Devarajan’s favourite female singer Madhuri remembers him
She was the favourite female voice of G. Devarajan, Malayalam cinema’s greatest ever composer. P. Madhuri considers it an honour that she could sing some 500 songs tuned by Devarajan, whose eighth death anniversary falls on Saturday.
“I am fortunate that I could sing so many unforgettable songs for a genius that Devarajan certainly was,” Madhuri told The Hindu at Kozhikode on Friday. “I had no idea about his greatness though when I first met him in Chennai about five decades ago; he had heard me sing in a play (I used to act too in those days) and wanted me to meet him. “He asked me to learn Malayalam so that I could sing for him.”
Madhuri, living in New Delhi at the time, learnt Malayalam in three months and Devarajan gave her the song “Kasthuri thailamittu…” (‘Kadalpalam’). The song was an instant hit.
“I still get requests to sing that in my songs,” she says. “I think 90 per cent of my songs in Malayalam were composed by Devarajan.”
Among them are some of the sweetest melodies in Malayalam. Melodies such as “Innenikku pottu kuthan…” (‘Guruvayur Kesavan’), “Athire thiruvathire…” (‘Prethangalude Thazhvara’), “Pranathanenikku nalkiya…” (‘Enippadikal’), which fetched Madhuri a State Award, “Priyasakhi Gange…” (‘Kumarasambhavam’), “Kalyani kalavani…” (‘Anubhavangal Palichakal’), “Ambadi thannilorunni…” (‘Chakravarthini’), “Makara samkrama sandhyayil…” (‘Kalachakram’), “Himashiala saikatha…” (‘Shalini Ente Koottukari’) and “Bhoomiye snehicha…” (‘Neeyethra Dhanya’). “All those songs are close to my heart,” she says.
“I remember being trained hard by Devarajan for “Innenikku pottu…” for two days. “Priyasakhi Gange…” was originally meant for P. Susheela and I had only sung the track, but P. Subramanyam, the film’s producer and director, liked the way I sang it and asked Devarajan to retain my voice for the song.”
Madhuri says she has always been amazed by the sheer variety of Devarajan. “I do not think there is another composer like him in Indian music,” she says. “And he ensured that his music matched the lyrics, totally.”