a spirited Suddhadhanyasi treat. A song that is peppered with swaras and zealous konnakol , this one often leaves the listener in splits. The fun element gushes forth, while the raga's purity remains uncompromised, an intelligent combination. TM Soundararajan sings this under the music direction of the duo Viswanathan-Ramamurthy.
“Thottal poo malarum” from “Padagotti” changed the outlook of this raga in films, a breezy enchanting piece. The use of the Hawaiian guitar in the backgrounds is sheer genius and weaves magic. The opening phrase establishes the raga “N, S, GGSNS,” and the voices of TMS and P Suseela add sheen.
Ilayaraja has explored this raga in various perspectives, each one different from the other.“Vizhiyil vizhundu” from “Alaigal Oyvadillai” is a striking piece, the opening lines itself outlining the raga's avarohana “S N P M G S N, S”. “Maalaiyil yaaro” from “Kshatriyan” is a melodious piece sung by Swarnalatha, conveying intense passion bordering on pangs of separation. The counters given in the flute entice as does the refrain “nenjame paattezhudhu..” lifting our spirits to the gandhara in the upper octave.
Interestingly ,the film “Alaigal Oyvadillai” has two songs based on this raga “Poovarasampoo” and “Manjolai Kilithano”, both colourful ones. This is a raga that brings out the mood of happiness as much as it helps to bring out meditative calmness. So essentially the music director's point of view determines its impact. “Illaya Nadhi” from “Manasellam” and “Enna solli paaduvatho” from “En Mana Vaanil” are more recent songs of the maestro in this raga.
In Hindustani music the raga Gaundgiri closely resembles Suddhadhanyasi. The song “Gori tera gaon bada pyara” from “Chitchor” (music Ravindra Jain) is largely based on the Gaundgiri scale. Sung by Yesudas, this all-time favourite has folk touches too.
In film songs sometimes the rishabha takes an inevitable peek into the song ,either in the melody itself or the background music. However the spirit of the raga outshines all else.