“Inba Kanavondru Naane” – Vanjikkottai Vaaliban (1958) – Tamil Feature Film

Composition Extraordinaire & Voice Immortal Series (11)

“Inba Kanavondru Naane” – Gramaphone Version – (Vanjikkotai Valiban – 1958), Voice: P Susheela & Composed by Chitalkar Narahar Ramachandra (C Ramachandra)

A Gypsy Composition & Susheela’s Immaculate Rendition!

Produced by Gemini’s S.S. Vasan, this Film needs no introduction. I am sure many of you would watched the film especially for the famed dance sequence by Actress Padmini & Vyjayanthimala song “Kannum Lannum Kalandhu” (written by Kothamangalam Subbu)choreographed by the famous Hiralal and the catch phrase “Sabash Sariyaana Potti” mouthed by Villian P.S. Veerappa is still popular today. Film Historian Randor Guy mentions that the song was regarded as the best dance sequence in Indian cinema till date. The movie is remembered for the mentioned dance sequence choregraphed by Hiralal, technical brilliance and excellent music by Chitalkar Ramachandra. The film was inspired by the famous 1844 novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” and was remade in Hindi as “Raj Tilak” with the same crew. The film was one of the successful Tamil films of 1958 along with films such as Nadodi Mannan & Uthamaputhran.

Chitalkar Ramachandra was considered a renowned music composer in the annals of Indian Cinema. How can one forget “Mere Piya Gaye Rangoon”, “Yeh Zindagi Usiki Hai”, “Kitna Haseen Hai”, “Mehfil Mein Jal Uthi”, “Dekhoji Bahr Aayi”, “Balma Bada Nadan”, “Ina Mina Dika”, “Aadha Hai Chandrama” or the very famous patriotic song “Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo” composed by him. He was widely credited for introducing Rock Rhythms, Alto Sax, Harmonica, Guitar, Oboe and Trumpet in his compositions.

The highlight of the movie was its music by Chitalkar Ramachandra with lyrical support from the famed Kothamangalam Subbu, who was a permanent staff at Gemini. The soundtrack consisted of 8+ songs and sung by P. Leela, Jikki Krishnaveni, C.S. Jayaraman, Seerkazhi Govindarajan and P. Susheela. While P. Leela was the predominant singer, Jikki and Amma had their share too. The songs were “Amma Amma” (CSJ), “Ethanai Kelvi” (P Susheela) , “Inba Kanavondru” (P Susheela), “Raja Magal “ (P Leela), “Kannum Kannum” (P Leela & Jikki), “Vennilave Vennilave” (P Leela), “Vetrivel Veeravel” (Seerkazhi Govindarajan), All of them were Chitalkar’s original compositions.

P Susheela had the opportunity to sing a rare unheard piece, “Inba Kanavondru” & Ethanai Kelvi” (for Padmini) in the movie. But the songs were not as popular as “Kannum Kannum Kalandhu”. I picked one of my favorites from the movie that is “Inba Kanavondru”. Believe me, not a day goes by without me thinking “Would the Kannum Kannum song be different had it been rendered by P Susheela and Jikki? I bet it would be. One may be aware of the song “Mannulagellam Ponnulagaga” (Padmini-Ragini) from the 1958 movie “Uthamaputhran” rendered by Jikki and Susheela composed by G Ramanatha Iyer. They form quite a good pair. There is also another composition rendered by the same pair in a 1956 Telugu movie and the song is titled “Chandamama Rekkalam” composed by Susarla Dakshinamurthy.

The mentioned composition had a sort of Gypsy Eastern European flavor to it, I thought. The quality of the recording is outstanding for that period. The preludes, heavy violin interludes and the orchestration winding down with a harmonica infused conclusion were in the usual Chitalkar style. The song is so brilliantly done and makes me wonder why this piece was not quite popular. It should have been. I leave that to Chitalkar, the wizard.

What was Susheela’s contribution in this breezy Gypsy number? Listen carefully and one can figure this out quickly, it is the unique amazing control of vocals, beautifully expressive – putting the required feelings for her mysterious man without overdoing it. You can really feel every word “Ennenavo Seivatheno Nenjam” in this song and for Padmini as well. She really tells the story of that song. Not everyone can accomplish that. The phrase “jamtharijam” – usually phrases like these are mouthed by the background choir singers. But Chitalkar for unknown reasons to us had Susheela deliver that particular portion initially and later on backed by the choir. The choir behind her is just beautiful. Isn’t it rare?

In the first charanam “Nesathinale En Nenjai Izhandhen” she gets higher, she goes right into her head voice with no problems. Then she gets down into her lower dramatic voice “Adi Ennennavo Seivatheno Nenjam”. It is absolutely pure bliss. I must admit Chitalkar’s interpretation and Susheela’s infallible sense of rhythm and tempo left a marked impression on me. This is the only song I listen to from this movie.

The second charanam – “Paal Pol Nila Veesee Kaayum En Mele..Pasum Thendral Puli pole Paayum En Mele” – Literally, no one can match her spellbinding ability to convey emotion and capture the listener. In the phrase “Kannum Kannum Pesi Ondraavadhale” – She never takes her eyes off the goal-the quality of production and vocal integrity. Look at the pacing, the way she spins the phrases without abusing it or showing of her vocal techniques unlike her contemporaries. People who are familiar with her repertoire will admit that she interprets the lyrics dramatically and no one can come close to her.

No other word to describe this song, except it is amazing and quite pleasing to the ear – “A voice without Parallel”.

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