Ananthu’s evening of film numbers titled ‘Oru Naal Podhuma,’ at Kamaraj Arangam, on Children’s Day, had a salient pick of everlasting songs. Ananthu, an MSV protégé, has been with the illustrious composer for nearly two decades now. As Y. Gee. Mahendra remarked, “That a music director of MSV’s stature finds Ananthu worthy, speaks volumes about his talent.”

I’ve been following Ananthu’s musical journey through the years. With his knowledge of Classical music and superb voice range, his climb to glory in filmdom ought to have been a cakewalk. “He’s a playback singer, who deserves better recognition,” SPB said. True, Ananthu has sung some popular songs, including, ‘Puli Urumudhu’, a ‘Vettaikkaaran’ chartbuster.

Music giants such as Balamuralikrishna and M. S. Viswanathan heaped praise on Ananthu. “Why don’t you include me in your stage shows,” quipped Balamuralikrishna, as he sang a few lines from his famous, ‘Thanga Radham Vandhadhu.’ It was sheer pleasure watching him nod in appreciation when Ananthu rendered his unforgettable, ‘Oru Naal Podhuma.’ Composer Ganesh (of the Shankar-Ganesh duo) also appeared on stage with the veterans to wish Ananthu well. Senior director SPM stayed on throughout, and besides Piraisoodan those present included Dhina, Ramesh Vinayakam, James Vasanthan and Unni Menon.

Unfazed by the mike system that let them down very badly, ‘Kovai’ Murali, an indispensable voice on the stage circuit, and Ananthu, wowed the audience with their resonant rendering of ‘Vendriduvaen …’ from the yesteryear ‘Agathiyar.’ The riveting ‘Aadaadha Manamum,’ an MSV composition of the 1950s originally sung by MLV and TMS, in the voices of Ananthu and Malavika, held the audience in thrall. They were brought to the earth with a thud with anchor Fathima Babu’s faux pas – she referred to the MGR song as Sivaji Ganesan’s! The crowd corrected her and she hastily apologised. Otherwise her emceeing skill was intact.

The orchestral support of Murali’s Mouna Ragam was on commendable lines. Today’s trend of relying on minus one track for certain songs makes use of too many instruments redundant. However, the musicians on stage – the keyboardists in particular -- were appreciable.

Some time ago during my interaction with MSV, he pointed out to Ananthu and said, “He’s amazing. I hope his potential is understood and utilised well.”

The goodwill of such greats should work wonders for the singer…