Faded Into Oblivion Series by Vicky Iyengar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Haunting Rendition of a “Folk Ballad” about “Love, Longing & Despair” from the Southern Nightingale’s Repertoire!
Padagotti (The Coxswain) – படகோட்டி (1964) – “Ennai Eduthu Thannai” (என்னை எடுத்து தன்னை ) – – Composed by M S Viswanathan- Ramamurthy (எம் எஸ் விஸ்வநாதன்-ராமமூர்த்தி ) – Voice: P Susheela (பி சுஷீலா) – Lyrics: Vaali (வாலி)
Padagotti (Eastman Color) is a 1964 Tamil feature film starring M. G. Ramachandran, M N Nambiar & B Saroja Devi in the lead roles. The film was written by Sakthi T. K. Krishnasamy & directed by Tattineni Prakash Rao (the Telugu language film “Palletooru” being his first independent directorial debut). The film was received well and ran for more than 100 days. The film is remembered for its scenic outdoor sequences, revolutionary lyrics by Poet Vaali & extraordinary score by composer(s) Viswanathan-Ramamurthy. The hits include “Tharaimel Pirakka”, “Thottal Poo Malarum”, “Pattukku Pateduthu”, “Azhagu Oru Ragam” & “Ennai Eduthu”. The number “Thottal Poo Malarum” was later re-tuned by A. R. Rahman for the 2004 film “New”. The song “Koduthadellam Koduthan” was originally written by Vaali for the film Paadhai Theriyudhu Paar (1960). The song “Thottal Poo Malarum” was included by “The Hindu” in their list “Best of Vaali: From 1964 – 2013.”
There is something about the coast (serenity, acerbity) that has enthralled people since time immemorial. It’s a fertile ground for writers and artists to tell their stories in song and word. So let us take a trip to the coast with a stylistically anarchic song about “love, longing and despair” – “Ennai Eduthu Thannai Koduthu Ponavan Ponandi”. A voice with unique timbre and sensitivity – this is absolutely one of my favorites, from the time I heard the original track pyramiding Smt. Susheela’s voice. That intro is something. I would call it her signature piece. She showed us what we expected of her (musical dimension of the ballad), dramatizing the florid passages in that divine voice of hers or simply gave it her personal touch. The subtle rhythm and sophisticated tonal controls delivered an musical ambiance in an unusual way. It is a puritan classic. Her voice is huge and gigantic but with amazing flexibility supported by exquisite Viswanathan-Ramamurthy’s musical patterns. It is a force of nature capable of performing the most mind-boggling like coloratura (should I admit on par with Joan Sutherland’s rendition of Vincenzo Bellini’s “Norma” or “Son vergin vezzosa” from “I Puritani”). Only Susheela’s voice and her very secure technique can sing very demanding piece.
She meets the high note requirements easily demonstrating – that she is the only real dramatic soprano out there and set the standard for a masterpiece. To ask for more expressive power would be missing the point; that is not what this rendition is about. It is perfectly chosen to display the best qualities of Susheela’s voice at its peak – thickening the emotional atmosphere. She sang in very high tessituras (an operatic term) and managed to make every word comprehensible (unlike the current crop). It was spectacular in their regularity (long exchanges) and precision and had very accurate pitch but at the same time emotions are conveyed in crisp, poignant dialogue. Smt. Susheela makes the listener aware that she is aware of every word (crucial facts in narrative, therefore, are incised in the memory by skillful repetition) she sings and every one of them brims with dramatic meaning at strident high notes (seems to me she has Montesarrat Caballe’s platinum overtones at some finishing edges).
The orchestral (likened it to Dvorak’s arrangement for Largo) melodic progression & Viswanathan’s empyrean vocals against the background of Susheela’s serene expressiveness and warm acoustics as she redeems the song. She gave us the real thing!