Cinema

Sound track record

Yesteryear singer P. Madhuri. Photo: K. Ragesh

Yesteryear singer P. Madhuri. Photo: K. Ragesh   | Photo Credit: K. Ragesh

Yesteryear playback singer P. Madhuri goes down memory lane, as she is all set to open a new innings in Malayalam cinema

P. Madhuri requested the late maestro G. Devarajan to give her four of his compositions to sing. But the veteran composer went on to give her more than 500 songs – more than those sung by P. Susheela, who rendered many of his finest melodies.

“He would often remind me of my request for four songs and ask me – ‘Aren't you happy that you have so many songs?' Whatever I have achieved in music is only because of that genius,” Madhuri told Friday Review during an interview in Kozhikode.

Memorable debut

The very first song Devarajan gave her, ‘Kasthurithailamittu mudi minukki…' (‘Kadalpalam'), became a big hit. “I was fortunate that I could make such a splendid debut as a playback singer. It was a beautiful song and its popularity helped me gain acceptance among Malayalis,” says Madhuri, a Tamilian who speaks chaste Malayalam. It was because of Devarajan that she learnt Malayalam.

“I was living in Delhi, where my husband was working, when I met Devarajan for the first time. I had come to Chennai to act in a play and that is when he heard me sing. Later, when I told him that I wanted to sing for him he said, ‘Come back after learning Malayalam.' I went back to Delhi and was taught Malayalam by a neighbour, Shyama Nair. I learnt the language within three months and met Devarajan again in Chennai,” she reminisces.

For a new female voice to make a mark in the late 1960's and ‘70's in Malayalam cinema was not easy. P. Susheela and S. Janaki were the reigning queens of melody. But Madhuri made it; she had a distinct voice and her mentor Devarajan had full faith in her.

“Although I grew up in Tiruchirappalli singing the Tamil songs of Susheela, I always had a style of my own. My mother was also a singer, but it was only because of the support of my husband, Jayaram, who is no more, that I was able to make a career in playback singing; I was married at 13 and became a mother at 16, but he encouraged me to make singing a profession,” says Madhuri.

While she sang her first song in Malayalam, little did she dream that she would have such a long career. “I would have been happy with just a few songs, but so many great songs came my way and I also won two State awards – in 1973 for ‘Prananathanenikku nalkiya…' and in 1978 for ‘Rakkilikal padi…' (‘Tharoo Oru Janmam Koodi'),” she says.

Brilliant composition

Madhuri regrets she didn't get any award for her best song – ‘Innenikku pottu kuthan…,' a brilliant composition by Devarajan in the Hindustani raga Miyan Ki Malhar for ‘Guruvayur Kesavan.'

“That was my most challenging song ever and my training in Hindustani music came in handy. But, unfortunately, the film wasn't entered for the State or National awards,” she says. The last film song Madhuri sang for Malayalam cinema was ‘Ee elavathuru…' ‘Meesa Madhavan'), seven years ago.

Age, in fact, hasn't withered her voice much. “And I want to sing again; I will soon be recording a Malayalam film song for Anand Krishna, a new music director; I will also be performing at a live concert after a long time. I am singing in two programmes in Kozhikode later this month. It feels great to see I still have admirers and friends in Kerala, who is helping me stage this comeback to music by arranging the shows,” says Madhuri.

She has been living in Canada with her two sons for the last few years. “That's why I disappeared from the music scene. It feels good to be back and to listen to Malayalam songs again.”

Madhuri's Top Ten

‘Innenikku pottu kuthan…' (‘Guruvayur Kesavan)

‘Prananathanenikku nalkiya…' (‘Enipadikal')

‘Priyasakhi gange…' (‘Kumarasambhavam')

‘Kasthurithailamittu…' (‘Kadalpalam')

‘Rakkilikal padi…' (‘Tharoo Oru Janmam Koodi')

‘Athire thiruvathire…' (‘Prethangalude Thazhvara')

‘Kattum poyi…' (‘Vazhve Mayam')

‘Himashaila saikatha…' (‘Shalini Ente Koottukari')

‘Bhoomiye snehicha…' (‘Neeyethra Dhanya')

‘Hamsaganamalapikkum…' (‘Iniyethra Sandhyakal')

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 12:36:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Sound-track-record/article15675601.ece

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