Susarla’s Neo-Light Classical Grandeur – P Susheela’s “Mezmerizing, Soothing & Impressive Lullaby “
A lullaby is a soothing piece of music, usually played or sung to young children before they go to sleep, with the intention of aiding that process. As a result, the music is often simple and repetitive. Lullabies can be found in many countries, and have existed since ancient times. Tonally, most lullabies are simple, often merely alternating tonic and dominant harmonies. Lullabies are usually in triple metre or 6/8 time, giving them a “characteristic swinging or rocking motion,” says Sally Goddard Blythe of The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology.
Produced by Irish Films the casting included Gemini Ganesan, E V Saroja, Anjali Devi, M R Radha, P S Gnanam, Devika, K Malathi, S V Ranga Rao, T S Durairaj, Sarangapani, & Sairam. Story and Dialogues were written by M S Solaimalai & the musical score was composed by Susarla Dakshinamurthy. K N Dandayudhapani Pillai & A K Chopra were in charge of Choreography while V Ramamoorthi was the lens man at Vijaya-Vauhini studios where the movie was shot. The film was directed by G Ramakrishnan (a former Assistant to L V Prasad).
Composer Susarla Dakshinamurthy hailed from Peddakallepalli village in Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh. He was also a Playback Singer (Lakshmamma Katha-1950 “Haayiga Venula Vindhugha” a duet with P Leela), Producer and an Eminent Carnatic Musician. His paternal grandfather was Susarala Dakshinamurthy, a classical music pioneer. Susarla was a child prodigy, who at the age of 9 played the violin with great finesse accompanying all the singers during the nine day Navarathri Celebration at Machilipatnam. He also worked in the All India Radio (AIR) and joined the film industry as an assistant to great music director Bheemavarapu Narasimha Rao. Later he became an assistant (providing playback as well) to the famed C R Subburaman (Laila Majnu, Chenchulakshmi, Swapna Sundari, Devadas, Velaikari) . During the early 50’s he also collaborated with the legendary G Ramanathan and Sinhalese Composer Ananda Samarakoon. Beginning his career with Narada Naradi in 1949, he scored music for Samsaram (1950), Sarvadhikari (1951 – Modern Theatres), Valayapathi (1952 – Modern Theatres), Kalyani (1952), Sujatha (1953), Dasi (1953), “Mangaiyar Thilakam” (1955), Santanam (1955), Ilavelpu (1956), Alibabavum 40 Thirudargalum (1957), Yaar Paiyan (1957), Bhagyavathi (1957) & Krishna Leelalu (1959), Annapurna (1960), “Narthanasala (1963), Aasaha Sundari (1960), Srimad Virata Parvam (1983), Sreemad Virat Veerabrahmendra Swamy Charitra (1984) to name a few. He was also credited for introducing Lata Mangeshkar in the 1955 Telugu Film “Santhanam” (Nidura Pora Thamuda), again for a Lullaby. He lived a full life (92 years).
The highlight of the movie was its music by Susarla Dakshinamurthy with lyrical support from Marudhakasi, Kannadasan & lesser known K M Krishnan. The soundtrack consisted of 6+ songs and sung by T M Soundararajan, Tiruchi Loganathan, P B Srinivos, K Jamuna Rani and P. Susheela – “Kannum Manamum” (T M Soundararajan), “Chinna Vayasil Anbu” (P Susheela, Jamuna Rani), “Chinna Araumbu Malarum” (P Susheela), “Chinna Arumbu Malarum” (Tiruchi Loganathan), “Nee Ariyayo” (P Susheela, P B Srinivos). One may recall his other famous lullaby “Neela Vanna Kanna” from Mangaiyar Thilakam (1955) rendered by Ravvu Balasaraswathi. But this rare mesmerizing one by Susheela is a “class” in itself and could be rated as one of her Top 15 in the annals of Tamil Filmography. Amma had sung a few popular immortal masterpieces for Susarla “Thandhai Yaao” (Yaar Paiyan), “Sakhiya Vivarinchave” & “Janani Sivakamini” (Narthanasala), “Challani Raja“ (Ilavelpu), “Manasemito” (Annapurna), “Saagi Baa Raja”, “Akalala Neenendu” (Asha Sundari).
In this flick, Susheela had the opportunity to sing 3 songs. Incidentally both the lullabies “Neela Vanna Kanna” & “Chinna Arumbu Malrum” were penned by Marudhakasi and they remain immortal till date. Kavignar Marudhakasi was born in Melakudikadu (Trichirapalli) in February 13, 1920. He was inspired by the works of great poets Udumalai Narayanakavi, Arunachala Kavirayar & Gopalakrishna Bharathi. Marudhakasi wrote his first film song for Modern Theatres production Mayavathi (1949) under G Ramanatha Iyer’s baton. He went on to write lyrics in almost every film that was released in the 1950s and became the busiest and most sought after lyricist of that decade. He passed away in 1989.
Though Susheela’s repertoire under Susarla’s music direction is about less than 30 songs – the collaboration still lives in our memories. The song showcases all of Ma ‘s strengths –Recorded at her Prime –Balance, Range & Depth, Tonal Texture, Infallible sense of Rhythm and Tempo. The 60’s represent the peak of her accomplishments in South Indian Cinema. Included in the orchestral make-up were violin, mandolin and woodwind (clarinet). Susarla lays the needed foundation with a violin preludes while she drifts through with her beautiful prelude humming and right before every charanam as well. A music connoisseur could also find traces of Hindustani “Bhimplasi” weaved into this composition. Susarla’s orchestral treatment of Marudhakasi’s verses are quite interesting (compare it with “Neela Vanna Kanna” or Thandhai Yaaro”)
The intro lyrical phrase (pallavi) begins (A Good Potrayal by Anjali Devi) with “Chinna Arumbu Malarum..Sirripai Sindhi Valarum” with Susheela carefully negotiating “Chi” and “Si” brilliantly with her “ornamentation” (bhavam)” intact (no wonder she is the “Queen of Diction”). Very Impressive feat Indeed! “Kangal Andha Katchi Kandu…. Kalikkum Naal Varum”, the culminating notes precisely hit (neatly enunciating “hope”& “inspiration”). There is also that overwhelming feel of “heaviness of life” that Susheela captures so vividly (Unmatched Involvement to the Lyrics).
In first lyrical phrase (charanam), “Mannil Ulavum Nilave..En Vayitril Udhitha Kaniye” “Vazhvu unnal Sezhithe” (the trill) …“Naan Maghizhum Naal Varum” (expressing that the child is her only hope), the voice has a beguiling freshness and warmth to it and how nicely she interprets Marudhakasi’s lyrics breathing life into the song with her “phrasing” extracting sympathy from her audience. Incredibly Pure Tone!
In second & third lyrical phrase, “Unadhu Maaman Varuvaan..Anaithu Inbam Peruvaan…Urimaiyellam Tharuvaan ..Sugam Perugam Naal Varum”. She displays melodramatic power, emotional delivery and vocal grace in equal parts. Her voice melds perfectly with the woodwind instrument. “Ezhai Kanda Kanave..Manam Ilaga Seyum Azhage..Vazhai Kuruthu Pole Nee Valarum Naal Varum..Sugam Thazhaikum Naal Varum” is an example of her virtuosity. See, how she closes the song with a technically brilliant improvised solo passage (a cadenza) much to the amazement of the Composer himself. A heart-rending vocal, this song seems meant for her like many others before it.
If you are not a great fan of “lullabies”, you will… after hearing P Susheela’s voice.