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Song of the Day # 658

From: bb on:  Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:12 pm 

Song of the Day: The title music and two songs from dhikkatRa parvathi.

- Saravanan writes:

The title music and two songs from dhikkatRa parvathi

Sung by Vani Jairam
Lyrics by C.Rajagoplachari
Music by Chittibabu

* * * *

‘Bharat Ratna’ Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari (1878- 1972) was a great man in every sense- a zealous patriot, a trail-blazing social reformer, perceptive thinker and profound scholar. And all these facets of Rajaji came to the fore when he put his pen to paper. Many of his literary efforts have won critical acclaim; Rajaji, the writer, had even been chosen for Sahitya Akademy Award. Most of us would have read some short story of his as part of what went by the name ‘Non-detailed’ (!) in our school days. Rajaji’s lucid translations of the Ramayana and Mahabharata will find place in most Indian households. His other popular works in English: “Hinduism- Doctrine & Way of Life” and translations and interpretations of Baja Govindam, ThirukkuRaL, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Geeta. His book on Marcus Aurelius is held as a celebrated treatise. His ‘Stories for the Innocent’ makes irresistible reading. He has written around 30 books in both English and Tamil. Many of his stories had social messages, espousing eradication of evils like untouchability and dowry. And in dhikkatRa parvathi, he advocated total prohibition, by detailing the havoc caused by drink.

It was this novella dhikkatRa parvathi that impressed Singitam Srinivasa Rao, and he decided to craft it in celluloid. Born on 21.9.1931 in Udayagiri in Nellore District, Singitam Srinivasa Rao graduated in Physics from the Presidency College, Madras. He had his tutelage in direction under the legendary K.V.Reddy, the director of classics like Maya Bazar. He made his debut with the President’s Gold Medal-winning Kannada film, Samskara (1970/ Ramamanohara Chitra) Though Pattabhirama Reddy was the director, most parts of the film were actually directed by Singitam (billed as “Executive Director!”) His first film as a full-fledged director was the Telugu film Neethi Nijayithi (1972/ Sri Sanjeevi Movies).

dhikkatRa parvathi (1974/ Navtharang) was his next venture. Rajaji’s novella was a poignant propagation of prohibition, and the young idealist Singitam was moved by Rajaji’s tale of the miseries that a woman faces due to her alcoholic husband. He was eager to make a movie of it, and in 1972, approached the doughty Rajaji for his approval. Singitam recalls that momentous encounter thus ``The general notion those days was that Rajaji hated films. So I told him I wanted to convert a story by somebody who hated films, into a film. Pat came the reply from Rajaji, ``Who said I hate films? I hate only bad films!'' Then he gave me permission to make my film”

Having secured the grand old man’s blessings, Singitam set about excitedly to work. Not content with merely giving his nod, Rajaji evinced keen interest in shaping the screenplay and then made Singitam’s cup of bliss full by writing the lyrics for the two songs that Singitam had planned on. Karaikudi Narayanan wrote the dialogues. Singitam picked on Srikanth and Lakshmi to play the lead roles. This was the first film in which Lakshmi got to essay a complex role, and Singitam extracted a memorable performance from that talented artiste. In the coming years, taking the cue from Singitam, Jayakanthan and Bhimsingh would also pick Srikanth and Lakshmi for their avant-garde collaborations- sila nErangaLil sila manithargaL and oru nadigai nadagam paarkiRaaL.

After knocking at a few doors, Singitam found in N. Lakshmikantha Reddy and H.V.Sanjeeva Reddy producers who were willing to fuel his enthusiasm and he made the movie well within the modest budget and envisaged timeframe. However, he could find no takers for his austere, brooding tale, and the film sat in the cans till 1974 when the Film Federation of India (as NFDC was previously called) came forward to buy the movie and distribute it.

Though the film, released on 14.6.1974, didn’t stay long enough to make a mark at the marquee, it earned critical acclaim in abundance. It won the National Award for the Best Tamil Film of 1974, and also won the Film Fare Award in the same category. And it also fetched Singitam the Film Fare Award for Best Director of that year. Singitam’s only regret was that Rajaji had passed on by the time the movie was made.

* * * *

Singitam himself boasts of a rich musical background. His mother Shakuntala Bai was a classical violinist of singular merit and Singitam grew up listening to the great classical masters of yore. He underwent formal training in classical singing under the famed MD Saluri Rajeswara Rao. In later years, Singitam even composed music for two films- bhagyada lakshmi baramma and samyukta.

And for the music for his dhikkatRa parvathi, Singitam approached the venerable vaiNika Chittibabu. Chittibabu was said to be a child prodigy who gave his first full-fledged performance when he was barely 12 years old. He was trained by the great Emani Sankara Sastri, and blossomed into one of the most celebrated veeNai players of his generation. While his traditional pieces are soul stirring, his innovative works like ‘Musings of a Musician’, ‘Solitude’, ‘Rhapsody’, ‘Rendezvous & Old Memories’, ‘Fairy Tale’, ‘Royal Salute’, ‘Temple Bells/Serenade’ etc showcase the genius in all his glory.

Chittibabu was no stranger to tfm- his veeNai was the mellifluous backbone of Sridhar’s kalaikkOyil. Besides dhikkatRa parvathi, Chittibabu composed music for a Kannada film- Sri Raghavendra Vaibhava (1980/ Jayashri Art International), which had the divine ‘nanna hrudaya veeNe meetti’ (Balamuralikrishna & S.Janaki)

The title track that Chittibabu composed for dhikkatRa parvathi is bewitchingly inventive, embellished with arresting passages of rich and varied fare, conveying so many moods like the seasons that change as the months roll by.

Title track

And Chittibabu sent for Vani to sing the two songs. dhikkatRa parvathi was among the earliest Tamil movies that VJ sang for. When we had a chat with VJ, she was amazed that these songs are still remembered! She said that it was an exciting experience to be singing for Chittibabu, and that she had greatly enjoyed rendering the two songs. She also expressed her distress at Chittibabu’s painstaking efforts going largely unnoticed.

aagayam mazha pozhinja’ is a such a joyous anthem of expectant motherhood. Like a bubbling brook, the composition meanders, taking so many delightful twists and turns in its unpredictable progress. VJ pulls this one off with characteristic grace, her ‘puLLa peRum kaalam vandha poNNukku koNdaattam’ opening vibrant vistas of pastoral beauty.

aagayam mazha pozhinja

‘enna kutRam seithEnO’ is a study in contrast, a song of stark, haunting despair. Rajaji was a good writer, as we have already seen, and his ‘kuRai ondRum illai’ is a song that has been immortalized by MS Subbulakshmi. Rajaji’s lines here too are soaked in poetic flourishes. VJ said that it was a great honour for her to have sung Rajaji’s lines.

enna kuRRam seithEnO

So listen to these tracks from this album, forgotten songs from a forgotten film… a coalescence of giants that somehow came a cropper...

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