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Song of the Day # 463

From: bb (@ on: Tue Jun 29 23:01:29 EDT 2004

Song of the Day: nee varuvaai ena naan irundhEn from Sujatha.


- Saravanan writes:

‘nee varuvaaiyena naan irundhEn’ from Sujatha. Sung by Kalyani Menon. Lyrics by Kannadasan. Music by MSV.

Sujatha (1980/ Sujatha Cine Arts) was the film from the Balaji stable that followed in the wake of the massive success of Billa. The film starred Shankar, Raveendar, Saritha, Rajalakshmi and others. I believe the film came and bit the dust even as Billa was nonchalantly notching record box office collections. Hastily inspired by Oru Thalai Ragam, Sujatha too was a tale of college romance with a tragic ending- cancer in this case snatches the life of Sujatha (In an interview, Saritha (who played the heroine Sujatha) recalled that she even tonsured her hair to portray the agony of chemotherapy)--but filmgoers refused to be wooed by a pathetic pretender when Oru Thalai Ragam was still running to packed houses.

* * * *

The fêted firm of Kannadasan & MSV set about working on a short and sweet album- SPB’s roguish ‘nadaiyalangaram naatiyamappa’ painted an engaging picture of frolicsome campus capers, while ‘engirundhO vandha paRavaigaLE’ (PS) was an emotive farewell paean. The highpoints of the album were, of course, the two versions of ‘nee varuvaaiyena’- the pleasing SOTD by Kalyani Menon, and a shorter pathos version, movingly rendered by Jayachandran—the thogayara that makes up most of the song, ‘antharanganeerkkuLathE poothezhundha thamaraigaL’, should have been a celebrated landmark in JC’s career, as his voice, bereft of any instrumental accompaniment, makes a lingering, haunting statement.

MSV fills this delightful song with dainty guitar bits and lilting flute notes. I particularly fall for the terrace-formation like tempo buildup that commences with ‘kaNgaL uRangavillai, imaigaL thazhuvavillai’; and upon reaching the summit with ‘vaaraayO,’ the gentle decent from the crescendo that the synthesizer facilitates back to the pallavi. The charanams too soar towards the end in similar alluring arrangements.

Towards the late 70s and later in the early 80s, some upcoming singers found themselves singing for MSV. T.L.Maharajan, Jolly Abraham, Seergazhi Sivachidambaram, B.S.Sasirekha, S.P.Shailaja, and even Bombay Jaishree bagged such prized opportunities. Kalyani Menon was among these beneficiaries, and though she has sung for many MDs, the SOTD remains the most popular song in her tfm career.

* * * *

Some years back, I was in Madras in December, and found myself, albeit unwillingly, chauffeuring my mother to various concert halls. And thus one balmy morning, we entered the Balamandir German Hall a little after the concert had commenced. I was soon spellbound by the song (‘evarani nirnayinchiri ra’, if I remember right), and was wondering about the vocalist who seemed quite familiar. And glancing at the programme, I was jerked out of my lethargy when I realized that the singer who was effortlessly traversing those intricate Harikhambodhi passages was none other than Kalyani Menon!

Kalyani Menon learned classical music from the famed guru ‘Sangeethabhooshanam’ M.R. Sivaraman Nair. She soon made a mark as a classical vocalist of merit and then gradually branched out into singing for films as well. ‘kanneerin mazhayathum’, the song that Kalyani sang for the legendary composer M.S.Baburaj in Ramu Kariat’s 1977 film Dweep, is a tender, tremulous song, punctuated by moments of moving poignancy.

She made her debut in Madras in 1977, through the famed Dhananjayan’s Malayalam dance drama ‘Magdalana Mariyam’ that was choreographed for Madras DD as part of the Vallathol Centenary celebrations. Kalyani sang Vallathol Narayana Menon’s lines that were set to tune by the Dhananjayans.

Kalyani’s first film song in Tamil was under IR’s baton, and the song ‘sevvaanamE ponmEgamE’, which she sang along with JC, T.L.Maharajan & B.S.Sasirekha in K.Balaji’s Nallathoru Kudumbam (1979), did find frequent airtime. And Balaji continued to ensure that Kalyani sang in some of his films in the early 80s- ‘nee varuvaaiyena’ (Sujatha/ 1980/ MSV), the
hilarious ‘Devadas’ dance drama (‘thaNNiya pOtta sandhOsham piRakkum’) that she sang along with Kamal (Savaal/1981/MSV), the breezy duet with SPB- ‘aei rajavE un rajathi’ (Vaazhve Mayam/1982/GA) and the reflective ‘vidhi varaindha paadhai vazhiyE’ (Vidhi/1984/S-G). Kalyani also sang a memorable duet with KJY for S-G – ‘naan iravil ezhuthum kavithai muzhuthum’ (Suba Muhoortham/1983). Another song that stays on in memory, thanks to Radio Ceylon, is Kalyani’s wonderful duet with JC ‘thEril vandhaaL dEvadhai, enai thEdi vandhaaL thaaragai’ (from an unreleased film called Mookuthi Meengal).

And Kalyani Menon was soon forgotten by tfm, and would have probably remained so, had not A.R. Rahman brought her back to sing ‘vaadi saathukkudi’ in Pudhiya Mannargal, and followed it up with giving her that ‘omana thingaL’ piece in ‘kuluvalilE’ (Muthu). Her recent songs for ARR include ‘alaipaayuthE kaNNa’ (Alaipaayuthe) and ‘adhisaya thirumaNam’ (Paarthaale Paravasam). Kalyani featured in ARR’s historical ‘Vandhe Maataram’ album; and also in Ussele, the album by Srinivas, in which Kalyani & Unnikrishnan sang Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s ‘eppO varuvaarO’ set to a modern beat.

Her talented son Rajeev Menon has never failed to acknowledge his mother’s constant encouragement and support for all his endeavors. As a mark of respect, when the audio cassette of his magnum opus Kandukkonden Kandukkonden was released in a grand function, Kalyani Menon was called to receive the first cassette from Kamalhasan. Kalyani had also made a brief appearance in the film as Aishwarya’s music tutor.

Rajeev has also gone on record that KK, though inspired from Sense & Sensibility, was also a reflection of their own coming up in life, as his widowed mother had single-handedly brought up her two sons.

More about Kalyani here:


And the music legacy continues too- Rajeev Menon sang a song ‘Kichu kichu moottuRiyE’ in the 2002 film Naina!

- Saravanan has been writing in detail on a song each week for a year now. We've gained a lot due to his immense knowledge and lucid writing style. Thanks a lot, Saravanan!

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