The Hindu in its special supplement on MLV dated June 29th had an article on the special bond between Padmini and ML Vasanthakumari. The sheer volume of songs that the latter sang playback for the former’s onscreen presence is overwhelming. That left me wondering if MLV did sing any song for Savitri, Padmini’s illustrious (and let me add more talented) contemporary. I finally found this one song, which is a duet featuring MLV and P Leela.
The film, made in 1957 by Vedantam Raghaviah, had Telugu and Tamil versions. Titled Bhale Ammayilu/Iru Sahodarigal/and a ghastly Bravo Girls in English (only for credit purposes),it featured Savitri and a relatively less known actor called Girija in the leads. NT Rama Rao and Gemini Ganesan played the hero in the two versions respectively. A key character of a mridangam artiste was essayed by Relangi/TS Durairaj in the two versions. Not having seen either version I can only rely on Wikipedia which has entries on both . Whoever wrote the Tamil film’s entry needs some English lessons.
The song, Gopala Jagelara/thAyE un seyal allavO, with lyrics by Vempatti Sadasivabrahmam/Thanjai Ramiah Das, had music by S Rajeswara Rao and his brother Hanumantha Rao. I guess it made political sense in 1957 for a Telugu film producer to include a song praising Tamil in his production in that language. It is set as a Veena duet between Savitri and Girija, with mridangam accompaniment by Relangi/Durairaj. The principal raga is Mohanam and the svaras at the end go on to ShaNmukhapriya, kAmbOji and madhymAvati. The Telugu print featured above is perfect. Not so great is the Tamil version below:
You can make out that neither Savitri nor Girija had any idea as to how play the Veena and kept sliding their fingers on it, making up for much of the action by flashing their eyes at each other. And who plays the Veena sitting like that unless you are a Ravi Varma model or are afflicted with arthritis? In sharp contrast are the two men who play the mridangam. Both came from theatre backgrounds and were adept at playing instruments. Their hand movements are so good.
However, the singers are really the highlights. MLV, and a little less so P Leela, have given their best. Oh, by the way, Happy 90th Birthday MLV – I hope you are at peace wherever you are.
You may also want to read:
Stalking MLV in Delhi
Sangita Vani Vasanthakumari
From Manamagal to Mr Sampath
This article is part of a series I write on old film songs, chiefly Tamil and Hindi. You can read the earlier parts here
While this blog post in chiefly on MLV, since the instance of filmstars not having the faintest idea of playing their instruments onscreen is mentioned, I am compelled to add two instances. Make that three – the ones that *I* know and recall.
The first is, K.R.Vijaya in Mridanga Chakravarty. The chakravarthy (Sivaji of course) is supposed to fall in love with K.R.Vijaya (portrayed as an ace vocalist) singing sugamaana raagangaLE and her tala is COMPLETELY off!
The second instance concerns the violin. Two songs that immediately come to mind are two Rishi Kapoor movies where he ”plays” the instrument. One is Karz, in the prelude to the famous Dard de dil and the second is from the wonderful foot-tapping number Jeevan ke har mod pe from Jhoota Kahin Ka. But one gets the impression that Chintu perhaps doesn’t know much about the violin although he does his best to seem convincing I must admit.
The third song that I immediately recall is Teri Meri Yaari Badi Puraani from the Sanjeev Kumar – Sharmila starrer Charitraheen. In this song, a couple of guitarists are shown playing the guitar *lying down* on the floor! Not even Ravi Varma would have had such a fertile imagination methinks!
Sri Devi trying to play the veena in chinnanchiru vayadil (meendum kokila) is another instance. Bhagya Raj in Vidiyum Varai Kaatthiru does slightly better with the heroine singing a classical number (Abhinayam Kaattu) and playing safe by just alternating the beat with the veechu throughout the song! 🙂
I saw this just two days ago.
A brilliant effort to have posted both the versions.
Telugu version is far better; but both suffer from over-speed. The original song was slightly slower. The result of over-speed is artificial heightening of the pitch, robbing the song of its full melody. Anyway, thanks.
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