S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Monday, 13 May 2013

A singer who sang the praise of his peers

By Vamanan

(Part 2 of a tribute to PB Srinivas)

Those where times when Kodambakkam resounded to all the Dravidian tongues and a dash of Hindi if you like, and films switched languages with ease (dubbing from language to another being a busy secondary industry), and Srinivas was not short of opportunities though recognition was in short supply. Srinivas had a mellifluous base voice, soft and staid but capable of subtle inflections (savour the ‘malligai’ in the later career-making hit, ‘Kaalangalil Aval Vasantham’, which sails so softly along G-R-S- R - G - R- S, like a closely woven string of jasmine buds. The king of Carnatic music in films, G. Ramanathan more than understood this aspect of the singer’s art and gave him some dainty songs. ‘Inbam pongum vennila’ in which the clarinet and strings shimmer with Srinivas and Sushila in Veerapandiya Kattabomman, ‘Kaniyo pago karkando’ in which Srinivas and MLV played melodic mesmers and of course the Subramanya Bharati winner in Kappaloattiya Thamizhan, Kaatruveliyidai Kannamma (which starts off from Mohanam and woos the suddha madhyamam and kakali nishadam in winning romantic strains). M.B. Srinivasan came up with a winsome melody from the Harikambhoji scale in the communist-powered debacle, Paadhai Theriyidhu Paar, pitching Srinivas and S. Janaki to a bewitching melody based on Gnanpeeth winner Jayakanthan’s rare lyric, Thennankeetru oonjalile. We may no more be able to witness the sparrow cradling on the coconut frond, but here is one ditty that will rock melody lovers for all time to time. Adi Narayana Rao, known for his predilection for the Hindusthani idiom, came up with winsome light melodies in Adhutha Veettu Penn, a storyline that came to Tamil from the original Bengali (Paasher Baadi) through Telugu (Pakkinti Ammaai). But none of all this made much difference to the singer’s career! Not until ‘Kaalangalil Aval Vasantham’ (Paava Mannippu), with its awesome pauses and lovely interludes on the harmonica, and an unforgettable lyric (Kannadasan taking off from Krishna’s assertion in the Gita that he is Margazhi among the months and concluding it with the reason for the hero’s enthusiastic song – ‘She has made me a poet’!). The song rode on the wings of a success and a musical wave of a new ‘light music’ and made a hundred flowers bloom for PBS.


  1. Isn't Thenangeetru Oonjaliley Valaji?

  2. There is use of shuddha madhyamam in certain phrases...rishabam in others. Thought better to indicate a scale rather than mention a raga.