Sounding exactly like A. M. Raja, C.A. Raja, who presented the scintillating voice in all its original glory, was a treat to listen to.

Close your eyes and listen to his voice, and you are bound to be stupefied — yesteryear melody king A.M.Raja is singing live! The young singer is C.A.Raja. The other evening at Kamarajar Hall, the young man effortlessly transported the audience to the times of A.M.Raja.

It was the inaugural show of C.A.Raja’s troupe, ‘Pranavam,’ organised by Alandur Fine Arts, Chennai.

“I imitate only the nuances typical of the veteran, not his voice. Our timbre is similar,” says Raja. “But I can sing like others too,” he adds, and at once croons lines from a couple of numbers. This time it’s Udit Narayanan and T.M.Soundararajan! “I can also bring T.R.Mahalingam’s voice into mine,” he smiles. You’ve witnessed mimicry, but this is mastery of the perfect kind!

The singer ushered in the nostalgic mood of the crowd with his opening AMR piece. And songs such as ‘Kan Moodum Vaelaiyilum …’ actually took you on a pleasant stroll to the memorable era of MGR films. With no lyrics in front of him Raja offered an unforgettable fiesta.

It was Lakshman of Lakshman Sruthi who first spotted the innate similarity in the tone and tenor of the two Rajas. “Though I’d begun singing light music even from my school days in Tiruvannamalai I hadn’t noticed the uniqueness till Lakshman pointed it out and advised me to concentrate on Raja’s repertoire,” he says. Singer and AMR’s wife Jikki invited him over to her house and instilled enough confidence in him to do two exclusive AMR shows along with her. “‘You are another son to me,’ she told me. I can never forget her words,” he pensively notes.

The sons and daughters of A.M.Raja and Jikki were present at the hall that evening, to listen to their ‘dad’s voice replicated to a T.

Melodic showcase

P.B.Sreenivos’s hits were also on the agenda and the singer himself was present as an energetic listener. The encouragement PBS offers young singers is amazing. When he admitted that once at the mike he had the tendency to go on and on, but was “learning to keep his speeches short,” his simplicity was touching. Singer Subramaniam who had helped C.A.Raja in putting the show together, shared stage space with veteran S.N.Surendar to present some of PBS’s evergreen numbers.

Be it the sober ‘Mayakkama Kalakkama’ or the romantic ‘Yaen Sirithaai’ Surendar captured the mood of the melodies beautifully even as he added lustre to the exercise with his nuances and improvisations. But Subramaniam’s singing lacked verve, though his voice was as soft as PBS’s. Familiar female singers on the light music circuit who made an impact that evening were Deepashika, Usha, Amrita and Sudhavalli.

Directors R.V.Udhayakumar, Vasanth and Sharavana Subbiah were among those who were present to wish Raja. But the genuine warmth with which yesteryear comedy queen M. Saroja blessed him should remain with him forever.