His master's voice
Madhusudhana Sarma's passion for vintage music keeps him busy after retirement, besides winning him laurels
Photo: P.V. Sivakumar
POST RETIREMENT, one would imagine a quiet life in the company of family members. But not J. Madhusudhana Sarma whose love for music keeps him so busy that his wife, Syamala, comments, "When he was working, we managed some time together. Now, his passion keeps him away from home most of the time."
An active member of Ghantasala Gana Sabha, an organisation dedicated to the musical genius of Telugu films - late Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao, Sarma was interested in music since his childhood as "we had a gramophone at home". It is small wonder then that the first thing he purchased after getting a job was "a record player and some records". That was in 1963 and then, there was no looking back.
"Fortunately, I could get some brand new records, which was a difficult and costly (Rs. 28) affair in those days," says the 60-something Sarma who is into vintage music. Sarma's prized possession includes over 3,000 78-RPM records, 1,000 LP records, 1,000 cassettes and some CDs. "It will take us about a year to listen to all the songs in my collection," he says, jokingly.
Courtesy Sarma, some songs by veteran singers like C. Krishnaveni (who sang Jo achyutananda in a 1936 film), A.P. Komala (Maduranagarilo challanammabodu), K. Rani (who rendered songs in Devdas) and Tanguturi Suryakumari (of Maa Telugu talliki fame), which would have been lost forever, saw the light of the day once again. The music company HMV borrowed from his collection and released yesteryear singers' songs in their Golden Hour series.
To keep track of his huge prized collection, Sarma maintains a diary a glance at which tells you that his collection dates to 1934 with songs from films like Lavakusa, Srikrishna Leelalu (1935), Draupadi and Maya Bazaar (1936), Vipranarayana (1937), Kanakatara, Malapilla and Kachadevayani (1938) and Vandemataram, Raitubidda and Malli Pelli (1939) finding a pride of place. He also has about half-a-dozen 12" size LPs of classical music by Chembai Vaidyanath Bhagavathar. A feather in this collector's cap is King Edward's message to the Indian subjects about the British Empire and for Christmas (in 1932 and 1934) - a rare possession.
Among the records which can be heard on his two decks, a CD player and a gramophone, the first one Sarma bought is an English version of Besami Mucho "which was adapted into Telugu as Adi oka idile... " His love for Latin American music "as it is close to Indian music" made him collect 15 versions of this song.
Though his siblings enjoy listening to Telugu and Hindi songs, he developed interest in Western music, thanks to Radio Ceylon and programmes like Binaka Hit Parade. While he likes songs composed by C.R. Subbarayan and Ghantasala in Telugu, in Hindi, music directors Anil Biswas and C. Ramachandra are his favourites.
Sarma laments about the present status of film music. " I stopped collecting the records after 1960 as I found that the melody is lost - even in Ghantasala's voice, that soothing effect reduced. Today, songs have no lyrics, melody or clarity in pronunciation, only the orchestra dominates."
"There has been tremendous progress in technology and recording quality. Channel recording is in vogue now where recording for each segment (string/ percussion instruments and singers) is done separately and mixed digitally. Still, I feel with primitive recording techniques, the old songs sound better than the new ones," adds Sarma who likes soft music and speaks about Vemuri Gaggayya and Ricky Martin in the same breath.
Those interested in vintage music can contact Sarma (Tel: 23817329) who doesn't mind recording songs from his collection onto your cassette.
Send this article to Friends by