ippadiyum oru peN - A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi




How does an ill-equipped geography enthusiast go about tracing the course of a mighty river that thunders its way from its source, meanders into majestic tributaries, serenades magnificent cities, irrigates vast lands, brings succor to parched throats across provinces and finally flows into the sea, proud, dignified and awesome as ever…

How does a mere tfm aficionado attempt a life-sketch of a woman who exuded greatness in everything she did, a multi-talented genius of rare principles who lived life on her own terms and never hesitated to speak her mind, a one-woman industry who stormed every male bastion in tinsel town and pulled off incredible successes with gleeful nonchalance, a daring entrepreneur who reveled in repeatedly breaking into smithereens zealously held pre-conceived notions of the male dominated industry, a trail-blazing pioneer who towered over her contemporaries and subsequent pretenders by the strength of her impeccable prowess, a strong-willed and domineering taskmaster who could never suffer lesser mortals easily, a cheerful and contented person wholly conscious of her glorious achievements, a venerable veteran in every aspect of filmmaking who spanned generations and still remains unchallenged as the greatest performer of them all, …Sure she did grace the portals of tfm as a singer and music composer of rare merit and has left behind songs of timeless allure, but then this was just one facet of this remarkable woman…

Simple, the tfm enthusiast gives up, albeit sheepishly! For it is sheer folly to contemplate a comprehensive chronicle of the life and times of a colossus like Mrs. Bhanumati Ramakrishna Paaluvaayi (September 7, 1925 - December 24, 2005). All he can do is take up one facet of the genius that is familiar to him, i.e. her songs from her Tamil movies and persist to present them as best as he can as a humble homage to memory of the remarkable woman, with the first part appearing on her birthday today.

Bhanumati acted and sang in her first movie when she was 13, wrote her first story when she was 14, married the man of her choice against the wishes of her parents when she was one month short of 18, settled to a life of marital bliss away from grease paint and glamour for a while and then made a majestic return to cinema when she was 20 and now a mother as well, set up her own production company and then a studio when she was 24 and made an imposing debut as a director when she was 28. She set her own standards and then strove tirelessly to surpass herself. Her screen presence was legendary and her songs sung with enjoyment and élan. She wrote, acted, composed music, sang, edited, produced, directed, ran a well-equipped movie studio with amazing acumen….. “People in the film industry call me a high-spirited woman who tried to get what she wanted and often succeeded. Their assessment was correct!” said a forthright Bhanumati in an interview. No false pretences of modesty in her! And beyond cinema, she wore innumerable hats as homemaker, culinary expert, award-winning writer, painter, astrologer, educationist, social worker….

As I said, as a narrator, it is impossible (for me) to do adequate justice to Bhanumati’s remarkable repertoire in full. Hence let me be content with attempting a discography of tfm work and give audio links for many of her songs from Tamil movies as we progress album by album. I must confess here that though I did unearth many of Bhanumati’s songs from my collections, some songs proved elusive, like her songs from ‘rajamukti’, for instance. I know I had them somewhere, but despite vigorous efforts to ferret them out, they remain stubbornly hidden. I know I’ll come across them some day when I am not looking for them particularly, but then that is one of Murphy’s tiresome laws that one learns to live with!

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part I - Her early years and entry into Telugu cinema.

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part II - Entry in Tamil Cinema. Rajamukthi, Nalla thambi, Laila Majnu

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part III - dEvamanOhari, apoorva sagOtharargaL, ratnakumar

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part IV - raaNi,  kaadhal, chaNdiraaNi

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part V - malaikkaLLan, vipranarayaNa

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part VI - kalvanin kaadhali, alibabavum 40 thirudargaLum

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part VII - tenaaliraman, sadhaaram, madurai veeran

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part VIII - thaaikku pin thaaram, rambaiyin kaadhal, rangOn radha

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part IX - makkaLai petRa maharasi, manamagan thEvai

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part X - raaNi lalithangi- ambikapathi

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part XI - saarangathaaraa

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part XII - naadOdi mannan

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part XIII - maNimEkalai- rajabhakthi- raja dEsingu

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part XIV - kaanal neer

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part XV - annai

A Hundred Songs of Bhanumathi - Part XVI - kalai arasi

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