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Song of the Day # 288

From: bb (@ on: Fri Aug 29 02:10:05 EDT 2003

Song of the Day: manthaara malarE from naan avan illai.


- A rare, classic song for the weekend!

- Saravanan writes:

‘Mandhaara malare’ from Naan Avanillai. Sung by P Jayachandran & LR Eswari. Music by MSV. Lyrics by Kannadasan & P Bhaskaran.

After a long search for the unabridged film version of the song, I finally found it in an unpretentious recording center in Bhavani. During my articleship years, I had gone for an audit in Erode, and while making neighbourly rounds in the weekend, I heard the opening LRE bit blaring from this shop in Bhavani, and got this and a few other elusive songs recorded then and there by the bemused chap in charge, who was looking askance at my excitement : )

This version is from the original sound track, and besides the soft LRE opening and JC’s dialogue, has some extended interludes, and a postlude as well.

* * * *

Sri Narayani Films’ Naan Avanillai-1974 starred Gemini Ganesh, Kamal Haasan, SV Sahasranamam, Lakshmi, Jayasudha, Jayabharathi, Kanthimathi, Asokan and many others. It was directed by K Balachandar and produced by Gemini Ganesh himself.

The film was an interesting tale of a beguiling philanderer who travels from place to place, assuming varied identities, luring pretty women and making them succumb to his charms. And even when he is facing his comeuppance, his glib unrepentant defence is ‘Naan avanillai’!

Ramaswami ‘Gemini’ Ganesan was 54 years old when he played the title role of the debonair deceiver, and it ranks among his most memorable performances. He made his debut in a minor role in Gemini’s Miss Malini-1947, and by 1974 his long innings as a hero had come a full circle. And Naan Avanillai marked a vibrant sunset on the career of this ‘Kaadhal Mannan’, whose real life affairs made his reel life ones pale in comparison! His later appearances in Lalitha and Unakkaga Naan-both 1976, are best forgotten. He continues acting
in character roles – even as late as in Avvai Shanmugi-1996, he was simply brilliant.

* * * *

The other songs in Naan Avanillai are:

Radha kaadhal varaadha- Navaneethan geetham bodhai tharaadha- SPB & Chorus

Naan chinnanjiru pillai, en kannil kaadhal illai- PS & Chorus, with PBS reciting Hindi couplets in between: ‘Phalon bhare pedon par hi panchi udkar aathe hain--’

Ingey naan paruva kumari-LRE

‘Mandhaara malarae’ featured GG and perhaps Jayabharathi.

MSV ushers in the unique ambience of the ‘God’s Own Country’ by his chendai dominated orchestration. The song conjures up images of graceful kathakali movements with alternating swift and languorous moments. Some other songs by MSV in this genre are 'Swara Raga sruthiyodu vilayadum kaviye'(JC & VJ, Andha 7 Naatkal-1981) and 'Mei silirkkuthu' (JC & VJ, Mookanaankayiru-1985)

* * * *

This was among the earliest songs of Paaliyath Jayachandran in tfm. He had been singing in Malayalam films since the mid 60s. His tender timbre, marked by a tantalizing sweetness enriched the fabric of even a simple composition that came his way.MSV fell for JC’s voice in the early 70s, and in between his wonderful collaborations with KJY and SPB, still managed to save some breathtaking surprises for JC. JC won his first Kerala State Award in 1972 for a MSV composed ‘Suprabatham’ in the film Pani Theeratha Veedu. And in 1973, MSV escorted him into tfm with the enticing ‘Thanga chimizhppol idhazho, andha sanga thamizhppol mozhiyo’(Manippayal, with Pushpalatha), and followed it up with that unforgettable ‘Pon enna poovenna kannae, un kannadi ullathin munnae’(Alaigal).

The following year saw JC singing, with SJ, the caressing ‘Anbumikka maapillaikku’ (Engal Kuladeivam), again for MSV. And this Mandhara malar blossomed next, spreading its Malabar fragrance all over Madras.

* * * *

Now there remains only one person to be dwelt on—Lourdumary Rajeswari, and woe betide anyone who dares to think of this song, without first offering a mental salute to this remarkable songster!

Queried a naïve interviewer (Malarum Ninaivugal, Madras DD, 1990): ‘Madam, neenga medailae paadum pothu, dhideernu dance aada aarambikkireegale--’. Replied LRE, with a throaty chuckle: ‘Thambi, en paatilaye ‘thullavatho illamai’nu irukkum pothu, ennala thullama irukka mudiyuma’?!

And that sums up LRE and her songs. And while she sang so many songs of timeless appeal in the 60s, I find some of her songs in the first half of the 70s equally memorable. And K Balachandar, in awe of her wondrous range, harnessed her infinite skills to the fullest to bolster his complex characterizations. ‘Aarambam indre aagattum’ (Kaviyathalaivi), ‘Kaathodu thaan naan paaduven’(Velli
Vizha), ‘Maapillai ragasiyam sollava’(Arangetram), ‘Kalyanam Kacheri’(Sollathaan Ninaikkiren), ‘Adi ennadi ulagam’(Aval Oru Thodarkathai)--- all collaborations that have made history.

Take this SOTD as a paradigm of her artistry- see how whispery and demure she sounds as she begins with her soliloquy (vague memory of Jayabharathi enjoying a kuliyal in a kulam), and watch how as the song progresses to a joyous duet, LRE’s voice tumbles out of its coy chrysalis and metamorphoses into a high-spirited carnival of love.

The Concise Oxford Thesaurus gives multiple synonyms for the word ‘exuberance’ –exhilaration, joie de vivre, buoyancy, sparkle, liveliness, vivaciousness, ebullience, animation, zest--- In the annals of tfm, however, ‘exuberance’ will always have only a single synonym- LR Eswari.

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