She was just nine when she first appeared on the dais. She went on to secure a permanent place in a field that was once considered a bastion of men.
When the country’s tryst with destiny began on the midnight of August 15, 1947, it was D.K. Pattammal’s voice on All India Radio (AIR) that called upon people to sing ‘Aduvome pallu paduvome.’
But what has remained a little known secret is that Pattammal may have lent her voice to the background score of Hollywood film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941).
“It was reported in Free Express and the newspaper clipping, dating back to 1940, was in the possession of our grandfather R. Iswaran. When we shifted household articles after his demise, we stumbled upon it,” said Gayathri Sundararaman, granddaughter of Pattammal, during the launch of a website honouring the singer, www.dkpattammal.org, on Sunday.
Ms. Sundararaman however, does not know if her grandmother rendered a song by herself or was part of the chorus. “While it is a matter of great joy, we don’t know any details about it. We are seeking information on the subject,” she said.
The clipping is a small news item that refers to MGM buying the rights to remake R.L. Stevenson’s sci-fi tale with Robert Donat in the dual lead role. When the film came out the following year, however, the lead was played by Spencer Tracy. Pattammal’s picture is part of the news item and captioned as the one who rendered the background song.
Carnatic vocalist Nithyasree Mahadevan, another granddaughter of Pattammal, said though the family had tons of material, they could upload only five per cent of the information under 15 heads on the website.
The data included documents, letters, newspaper articles, rare photographs and recordings. “We will gradually upload all the other details and recordings,” said Nithyasree.
Ms. Sundararaman said they had hosted old recordings of Pattammal and obtained permission from recording companies.
N. Murali, president of The Music Academy, inaugurated the website. “DKP was one of the finest musicians of the 20 century and a role model. She is one of the trinity — the others being M.L. Vasanthakumari and M.S. Subbulakshmi — that dominated the Carnatic music world,” he said.
The event was organised by Hamsadhwani and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.