Tamil Nadu

A traditionalist who made waves in a brief film career

CA traditionalist who was ready to be drawn into different experiences, M. Balamuralikrishna was a sensation in the film industry, even in the short while that he spent there. Though he rendered only a few songs in the films, they became all-time hits. He even won national awards for best playback singing and music direction. But his career in the film world began ironically, as an actor, and not a singer.

He played the role of Narada in the film Bhakta Prahalada at the request of A.V. Meyappa Chettiar.

It was a Telugu film and was dubbed in Tamil, Hindi, and Kannada and he played the role in other languages also. He, however, turned down subsequent acting offers. “Somehow I was not attracted by acting. But I agreed to appear in a cameo role as a singer in a Malayalam film,” he had recalled in his biography.

Balamuralikrishna, however, with his prodigious skill, immediately made a mark as a playback singer and his first song was also for a Telugu film Sati Savitiri.

“S. Varalakshmi was the heroine of the film and she had learnt music from Balamuralikrishna. She requested him to render at least one sloka in the movie. But he ended up singing all the songs for the hero A. Nageswara Rao,” said Ranimynthan, the biographer of Balamuralikrishna.

No one could have matched his role, singing for T.S. Balaiah, starring in the role of the imperious Hemanatha Bhagavathar, in the film Thiruvilayadal. In the music of K.V. Mahadevan, the song Oru Naal Pothuma , beginning in maand and subsequently moving on to thodi, dharbar, mohanam and kanada ragas proved an all time classic. He also scored music for the first Sanskrit film Adi Sankaracharya and Ramanujacharya and Madwhvacharya directed by G.V. Iyer. He won the national award for best playback singer for the Kannada film Hamsageethe and the best music director award for the film Madhvacharya . Playback singer P. Leela, who sang many duets with him, was also his student.

The music legends of the film industry had close links with him, finding in him an unassuming, friendly guide who could help them out with the nuances of a raga when they were in doubt. The late music director M.S. Viswanathan (MSV) treated Balamuralikrishna as his guru and used to clarify his doubts with him. When K. Balachander directed Aboorva Ragangal (Rare Ragas), he asked MSV to compose a song in a rare raga to justify the title of the film. Viswanathan in his memoir had recorded that it was Balamuralikrishna, who had helped him set the song Athisaya Ragam to raga mahathi . “It has only three swaras — ka, pa, ni,” Viswanathan has recorded. In Viswanathan’s music, he rendered Thanga Ratham Vanthathu Veethiyile in Kalaikovil , Mounathil Vilaiyadum in Nool Veli . Ilayaraja roped in him to sing Chinnakannan Azhaikiraran in Kavikuil.

In Malayalam, he sang a few songs for the film Swathi Thirunal and won the Kerala State Government Award. Noted Malayalam music director Sharreth is his disciple.

He had composed many keerthanas and thillanas. The other ragas he composed are Sarashree and Sumukam.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 9:58:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/A-traditionalist-who-made-waves-in-a-brief-film-career/article16722435.ece

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