“Eena Meena Deeka” – Adhisaya Penn (1959) – Tamil Feature Film

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“Eena Meena Deeka” – “ஈனா மீனா டீகா” from அதிசய பெண் (Adhisaya Penn – 1959), Voice: P Susheela (பி சுஷீலா) – Adaptation: S M Subbiah Naidu (எஸ் எம் சுப்பையா நாயுடு) – Original Score: Chitalkar Ramachandra (சிதல்கர் ராமச்சந்திரா)

Original Song Credit: Chitalkar Ramachandra (From the Hindi Film Soundtrack “Aasha” rendered by Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar)

“Athisaya Penn” is a 1959 Tamil Romantic comedy film written by Javert V Seetharaman (who played a supporting in Gemini’s classic “Miss Malini”). He came to be called as “Jawar” or “Javert” due to his memorable portrayal of “Inspector Javert” in the 1950 Tamil Classic, “Ezhai Padum Padu”(starring Chitoor V. Nagiah & Directed by T R Ramnoth) which was based on “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo. Athisaya Penn’s casting included Akkineni Nageswara Rao, Vyjayanthimala in the lead while R. S. Manohar, S. A. Ashokan, E. V. Saroja, Madhuri Devi, K. Sarangapani, K. N. Kamlam, M. S. Dhraupadhi, V. Seetharaman, Angamuthu and Eswar as the ensemble cast, was produced, edited and directed by M. V. Raman (Raman Productions). Lyrics were by V. Seetharaman and Subbu Arumugham. The film’s director of photography was T. Muthusami (even the Technicolor parts). Dances were choreographed by masters K.N. Dhandayuthapani Pillai, Hiralal and Sohanlal, with music by S.M. Subbaiah Naidu, who was famous during that period. The music was a success, with one particular song, the rock ‘n’ roll number ‘Eeena meena deega’, becoming a hit number. The film is a remake from 1957 Hindi Flick “Aasha” which became a hit at the box office starring Kishore Kumar and Vyjayanthimala who reprises her role from the original and directed by M. V. Raman as well with Chitalkar Ramachandra providing the musical score.

Plot: The film was all about Muthuraja (played by Sarangapani), a rich man and a connoisseur of fine arts, who fails to manage his estate. His son Manivannan (Akinneni Nageswara Rao) who spends time with the downtrodden refuses to show interest in the family business. It is left to Muthuraja’s sister Maragatham (M.S. Draupathi) to conduct the business affairs of the family Her son Raju (R S Manohar), who lives in Madras, is a vagabond. Maragatham sends Manivannan to Madras so he can be educated & cared for by Raju. In Madras, Manivannan comes across Lally (Madhuri Devi) who is unable to pay her hotel bill and helps her out monetarily. Raju fails in his duties and lets Manivannan do as he wishes. One day, Manivannan goes to watch a dance drama and ends up meeting a young dancer, Nirmala (Vyjayanthimala), with whom he falls in love. Complications result when Manivannan is charged with a murder, while Raju is the real killer. How truth prevails and how the lovers are united forms the rest of the film. Vyjayanthimala, the glamour girl of Indian cinema and a talented and trained classical dancer, played the female lead in both versions. Akkineni Nageswara Rao (ANR), a South Indian star, played the hero in Tamil. In the Hindi version, the hero was played by singer-actor Kishore Kumar.

Considered by many as “O P Nayyar” of South Indian Films, Sangeethaiah as he was fondly known, S M Subbiah Naidu (SMS) was one of the earliest composer, arranger & orchestrator in the annals of Tamil Cinema (70 films to his credit). His tunes were very catchy and his songs instant hits. He has made J. P. Chandrababu a great singer in the song Kunguma Poove Konjum Puraave. He would leave no stone unturned to bring the best of his singers. He was a Resident Composer for “Pakshiraja Films” (owned by S M Sriramulu Naidu). His first film was “Manonmani” in 1941 produced by Modern Theatres. He was credited for introducing the concept of “playback” in the year 1947 for the Tamil film “Rajakumari”(starring M G Ramachandran & V N Janaki). Thiruchi Loganathan sang “Kasinimel Nangal”, a playback song for M. N. Nambiar. It is notable that it is MGR’s first movie as a hero. In 1948 under SMS’s composition, the legendary lyricist Kannadasan wrote his first song “Kalangathiru Manamey Un Kanavellan Nanavagum Oru Dinamey” for Kanniyin Kathali sung by K. V. Janaki. The film was released in 1949. His all-purpose assistant, M. S. Viswanathan at Jupiter Pictures went on to rule the Tamil film industry for over five decades. It is rumoured that as his assistant, M. S. Viswanathan practised composing tunes when SMS was not around. SMS’s memorable films include: “Sri Murugan” “Valmiki” (1946), “Kanjan” “Kannika” (1947), “Abhimanyu” “Mohini” (1948), “Ezhai Padum Paadu” “Beedala Paatlu” (1950), “Kanchana” (1952), “Ponni” (1953), “Malai Kallan” (1954), “Nadodi Mannan” “Annaiyin Aanai” (1958), “Maragatham” “Adhisaya Penn” (1959), “Thirudadhe” (1961), “Konjum Slangai” (1962), “Thayin Madiyil” (1964), “Asai Mugham” (1965) & Manippu (1969).

Some immortal compositions of S. M. Subbaiah Naidu include: “Thirudaathe” by (T. M. Soundararajan), “Ethanai kaalanthaan”( T. M. Soundararajan), Yavvaname Inba”(M L Vasanthakumari”, “Puvi Raja” (M L Vasanthakumari, Tiruchi Loganathan), “Asai Raja” (P A Periyanayaki), “Kanivudan Thirumbiye” (P A Periyanayaki), “Thoongaathe Thambi” (T. M. Soundararajan), “Kanavin Maya” (T M Soundararajan, P Susheela), “Eena Meena Deeka” (P Susheela), “Singaara Velane” (S. Janaki), “Nee Engey”(T. M. Soundararajan, P Susheela), “Kuyilosayai Vellum (P Susheela, A P Komala), “Maalai Mayangukindra” (Radha Jayalakshmi), “Annaiyai Pol” (T. M. Soundararajan), “Ethanai Selvangal” (T. M. Soundararajan), “Kannil Vanthu Minnal” (T. M. Soundararajan & Jikki).

Influenced by Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Cab Calloway, Ellington, Harry James, Sammy Kaye & Artie Shaw, the legendary Chitalkar Ramachandra (C Ramachandra) introduced in his compositions the alto sax in combination with guitar and harmonica. He also included whistling in one of his famous songs, “Aana meri jaan”, “ Sunday ke Sunday” in film Shehnai. He used a combination of a bongo, an oboe, a trumpet, a clarinet and a sax for the song “Shola Jo Bhadke” in film Albela. He sang the title song “Shin Shinaki Boobla Boo” with Lata Mangeshkar, which included rock rhythms. When C Ramachandra was entrusted with the score for the film “Asha” in 1956, one of the composition called for “spice melody” or a “teaser”. Immersed in creative thought in his music room, he was distracted by his kids playing outside. Distraction turned to interest as he heard his kids chant “Eenie-Meenie-Miny”. The tune was shared with C Ramachandra’s assistant music arranger John Gomes. Together, they created “Eena Meena Deeka,  De Dai Damanika.” John, being Goan, added the ‘Maka naka’ (‘I don’t want’ in Konkani) as scat rhymes developed into a longer phrase gathering a structural tempo till they ended with “rum pum po”. Thus the “scat song” was born. In the North, arrangers like John Gomes, Joe Gomes, Sebastian D’Souza, Manohari Singh, Kersi Lord, Chic Chocolate, Y S Mulky and several others working for legion of architects such as C Ramachandra, Shankar-Jaikishen, Madan Mohan, S D Burman, O P Nayyar and later RD Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Kalyanji-Anandji, gave each instruments its own distinctive role and created symmetry or congruity between the engineers and craftsmen.

In vocal jazz, scat singing is vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all. Scat singing is a difficult technique that requires singers with the ability to sing improvised melodies and rhythms using the voice as an instrument rather than a speaking medium. Though scat singing is improvised, the melodic lines are often variations on scale and arpeggio fragments, stock patterns and riffs, as is the case with instrumental improvisers. As well, scatting usually incorporates musical structure. For example, Ella Fitzgerald’s scat performances of “How High the Moon”, for instance, use the same tempo, begin with a chorus of a straight reading of the lyric, move to a “specialty chorus” introducing the scat chorus, and then the scat itself. The deliberate choice of scat syllables also is a key element in vocal jazz improvisation. Syllable choice influences the pitch articulation, coloration, and resonance of the performance.

This composition by C Ramachandra itself per se, had 1940’s traditional jazz orchestra influences as discussed above. The song deserves a special mention (for the sake of nostalgia) and it remains one of the classics of the bygone era of the Indian celluloid. A truly timeless performance by the Southern Nightingale P Susheela the composition is a sophisticated partnership among musicians – there is no better representation of the best of singing, song-writing and musical arranging available. With this wonderful scat and solos, this is one of the best cuts on the album! This rendition was a high point in her legendary career.

The prelude “horns” section really shines in this John Gomes arrangement and provides a strong start for this “breakneck” composition. The musical arrangement bolsters Susheela’s vocals wonderfully for this relentlessly upbeat number and sets the mood. Reminiscent of Bregman, Riddle, May, Strayhorn and Weston who did the arranging for Ella!

ஈனா மீனா டிகா
ஹே டய் டாமநிகா
ஹே மாக நாக நாக
ஹே பிகா பிகா ரிகா
ஈனா மீனா டிகா டிகா டய் டய் டாமநிகா மாக நாக மாக நாக பிகா பிகா ரோலா ரிகா
சொன்னாலே சந்தோஷம்
eena meena deeka
hai dai daamanika
hai maka naaka naaka
pikka pika rika
eena meena deeka deeka dai dai damanika maka naka maka naka pika pika rola rika
sonnale santhosham

In the first lyrical phrase the nightingale appeals to all the senses from cool to snappy and from sensual to thrilling (especially with that scat portions – nonsense syllables). There is a purity and beauty in Susheela’s voice, a lilting elegance which is unmatched (in “sonnale santhosham”). Her vocal instrument is definitely at its peak and at full display, especially the coloration. She sings this phrase with all her might – adding beautiful ornamentation.

ஜரிகை குல்லா போட்டு வராரு மாப்பிள்ளை
ஜமிந்தாறு வீட்டு பிள்ளை இவர் இல்லை
சின்ன சின்ன பெண்கள் சிநேகம் இவர் கொண்டு
சிணுங்கும் வேலை கண்டு சிரிக்க வைபதுண்டு
ஊரெல்லாம் இவர் உறவுண்டு
ஒ ஒ ஒ ஒ ஒ ஒ ஒ

Sarigai gulla pottu varraru mappillai
Zamindaru veetu pillai ivar illai
Chinna chinna pengal sneham ivar kondu
Sinungum velai kandu sirikka vaippadhundu
Oorellam ivar uravundu
oooooooooo

Her ability to swing; her tremendous vocal range, impeccable phrasing and scatting; and her silky smooth voice are one-of-a-kind (in “zamindaru veetu pillai ivar illai”). It’s the audio equivalent of a spirited yet mellow Scotch whisky. Her way with a song defies analysis. She can be funny, light and warm (in “sarigai gulla pottu vararu mappillai” & “sinungum velai kandu sirikka vaipathundu”). Yet there is also an underlying sadness in her voice and sensibility (in “oorellam ivar uravundu”).

ஈனா மீனா டிகா
ஹே டய் டாமநிகா
ஹே மாக நாக நாக
ஹே பிகா பிகா ரிகா
ஈனா மீனா டிகா டிகா டய் டய் டாமநிகா மாக நாக மாக நாக பிகா பிகா ரோலா ரிகா
சொன்னாலே சந்தோஷம்

eena meena deeka
hai dai daamanika
hai maka naaka naaka
pikka pika rika
eena meena deeka deeka dai dai damanika maka naka maka naka pika pika rola rika
sonnale santhosham

நித்தம் ஒரு கல்யாணம்
நினைக்க மூட்டும் மேளம்
இரண்டு தர சட்டம் இவர் வரைக்கும் மட்டும்
மாமன் மாமி கோடி
மைத்துனர் முக்கோடி
மாமன் மாமி கோடி
மைத்துனர் முக்கோடி
மாப்பிள்ளை இவர் யார் என்றால்
பர்பாத் கி பர்பாத் கி பர்பாத் கியே ஹைன்

nitham oru kalyanam
ninnaika mutum melam
irandu thara chattam ivar varaikkum mattum
maman maami kodi
maithunar mukkodi
maman maami kodi
maithunar mukkodi
mappilai ivar yaar endral
barbaad ki barbaad ki barbaad kiye hain….

One can listen to Susheela massaging the C Ramachandra tune (in “nitham oru kalyanam” & “ninnaika muttum melam”). She swings gently for this romantic tune and the musicians accompany the nightingale to perfection (in “maaman mami kodi”). The notes spill from her mouth with the refreshing quality of a waterfall. The nightingale here, keeps her embellishments to an minimum and is content to let good songs speak for themselves. What is showcased here is the – high-pitched innocence, unwaveringly perfect intonation, unforced projection and quintessentially pure diction. But it’s also the ideal voice for displaying the genius of the men behind the songs, a transparent medium – in all their melodic richness and lyric inventiveness.

There are no vocal acrobatics here; these compositions are strong in their construction. I believe this 50’s composition has always been a landmark of her recording career (some even thought whether Asha crooned this Tamil version); her warm, lush voice was in absolute top form and the musical backing was nothing short of stellar. But if you want to experience the southern nightingale at her peak, you need to hear her in a jazzier environment (such as this one or “paartha gnyabagham illayo” from the movie “Pudhiya Paravai” or “Idhayam Polladhadhu”), where she takes off the gloves and blows everyone away with her astonishing voice and interpretations. This is Susheela at her finest. Couple the nightingale with great composers, lyricists, arrangers and orchestras and this is a classic for the ages. In Indian celluloid (north & south of the vindhyas) music there are but two “Voices”, Lata and Susheela.

Beautiful song, beautiful lady, nobody has more gorgeous phrasing or heart-lifting vocals than the southern nightingale Susheela. Can you live without this composition in regular rotation? I can’t.

 


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