The evergreen M.L. Vasanthakumari

M.L. Vasanthakumari's impeccable style gave us many evergreen hits

MLV at the wedding of NSK and Maduram

MLV at the wedding of NSK and Maduram  

MLV has left her strong imprint in every genre of playback singing

MLV took her bow as a playback singer in M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar’s home production ‘Raja Mukthi’ (1948). Composed by C.R. Subbaraman, “Kulak kodi thazhaikka” (Raamapriya), “Aararo” (Yaman Kalyan), “Enna Aanandam” and “Ingum Angum” (Simhendra madhyamam and Madhyamavati) were the duets she rendered with MKT. Alathur Sivasubramania Iyer was the song-trainer for this film.

In 1948, S.V. Venkatraman and Kunnakkudi Venkatrama Iyer composed music for “Krishna Bhakthi,” the only film where MLV gave an on-screen performance of Tyagaraja’s Saraswathi Manohari kriti, “Entha Veduko.” She also sang “Radha sametha Krishna” in this film. “Gaanalolan madhana gopalan” for “Nalla thambi and “Nanda gopalanodu naan aaduvene” for Vyjayanthimala’s debut film AVM’S “Vaazhkai” were her major hits in 1949.

Vyjayantimala

Vyjayantimala  

 

Composer G. Ramanathan gave her as many as five songs in “Manthirikumari” (1950) with “Isaik kalaiye” in Khambodi picturised on Kumari Kamala’s dance, topping the charts. Few more hits in the same year were Bharatiar’s “Kannan mana nilaiye thangame thangam” tuned by S.M. Subbaiah Naidu in Kharaharapriya, Atanaa and Naattakurinji for “Ezhai padum paadu” and “Praana nadhane” in Suddha Saveri, “Nyaayam alladi Bhama” in Sindhu Bhairavi and “Tulasi Sri Jaganmatha” in Desh, composed by S.V. Venkatraman and C.R. Subburaman for “Paarijaatham.”

Major hits

MLV’s blockbuster was ‘Manamagal’ (1951) with C.R. Subbaraman’s musical score. The evergreen “Ellam Inbamayam” (with P. Leela) in Simhendramadhyamam followed by ragamalika swarams in Khambodi, Mohanam, Hindolam, Durbar and Atana, “Ayirathi Thollayirathi” (again with P. Leela) a song championing many social causes and the all-time favourite “Chinnan chiru kiliye” with V.N. Sundaram which vocalists and instrumentalists still include it in their repertoire, became memorable hits.

How can we forget “Konjum Puraave,” “Vellaith thamarai poovil,” “Kovil muzhudhum kanden” and “Kathayaik kelada” from “Thaai Ullam” — a G. Ramanathan bonanza?

Kumari Kamala

Kumari Kamala  

 

Pure classical hits like “Sivakaameshwareem” (Kalyani), “Maaye thwam” (Suddha tarangini) from “Kanchana”(1952), Arunachala kavi’s “Antha Rama Soundaryam” (Kedaragowlai) from “Moondru Pillaigal” (1952) as duet with A.P. Komala, “Ra ra ma inti daka” from “En veedu”(1953), “Thaaye yesodha” from “Kuladeivam” (1956) or excerpts from Kalidasa’s Shyamala dhandakam “Maatha Maragadha shyama” in ragamalika as title song from “Sowbhagyavathi”(1957) and light classicals like “Kuyile unakkanantakoti namaskaram” from “Manithan” (1953), “Imayamalai saaralile” from “Manithanum Mirugamum”(1953), “Solai naduve odi” from “Manam pol maangalyam”(1953), “Ennudalum ulla” from “Kodeeswaran”(1955) and “Kannin maniye vaa” from ‘Valliyin Selvan’ (1955) remain well-balanced. In the film “Mayavathi,” MLV had just hummed Mohana ragam without any lyrics, as a full song, in her impeccable style. She provides a kaleidoscopic view of Kalyani ragam in “Senthamaraik kannane” in “Vairamalai”(1954) by Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy, “Vanna thamizh Sornakkili” from “Kaveriyin Kanavan”(1959) “Athisayam ivanathu arivu mayam” in “Vikramadithan”(1962) by S. Rajeswararao and “Aadum arul jothi” from “Meenda Sorgam”(1960) tuned by T. Chalapati Rao.

A few memorable dance numbers are “Kadhavai saathadi” and Bharathidasan’s “Aalaiyin sange nee oodhaayo” from “Rathak kanneer” (1954, composer: C.S. Jayaraman), “Aadal kaneero” from “Madurai veeran”(1956), “Vaa vaa valarmathiye vaa” from ‘Vanangamudi’ (1957), “Vizhiyodu vilaiyaadum kalaichelvame” with P. Leela from “Karpukkarasi” all composed by G. Ramanathan, “Varugiraal unnaith thedi” with Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi from “Thangappadhumai”(1959) “Aadatha manamum undo” in Lathangi with T.M. Soundarrajan from “Mannathi mannan” (1960), the last two songs composed by Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy, and “Andhi mayanguthadi” in Yaman kalyan from “Parthiban Kanavu” (1960) composed by Vedha.

Memorable duets

Some of MLV’s memorable duets are: “Kaani nilam vendum” with C.S. Jayaraman (‘Andhaman Kaidhi,’ 1952, G. Govindarajulu Naidu), “Varuvai mana mohana” with V.N. Sundaram (“Inspector” 1953, G. Ramanathan), “Konjum mozhi maindhargale” with T.A. Mothi (“En Veedu,” 1953, Chitoor V. Nagaiah and Addappalli Rama rao), “Koovaamal koovum kokilam” and “Vanjam idho” both with Tiruchi Loganathan (“Vaira maalai” 1954, Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy), “Kaniyo paago karkando” with P.B. Sreenivos (“Karpukkarasi” 1957, G. Ramanathan) and “Mohana ranga ennaip paarada” with Sirkazhi Govinda Rajan (“Maamiyaar mechia marumagal” 1959, R. Sudarsanam).

The MLV wave did sweep the Telugu filmworld in a majestic way. It was “Pelli Koothru” (1951) the Telugu version of “Manamagal” that catapulted her to stardom. This film had an excellent Kalyani raga duet with C.R. Subbaraman “Virarajulu valape.” MLV scored two major hits in “Kalahasthi Mahatmyam” (1954) with “Chalu chalu navamohana” set on the lines of Dharmapuri Subbaraya Aiyar’s Khamas Javali ‘Marubari Talanenura’ and a Khambodi piece, “Choochi choochi” for Rajasulochana’s dance.

The MLV-P.Leela duet for “Bhale Ammayilu”(1957) “Gopaala Jaagelaraa” was an instant hit. The Tamil version “Iru Sagodarigal” had “Thaaye un seyal allavo” and both were tuned by Saluri Rajeswara rao and Saluri Hanumantha rao.

MLV sang “Kanaka sowbhagyavathi Revathy devi” tuned by Ghantasala and S. Rajeswara rao for “Maya Bazaar”(1957). Tuned by R. Sudarsanam and R. Govardanam, she sang “Munneeta pavalinchu ” for Kumari Kamala’s dance in AVM’s “Bhookailas” (1958).

Another noteworthy MLV hit is “Neeventa nerajaana vauraa” from “Jayabheri” (1959). Composed by Pendyala Nageswara rao in Hindolam with Pantuvarali and Bilahari interludes, this was for Rajasulochana’s dance. The dasavatara song, “Chepa rupamuna,” rendered by MLV and A.P.Komala for “Rangula Ratnam”(1966) composed by S. Rajeswara Rao and B. Gopalam was also a hit.

MLV’s foray into the Malayalam film world began with Pakshiraja Sriramulu Naidu’s ‘Prasanna’ (1950). She sang “Gaana mohana Hare Gopaalaa” and “Thakarukayo sakalamenden” in her usual classical style. But a pleasant surprise was “Jaathi Vairam neethi rahidhame” tuned in Western style by M.S. Gnanamani. “Aashadeepam” (1953) had melodious musical score by V. Dakshinamoorthy. MLV and P. Leela jointly sang “Jagadhaanandha karaka” in Nattai ragam as title song and a dance number in ragamalika “Jananee jayikka neenal…” . MLV’s solo song in Arabhi ‘Charanam mayil vahana” is simply mesmerising.

Lilting numbers

MLV sang the Swati Tirunal’s Padam “Alarshara Parithaapam”(Surutti) and “Mani varnane innu Njan” in “Koodappirappu” (1956) composed by K. Raghavan. “Maaya moham maarathe” was a lilting number for Ragini’s dance recital in “Thaskara Veeran” (1957) tuned by S.M. Subbaiah Naidu-C. Ramachandra.

Veteran composer G. Devarajan gave two memorable hits for MLV “Kaatre vaa kadale vaa” and “Odakkuzhalum” in “Chaturangam” (1959).A Geethopadesam song in Raagamaalikai by V. Dakshinamoorthy for “Umminithanka” (1961) was rendered by P. Leela for Padmini (Arjuna) and MLV for Ragini (Krishna). Again paired with P. Leela, MLV sang “Varnippathengine” for “Krishna Kuchela” (1961) tuned by K. Raghavan.

The Hindi movie “Chori Chori” (1956) had a beautiful Thillana in Hindolam with Mohanam and Kaapi interludes by MLV. Picturised on Kumari Kamala’s dance, it was choreographed by K.N. Dhandayudapani Pillai with Shankar Jaikishan’s music.

The Kannada movie “Sri Purandara Dasaru” (1967) had MLV sing ”Aadinaeno Ranga” to the beautiful score of C.N. Pandurangan. She sang Jayadevar Ashtapadi for G.V. Iyer’s national award winning Kannada film “Hamsageethe” (1975). Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna was the music director. T.G. Lingappa scored music for Jayadevar Ashtapadhi exclusively. With this film, MLV bid farewell to the tinsel world and returned to Carnatic classical performances and reigned supreme till her untimely demise.

To sum up, whether it was pure classical, semi-classical, dance oriented, devotional, folklore or a western style song, MLV made it an evergreen hit with her impeccable style.

‘Enge Maraindhanayo’ sung by MLV for Amaradeepam (1956) was specially tuned by her mentor G.N. Balasubramaniam in the raga Subhapantuvarali. T. Chalapathy Rao and G. Ramanathan were the music directors and K.S. Gopalakrishnan (famous director in later years) was the lyricist.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 10:34:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/mlvs-tryst-with-the-tinsel-world/article24278876.ece

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