One gave us the poignant Megame Megame in Paalaivana Solai, and the other, the melodic Pulveli Pulveli in Aasai. While one is noted for his jewellery, the other is an invincible monarch who has arrested the youth with his gaana. Shankar Ganesh has seen over 40 summers in the industry, and Deva, over 25, and both are going strong. After an hour of a live show for a local channel, they happily oblige for a Take Two. When the two come together, it is a delightful exchange on the changing times. W. Sreelalitha is totally glued. Deva: I was working for Doordarshan Kendra since 1976 as a floor assistant. But, I kept trying for films. Finally, the first film to be released was Manasukketha Maharasa in 1989. But it was Vaikasi Porandhachu (1990) that gave me a break. In two months, I had 20 films in hand!
Shankar Ganesh: G.K. Venkatesh took me to Viswanathan-Ramamurthy. After watching him I wanted to be a music director. Magaraasi was my first release in 1964. But, Attukkara Alamelu was a turning point.
Deva: During the time of Viswanathan-Ramamurthy, the trend in music changed once in 25 years. But now, the trend changes by the week.
Shankar Ganesh: In those days, there was a conductor, we gave out the notes, had all the players assembled, and it was like a live orchestra.
Deva: Yes, in fact, was it not like a wedding? Everyone met up and spent time together. Why, P. Suseela’s son calls you mama, and TMS sir’s son calls Suseela athai!
Shankar Ganesh: Sadly, nowadays each one completes his/her track separately, and many don’t even meet the co-artistes.
Deva: Exactly. Then, we completed two songs in a day, but now, there’s just one person sitting with a keyboard. Strangely, with all the technology in hand, one song takes at least five days.
Shankar Ganesh: Also, in most songs today, the lyrics are not audible. In our times, the singer would be stopped even if one word was not clear.
Deva: But, is it not also about generation gap? My father always appreciated MKT. And, if I grasp my son Srikanth’s music, it only shows I am still young at heart! (Laughs) Even my music has changed from Aasai and Annamalai to Nerukku Ner and the latest Pasupathi c/o Rasakkapalayam. In fact, I have sung after four years in this film. (Instantly, the table in front doubles up as drums, and the two break into that number)
Shankar Ganesh: I agree there is generation gap, but, many today are here for quick money.
Deva: How many singers keep just to singing? They compere, act, and even dance!
Shankar Ganesh: It is very vital that one follows the profession with a single-minded dedication.
Deva: Even you had acted in, and directed and produced a few films. But you had proper exposure, as you had worked under big names in the industry. One should not march into any territory without strong foundation or adequate experience, just because it fetches money. But, I will also tell you this. It is good to see that people today in the industry are being smart with money. Don’t we know of many a riches-to-rags story?
Shankar Ganesh: Yes. What about M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar? He was an idol in his times, but towards the end he became blind and was found roaming in the railway station.
Shankar Ganesh: Parents want their children on television. They force their interests on the children.
Deva: Definitely. The child’s day is packed with school, ballet, bharathanatyam and computer lessons.
Shankar Ganesh: Parents should be aware of the child’s passion, and provide guidance accordingly.
Deva: True, and while music can be taught, music composition cannot be. It’s God’s gift.
Shankar Ganesh: In the industry, humility and respect for the seniors are important.
Deva: Entering the industry is easy, but the real challenge lies in staying. One should understand that in this field, the success you give delays your retirement. Those wanting to enter the industry should realise one thing: only those loved by cinema succeed, and not those who love cinema.
Shankar Ganesh: There’s a positive change among the young crop of music directors today.
Deva: Absolutely. In very old days, there was respect for each other. Today it is supreme camaraderie. I was so moved when I saw Yuvan Shankar Raja, Srikanth Deva and SPB’s son Charan sitting together and having fun.
Shankar Ganesh: This is how it should be; it is like one big happy family.
Deva: And, we are proud to sing their songs and compositions in our concerts!