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Down melody lane...

"Ninaithalae Innikkum", presented by playback singers M. S. Viswanathan and T. K. Ramamurthy at the Kamaraj Memorial Hall was an aural treat featuring popular tunes of yesteryear.

THEY CALLED it "Ninaithalae Inikkum". And those assembled at the Kamaraj Memorial Hall that evening did savour it. The two giants of yesteryear cine music, M.S.Viwanathan and T. K. Ramamurthy, had come together on stage to present a musical extravaganza comprising their melodies. And the response from the audience made it clear that it was an unforgettable bonanza for the middle-aged and an enjoyable treat for the musically inclined youngsters. As the emcee of the evening, Abdul Hameed put it there is not one composer in the Tamil film industry today, who has not been influenced or inspired by the music of the "Mellisai Mannargal". A sentiment that A. R. Rahman had expressed at a concert in Singapore, he added. Incidentally, compering or anchoring, Abdul Hameed always seems to enjoy the task given. And that in itself helps a show to take off on a successful note.

The Rotary Club of T. Nagar Charitable Trust, in association with Rotary Club of Chennai Samudra, had organised the aural fiesta with Airtel, Zimson and Jaya TV as sponsors. The programme started off with the signature tune of the two-decade old blockbuster, "Ninaithalae Inikkum", sung by Kalpana and S.P. Balasubramaniam. Those of us who have watched MSV's stage and TV shows know that the man gets emotional every time he refers to `Kavignar' Kannadasan. So deep and sincere has been their association. It happened here too when he introduced the devotional number, written by Kannadasan and composed by Viswanathan. The song, originally sung by T. M. Soundararajan was presented by T. S. Raghavendar and MSV himself. T. S. Raghavendar is an actor too. So as he sang the MGR and Sivaji Ganesan hits, he mimicked their characteristic mannerisms (something he had successfully done in K. Balachander's "Sindhu Bhairavi"), thus adding pep to the proceedings.

The seeming spirit of solidarity that the Cauvery controversy has evoked among film folk was evident that evening. Taking the first few lines of the patriotic song, "Indhiya Nadu ... ", from the popular Sivaji starrer, "Bharatha Vilas", poet Kamakodiyan had brought in lyrics that stressed on the importance of sharing river waters and the significance of national integration. Kamakodiyan seems to have found a special place in MSV's melodic exercises - he had penned the lyrics for the musician's album of ghazals that was released recently.

S. P. Balasubramaniam is one singer who lifts every show that he is in, to incredible levels of enjoyment. Those who have followed the veteran's stage appearances over the years are only too familiar with his verve, ebullience and imaginative improvisations. And coupled with the zest of MSV who went round to the percussionists' side clapping and guiding them, particularly for the number, "Engaiyum ... Epodhum", the mood proved contagious.

It was a nostalgic moment for M. S. Viswanathan when he recollected the happenings during the composing of the lilting love song, "Vaan Nila". Those were the days when songs were recorded on a single track and music was not as techno-savvy as it is today, said SPB who had sung the song then. The two remembered the great talent of violinist Mani and MSV's assistant Joseph Krishna, who were part of the number. And as SPB walked away after "Vaan Nila", he turned around to the violinist who had played the solo and softly clapped in appreciation. Such gestures speak volumes about the grace and goodwill of a singer.

Surprisingly, L. R. Easwari looked as young and energetic as she did three decades ago. The voice was not equally co-operative, yet the effort warrants appreciation. The lady sang with gay abandon and not for a single number did she seek the help of the lyric books.

A typical case of `Like father like son' it was, when Sirgazhi Sivachidambaram sang his father's ever-popular songs, "Devan Kovil Mani Osai" and the romantic "Kadhalikka Naeramillai". When Venkatesh sang "Kalangalil Aval Vasantham... " it was as though P. B. Srinivas himself was on stage - the voice was so very similar. Anantharaman, who is a regular in MSV's concerts these days, might play second fiddle on stage but in his own quiet way also proves that he is a singer with potential. The programme did have its share of hiccups. Certain singers at times did go blatantly off key. And the cue was not always taken at the right moments. But what mattered was the all-pervading camaraderie, geniality and humility. Anyway such has been the norm at every MSV show - and "Ninaithalae Inikkum" was no exception.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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