“En Vazhvil Pudhupadhai” – Thanga Padhumai (1959) – Tamil Feature Film

Creative Commons License
This work by http://thesouthernnightingale.net is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Composition Extraordinaire & Voice Immortal Series 16


“En Vazhvil Pudhu Paadhai” (தங்க பதுமை) – Thanga Padumai (1959) – Voice: P Susheela (பி சுஷீலா) & Composed by Viswanathan Ramamurthy


Racy Percussion Preludes (Arpeggios) Matches the Scintillating Crooning by Ma Saraswathi Susheelamma!


Winner of the “National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil” in the year 1959, “Thanga Padhumai” was a box office hit both upon its release and re-release. A Jupiter Pictures production (M Somasundaram aka Jupiter Somu who considered Annadurai as his “mentor”)) and directed by the acclaimed A S A Sami had Sivaji Ganesan and Padmini in the leading roles with T. R. Rajakumari, M. N. Nambiar, M. N. Rajam, E. V. Saroja, N. S. Krishnan, R. Balasubramaniam, ‘Kuladeivam’ Rajagopal and T. P. Muthulakshmi in supporting roles. Interestingly narrated – chastity and other virtues as the “subject matter knot”was loosely based on the “Silapathikaram” Kannagi-Kovalan concept (and also the Hollywood film “The Egyptian”), but with a different twist the movie’s dialogues were memorialized by Aru Ramanathan with the musical score handled by Viswanathan Ramamurthy Duo. The Film also boasts of excellent cinematography, art design & choreography (P S Gopalakrishnan, Hiralal-Sohanlal & Thangaraj).


With production giant “Modern Theatres” around, Jupiter pictures entered the fray with their celebrated Tamil movie “Kannagi”(1942) starring Pudukkotai Ulaganthan Pilla Chinnappa (P U Chinnappa) and Pasupuleti Kannamba (P Kannamba). The song penned by Udumalai Narayana Kavi “Chandrodayam Idhile Kaanuvadhum Senthamarai Mughame” (composed by S V Venkataraman) sung by the pair is worth mentioning here. Jupiter Pictures later on went on to acquire the famous “Central Studious” where the “Emperor of Cine Light Music” – M S Viswanthan interned. After relocating to Madras, Jupiter Somu went on to produce some of the memorable pictures (mythological, folklore) like “Rajakumari (1947), “Abhimanyu” (1948), “Manohara” (1954), “Karpukarasi”(1957), “Ellorum Innatu Mannar” (1960) & “Arasilangkumari” (1961). Celluloid gossip reveals that the hit number “Pudhu Vasanthamame Vazhvile” from Abhimanyu (1948) sung by Tiruchi Loganathan & U R Jeevarathnam was originally tuned by M S Viswanthan , working under the tutelage of S M Subbiah Naidu at Jupiter Pictures.


Sivaji Ganesan plays the younger physician to the king (R. Balasubramaniam) and his wife (Padmini) was modelled on Kannagi as the personification of female virtues. The physician is commanded to the palace to treat the king where the princess (M. N. Rajam) falls for him and virtually enslaves him, preventing him from going back to his wife. She even goes to the extent of blinding the hero and in a long drawn out song-oriented climax, the wife prays before the gold statue of Parvathi, hence the title, and gets back her husband’s sight and happiness.


The duo composed a total of 16 songs. Lyrics were penned by Udumalai Narayana Kavi, Pattukkottai Kalyanasundaram, Kannadasan & A. Maruthakasi. The vocal playback support were provided by T. M. Soundararajan, C. S. Jayaraman, Seerkazhi Govindarajan, S. C. Krishnan, P. Leela, M. L. Vasanthakumari, T. S. Bagavathi, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, P. Suseela, Jikki, A. P. Komala, A. G. Rathnamala & K. Jamuna Rani. The classic hit songs included “En Vazhvil Pudhu” (P Susheela), “Varugiraal Unnai Thedi” (M L Vasanthakumari, S Rajalakshmi), “Indru Namdhullame” (Jikki, T M Soundararajan), “Aarambamavadhu Pennukkule” (C S Jayaraman), “Mugathil Mugham Paarkalam” (T M Soundararajan, P Leela), “Vizhi Vel” (K Jamunarani, A P Komala)


A mathematically perfect score with complex algebraic notes of sorts, the song begins with a technically brilliant orchestral prelude unheard for that era (racy violin-clarinet arpeggios -mandolin infused). The same was not included in the theatrical release version. Thanks to the YouTube up-loader for weaving it together! Undoubtedly, the song is aesthetically superior as well to all other musical pieces combined in the 50s – a harbinger of extraordinary compositions to come from the Emperor of light music written for celluloid (eg. “Malai Pozhuthin Mayakathile”, “Ennai Eduthu Thannai”, “Athaan En Athaan”, “Enge Neeyum Naanum”, “Sonnadhu Neethana”, “Ninaika Therindha Maname”, “Kannan Ennum Mannan”, “Thangathile Oru Kurai”, “Paarthal Pasi Theerum”, “Mathura Nagaril”,  “Deviyar Iruvar Muruganukku”, “Thanga Radham Vandhadhu”, “Enna Enna Vaarthaigalo”, “Thottal Poo Malarum”, “Thanilavu Thenirraikka”, “Mayangugiral Oru Madhu”, “Malarndhum Malaradha”, “Neerodum Vaigaiyile”, “Nenjam Marapadhillai”, Azhage Vaa”, Amaidhiyana Nadhiyinile”, “Partha Gnyabagam Illaiyo”, “Chitukuruvi Mutham Koduthu” and many more were all voiced by the Divine Songstress Susheelamma).


என் வாழ்வில் புது பாதை கண்டேன்
ஏதும் தோணாமல் தடுமாறுகின்றேன்
என் வாழ்வில் புது பாதை கண்டேன்
ஏதும் தோணாமல் தடுமாறுகின்றேன்
என் வாழ்வில் புது பாதை கண்டேன் (extension)
yen vaazhvil pudhu paadhai kandaen
yaedhum thonaamal thadumaarughindraen
yen vaazhvil pudhu paadhai kandaen
yaedhum thonaamal thadumaarughindraen
yen vaazhvil pudhu paadhai kandaennnnnn…..(extension)

By this time in 1959, Susheela’s recording of this masterpiece, the Madras sound engineers had gained tremendous insight into recording of voices and it shows.


The celluloid theme in fact opens the orchestral prelude, and regurgitates during the interludes at the same tempo. The opening lyrical phrase has a perfect blend of sangeetham (score) and sahithyam (libretto) in each sections such as pallavi and charanas. Simple colloquial words feature in the sahithyam with a sustained balance of raga & bhava is maintained between the music and the words throughout. Listen to her beautiful and distinctive tone in “yaedhum thonaamal thadumaarughindraen”, flawless vocal dynamics, very expressive indeed that cuts through your heart. Susheela’s agility, speed, and rock-solid techniques again at full display when she processes “yen vaazhvil pudhu paadhai kandaennnnnn..”, the end phrasal extensions (rapid articulation) reprogramming her voice sort of like a German “Sprechgesang”. Here the composer (employing Wagnerian style) compels Susheela’s sing outside her “tessitura”. The orchestra under the duo is simply “excellent”. The interludes which has the merit of being consistent with Susheelamma’s tempo for her second lyrical entrance (charana) – it is the same theme, now played by cellos and violas rather than clarinet, and this is where you understand that the first time the composers were only anticipating the mood of the second entrance – are indeed convincing and even mesmerizing.


For many, P Susheela will always be defined by this role, her signature for over five decades and perfectly suited to voice for the “Southern Siren” – Padmini, with its incredible floated high notes. She sounds much fresher in this recording with the composers. There is no replacement for the Songstress and her intense involvement with the role – she stands out for sheer lusciousness of voice.

The singing is what makes this piece so worthy of your attention. If you want a “voice for character” study, go for P Susheela or Lata Mangeshkar, both of whom created incredible repertoire and each sing very well on their respective recordings. None of her contemporaries in the South possessed the instrument of Susheela, who demonstrates it here in all its grand opulence.


காணாத நிலையே கண்டதனாலே
வங்க கரையின்றி பொங்கும் கடல் போலே ஆனேனே
இது கனவோ அன்றி நனவோ எனதன்பே நீ சொல்லாயோ
ஒ ஒ ஒ ஒ
என் வாழ்வில் புது பாதை கண்டேன்
ஏதும் தோணாமல் தடுமாறுகின்றேன்
kaanaadha nilaiyae kandadhanaalae
vanghak karaiyindri ponghum kadal polae aanaenae
idhu kanavo andri nanavo
yenadhanbae nee sollaayo… o… o…o… o… (coloratura racy bhrigas and sustains)
 yen vaazhvil pudhu paadhai kandaen
yaedhum thonaamal thadumaarughindraen

Susheela is equally virtuosic in the soprano’s milieu, as she robustly full-lungs her way through some of the most cruelly exposed high notes – “yenadhanbae nee sollaayo” in the score. And how euphoniously her voice and the orchestral accompaniments mesh in the final product! How confidently she surfs the surging waves of the composer’s conducting! Indeed, she identified so closely with that character, we are immersed in only Susheela’s vocal gymnastics forget to notice Padmini’s intricate dance moves. Her rich voice is perfectly suited to the music and the role of Padmini – lush and heroic, yet capable of the most exquisite tenderness and sweetness handling the softer passages “idhu kanavo andri nanavo” beautifully as well. Susheela was arguably the pre-eminent vocalist of her era worthily partnering with Viswanathan-Ramamurthy.


இருமனம் ஒன்றும் திருமனத்தாலே
இணையே இல்லாத இல்வாழ்விலே
தேவை தன்னை உணர்ந்தே சேவை செய்து மகிழ்வேன்
சிறந்த இன்பம் காணுவேன்
உறவாடும் காதல் சுகம் வரும் போது
உன்னை மறந்தாலே அதிசயம் எது
கிடையாது
irumanam ondrum thirumanathalae
inaiye Illadha ill vazhvile
thevaithannai unarndhe
sevai seidhu magizhven
sirindha inbam kaanuven
uravaadum kadhal sugam varumbodhu
unnai marandhale adhisayam edhu
kidayadhu..
idhu kanavo andri nanavo
yenadhanbae nee sollaayo…… o… o… o… (coloratura extensions)

Showing no strain in the lower passages – “irumanam ondrum thirumanathalae inaiye illadha ill vazhvile” and in the higher tessitura of the most demanding passages – “thevaithannai unarndhe sevai seidhu magizhven sirindha inbam kaanuven uravaadum kadhal sugam varumbodhu” – it was the outstanding excellence of Susheela’s reading of the score – that she made the most of those finer moments of emotional sincerity that it contains, pointing and sharpening their accents and illuminating their depths.

Sure the voice is sumptuous in both the upper & lower reaches and the vocal acting is hugely expressive, but you can also distinctly hear her vocal act, especially in “kidayaadhu”. Just listen to the first measures: beautiful soaring line on “uravaadum kaadhal sugam varumbodhu”, but then she descends on the lower “idhu kanavo andri nanavo”- display of sheer vocal brilliance & timbral homogenity! Reminds me of Leontyne Price’s rendition of “O Patria Mio” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida”


என் வாழ்வில் புது பாதை கண்டேன்
ஏதும் தோணாமல் தடுமாறுகின்றேன்
என் வாழ்வில் புது பாதை கண்டேன்
ஏதும் தோணாமல் தடுமாறுகின்றேன்
என் வாழ்வில் புது பாதை கண்டேன் (extension)
yen vaazhvil pudhu paadhai kandaen
yaedhum thonaamal thadumaarughindraen
yen vaazhvil pudhu paadhai kandaen
yaedhum thonaamal thadumaarughindraen
yen vaazhvil pudhu paadhai kandaennnnnn…..(extension)

The song is pristine, the sonic “gorgeous” & Susheela’s rendition “phenomenal”. I didn’t see Padmini in celluloid but heard only Gana Saraswathi Susheela’s voice………..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s