MS Subbulakshmi: A journey from Kunjamma to Meera

December 11, 2016

A tribute on her birth centenary (16 September 1916 – 11 December 2004)

(About three months ago, there was a burst of discussion on SoY on MS Subbulaxmi, initiated by a new member RSR (RS Ramaswamy) to which many others joined. Shalan Lal posed a question why MS had not been covered yet on SoY. Around this time, I had come across an article on her in the Hindustan Times on the occasion of her birth centenary. N Venkataraman informed that he had collected some materials on her. While her birth centenary was passing by, he said he would be able to put out an article within the calendar year, which could be published on her death anniversary December 11. Thus, we have this wonderful article on her as a tribute to her in her centenary year.

The first person from the field of music to be conferred the highest civilian honour of Bharat Ratna, MS’s fame rests mainly as a doyenne of Carnatic classical music, but she has acquired an indelible image as Meera-incarnate among the people at large, not only for her role in the bilingual film Meera (Tamil/Hindi), but also for her Lord Venkatesh Suprabhatam, and the devotional songs and bhajans like Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu Sahasranamam etc. Her journey from Kunjamma to Meera is a saga of toil and struggle for perfection and rebellion against social prejudices. I am delighted that SoY is able to pay a worthy tribute to a great soul of India with thanks to Venkaramanji for this erudite article. – AK)

MS SubbulakshmiThe life of M S Subbulakshmi is an extraordinary story with all the elements of a fairy tale; a journey of a small-town singer who reached the pinnacle of glory.It was an extraordinary transition from what was good to what was moulded to be great to what became grand. Guy De Maupassant once wrote “Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe; it gives back life to those who no longer exist”. In keeping with the saying, this post is my humble effort to recount her life and her art, and thus pay my tributes to the celebrated musician Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi, on her birth centenary year.

M S Subbulakshmi or MS as she was popularly known as or Kunjamma as she was called in her childhood, was born to Shanmukhavadivu on 16th September 1916 in the ancient city of Madurai. Her roots can be traced to the Devadasi community (an ancient tradition) who dedicated themselves to the service of the temple gods. The Anti-Nautch Movement, which coincided with the Purity Movement in England in the last decade of the 19th century, brought in a vast change. Ritual dancing almost came to an end by this time. But the all-round training they had received in music stood in good stead at their hour of need.

Since MS was born in a class of temple singers, it was natural for her to identify with her matrilineal lineage. MS’s mother Shanamukhavadivu was an eminent veena artist and MS’s maternal grandmother, Akkammal was a violinist. Although Madurai Pushpavanam Iyer (a distinguished Carnatic musician) was referred to as MS’s father, as per T J S George the biographer of M S Subbulakshmi, ‘MS herself had gone on record saying that Subramania Iyer was her father. There the matter should rest’. She lost her father at the age of ten. MS’s sister Vadivambal was a promising veena player but her life and career were cut short untimely. Her brother Saktivel was a mridangam artist and had accompanied MS in the early years of her career. MS received her initial training in music from her mother and later she was trained by Srinivasa Iyengar, who passed away soon. Later in life, even after becoming the doyenne of Carnatic music, she had no hesitation in learning to sing kritis (Carnatic classical songs) from her contemporaries like Thanjavur Brinda, Musiri Subramania Iyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Among others who helped her to build up her vast repertoire were Dilip Kumar Roy, Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas and Vidushi Siddheswari Devi. She gave her first performance in Madurai at the age of ten and cut her first disc at Bangalore at the age of thirteen.

After the demise of MS’s father, Shanmukhavadivu along with MS shifted to Madras. MS was 12 years old then. Madras was the new cultural and music capital, replacing the ancient city of Thanjavur. Mylapore was the home of the Brahmin male vidwans, who dominated the classical music scene, and George Town became the home of the women musicians from the Devadasi community. Her natural talent and beauty made her vulnerable in a ruthless male world. At this stage she needed the benefaction of the Sabhas, the new platform providing patronage to art and culture. In 1932, her performance at the Kumbakonam Mahamaham festival attracted appreciation from various artists and paved the way for her first major concert in Madras. In 1935, MS was at the prestigious Music Academy’s annual season and that year she was one of the few singers who came in for praise from the press and the public. And, later on in the year 1968, when she was honoured with the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi, the first woman to be conferred with this title by the Music Academy, she acknowledged that in conferring this honour on her the academy has sought to honour the womanhood of this country. With her immense talent and golden voice, aided in no small measure by the managerial abilities of T Sadasivam, MS’s popularity graph soared from 1937 onwards. Within ten years of her arrival in Madras she became the reigning queen of melody appreciated by the connoisseurs and the commoners alike.

The year 1936 can be considered as the turning point of her life. She met T Sadasivam, 14 years elder to MS. He was a freedom fighter, working for the popular Tamil magazine Ananda Vikatan. T Sadasivam was taking enormous interest in her career and this led to her first film opportunity. Seva Sadanam was published as a weekly serial in Ananda Vikatan, translated from the novel, Bazar-e-Husn, written by Munshi Premchand. K Subramaniyam, well-known producer-director of south Indian movies then, wanted the rights of the story. Sadasivam struck a deal that MS should act in the movie. Shanmukhavadivu didn’t agree to this and MS took the courageous decision to leave her home and landed in Sadasivam’s residence in Triplicane, much to the chagrin of Sadasivam’s mother and wife. This landmark film was close to MS’s heart. The story dealt with marital issues, domestic abuse, prostitution and women’s liberation. One of the early Tamil films set in a contemporary social settingand to advocate reformist social policies, the film and her songs became immensely popular. The success of the film further heightened MS’s popularity.

Thus we come to the first songof this post from her first film Seva Sadanam (1938). MS had trained under the guidance of Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas for a brief period. The song was adapted from a Bhajan sung by Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas. I could not find any video link to this song. Here is an audio link to the song from Seva Sadanam. To listen to the song please click against song number 7.

Shyamsundara Kamalvadana, film Seva Sadanam (1938), lyrics and music Papanasam Sivan

http://mio.to/album/Sevasadanam+%281939%29

The bhajan rendered by Pt. Narayan Rao Vyas

https://soundcloud.com/archive-of-indian-music/prof-narayan-rao-vyas-shyam

Buoyed by the success of Seva Sadanam, Sadasivam decided to turn to production and launched Sakuntalai with MS in the title role. Their association with the American director Ellis R Dungan began with this film. And then there was GN Balasubramaniam, or GNB, as he came to be called – a dashing and handsome musician, six years older than MS. She was mesmerized by GNB’s unrivalled singing style. By the time they started working together for Sakuntalai, MS’s reverence for GNB had blossomed into a full-fledged affair of the heart. The feeling was mutual, as evident from the fact that he kept all her love letters (written between 1939 and 1940) safe, until the end of his life. But things took a different turn. Sadasivam rushed through his marriage (10th July 1940) with MS, soon after his first wife’s tragic death. Thus her romantic affair with GNB came to a rather abrupt end. The film Sakuntalai was released in 1940 and had 24 songs mostly sung by MS, including two duets with GNB, and all of them were hits.

My next song is from her second film Sakuntalai (1940). Here MS by way of her beautiful rendition does full justice to the wonderful lyrics and music. The first line of the song goes like this “I surrender to the all-encompassing Nadabrahmam”, the primordial sound.

Engum nirai Nadabrahmam, film Sakuntalai (1940), lyrics Papanasam Sivan, music Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma

The tune of the above song was adapted and used in the Hindi version of the film Meera (1947).Thus we enter into the sphere of Meera. Unable to accept Meera’s single-minded devotion to Lord Krishna, a distressed Rana, orders the demolition of the temple at Chittorgarh by use of cannon and sends his brother Vikram to execute the job. Meanwhile, Rana comes to know from his sister the failed attempt earlier by Vikram to poison Meera and the truth dawns on him. He rushes to the temple to stop the demolition and in the process gets injured. Meera declares to Rana that she has failed as a wife and queen and she expresses her desire to leave for Dwaraka in response to the call from Lord Krishna. Here MS playing the role of Meera renders the song Mere to Giridhar Gopal doosaro na koi.

In the meantime MS acted in the role of Narada, in Savitri (1941). A mythological, Savitri, attracted considerable attention. Savitri had many songs, mostly sung by MS and some by Shantha Apte, who played the title role. Then Meera came. The film was produced by T Sadasivam under the banner Chandraprabha Cinetone. ‘Kalki’ Krishnamoorthy and T Sadsasivam wrote the script. In the Hindi version Amrit Lal Nagar was part of the team. Ellis R Dungan was the director for both the versions. Dilip Kumar Roy played a vital role in the selection and composition of the songs for the Hindi version. Naresh Bhattacharya, G Ramanthan and Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma were part of the music team. And Paapanasam Sivan and Pt. Narendra Sharma were part of the lyrics section. The Tamil film was released on the Deepavali day, in the year 1945, followed by its Hindi version two years later on 5th December 1947 at the Plaza Theatre, New Delhi. This was her only Hindi Film and her last film too. The film Meera and its songs propelled her to national fame. I would like to present some of the songs out of the 15 exceptional solos she rendered for the film Meera. People may have complained about MS’s accented Hindi, but they adored her music, its mellifluousness and its sanctity.

Even after her marriage to Rana of Mewar, against her wishes, Meera’s love for Lord Krishna remains unaltered. Soon after her marriage, Meera, while wandering around the royal gardens, entranced by the drifting sweet melody of the flute, renders this beautiful song. A perennially popular song, Kaatriniley Varum Geetham, is said to be adopted from a Bengali song sung by Juthika Roy. Here is the immortal number from the Tamil Version.

MS stands unparalleled in her bhakti and devotion. Maybe it was the presence of the implied shringara rasa transformed into bhakti in her music. Let us listen to the equally enchanting Hindi melody, Hari aawan ki awaaz, aaj suni mein.

Responding to the request from Meera and out of his love for his wife, Rana constructs a temple for Krishna at Chittorgarh, capital of Mewar. Much to the disappointment of Rana, Meera spends most of the time in the temple, singing in praise of Lord Krishna along with the other devotees. Kannan leelaigal chaivane is one such song rendered by MS (with chorus) in the Tamil version. In this song we can find the touch of Dilip Kumar Roy.

Let us listen to the Hindi version of the song Mane chaakar raakhoji.

Meera is criticized by the royal family for her unworldly ways. To get rid of her, Vikram gives poisoned drink to Meera through his sister, but Meera is saved by the grace of Lord Krishna. Krishna’s idol at Dwaraka turns blue due to the effect of the poison. The temple door closes spontaneously and remains shut till Meera reaches Dwaraka (at the end of the film). Meera expresses her gratitude to Giridhari for saving her life by rendering this song Aaravene…. Giridhari unadhu arule.

Now I present the Hindi song, Pag ghunghroo re set to the situation mentioned above. During the filming of Meera, the Maharana of Udaipur said to MS and her husband “In the olden days I would have exchanged my whole kingdom for her singing. Now I shall give you whatever help you need by way of horses and elephants for the shooting.”  This incident speaks volumes about the beauty and grace of her music which over a period of time matured into greatness. Let us listen to the song. I am presenting an audio of this song recorded much later, since the video of the film, available in YT, ends abruptly.

Legend has it that the Mughal Emperor Akbar, on hearing about Meera’s singing and devotion to Lord Krishna, accompanied by Man singh, travelled all the way from Delhi to Chittogarh in disguise to see and listen to Meera, with an offering of a pearl necklace as gift. The song Unnaiye enathu uyir thunai enru is set to this situation. Another superb song. The polarities of seeking and finding, loss and conquest, desire and fulfillment are realised in her rendition and the lyrics. The song comes after a viruttam/ aalap Characharam unnaiyavum thedume.

In the Hindi version, the song Main Hari charanan ki daasi is set to the same situation. Please listen to this captivating song.

After the cannon incident (mentioned earlier), Meera leaves Chittor in quest of her beloved Lord Krishna. On reaching Brindavan, on her way to Dwaraka, she breaks into another enthralling song, laden with spiritual ecstasy. The Tamil song Brindavanathil Kannan valarndha.

Followed by the Hindi version Yaad aavey, Brindavan ki mangal leela set to the same situation and tune.

The next pair of melodious songs is set to the situation where Meera leaves Brindavan for Dwaraka to attain her ultimate goal. The Tamil song Enggum niranithaye followed by the Hindi song Kunjan ban chhaadi he Madho kahaan jaaun.


In the decade 1935-44, we find MS in a different mode, a defiant and daring woman who could walk out of her maternal home for a career in films, a woman afflicted by love, who loved all good things in life. MS was a sensitive person and she was saddened by the gossips/ scandals doing round in the local magazines/Journals. All this started changing in 1944 and ended in 1947. With Meera came the transformation of MS. MS’s aesthetic changeover was clearly visible,the transcendence and actualizing Meera in herself. She deeply immersed herself in the role of Meera and that association would never leave her. Meera was a national success, launching a small-town south Indian singer into the national headlines. Sadasivam ensured that MS never acted again, thus etching the image of Meera, an image of divinity and dignity, forever on the frame of MS. Thus the makeover from Kunjamma to Meera was complete.

And the journey after………

MS was primarily a Carnatic classical singer who also acted in a few films. I would not discuss her Carnatic classical songs here, nor would I present any of her renditions form this genre. If any of the readers feel like, we can bring in this genre for discussion in the comments section. The image of Meera would never leave her, and there was never a concert which did not have Meera bhajans. MS also rendered and recorded a wider repertoire of Bhakti Sangeet, including the works of Tulsidas, Kabir, Nanak, Surdas, Tukaram, Narsi Mehta and other composers. She also learned Rabindra Sangeet. Thus she acquired many identities in her music. I would post a few of her non film bhajans.

A Tulsidas Bhajan, Shri Ramachandra kripalu bhaja mana, preceded by a Shloka / Stotram.

In MS’s singing there is a partnership between the singer and the sung which arises from the depth of her being. A false note from MS was unimaginable. There could not be any slip, her concerts had to be as impeccable as her personality. In my next offering a Surdas bhajan, Ankhiyan Hari darsan ki pyasi, at the end of the clipping /rendition you can notice MS (4:25), giving a rebuking look, when Radha Vishwanathan slips / falters and goes off key.

MS’s association with Dilip Kumar Roy is well known and needs no further elaboration. Indira Devi, a trained and accomplished dancer, who later left everything to become a Yogi and a disciple of Dilip Kumar Roy, had penned few devotional numbers. My next presentation, Ghunghroo baandh pag ayi Meera, a Bhajan penned by Indira Devi and set to music by Dilip Kumar Roy.

During the course of filming of Meera, MS came into the national limelight, attracting the attention of Mahatama Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu and others. She was handpicked by Gandhi to sing two of his favourite Bhajans, Hari Tum Haro jan ki Bhirh and Vaishnava jana to. My last offering would be the Bhajan, Vaishnava jana to penned by Narsi Mehta.

MS received many an accolades including the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1974 and Bharat Ratna in 1998. After the death of her husband T Sadasivam in November 1997, she stopped all her public performances. MS left for her heavenly abode on 11th December 2004. Thus an era ended.

Borrowing from T M Krishna, an eminent Carnatic musician of this era and a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee this year, I quote:

“Every time she sang, she allowed every moment of her life experience to imbue the melody, letting go of all her inhibitions, abstracting herself into the raga. Once in a great while, we experience an unadulterated sense of what is real, so tender and vulnerable that our fences break down when it touches us, and we see ourselves like never before. MS, more than any other musician, can gift us these moments of self-realisation.”

Thus I bring to close my post on M S Subbulakshmi.

Shubham

I have hinged heavily on a few books, articles and writings from various magazines and internet for doing this post. I have simply gathered materials/ information collected from various sources and collated/ arranged them in a best possible way known to me and the real credit goes to the authors of these books and articles. I owe responsibility for any mistakes or wrong information

Acknowledgements & References:
1.    Menon, Indira. The Madras Quartet: Women in Karantak Music. Indira Menon. Roli Books
2.    George, TGS. MS, A life in Music.  Harper Collins Publishers India
3.    Articles/writings of Gowri Ramanarayanan, grandniece of M S Subbulakshmi and author of the book MS and Radha: Saga of Steadfast Devotion, New Horizon Media, Chennai, published under the auspices of the Suswaralakshmi Foundation for Classical Music and Performing Arts
4.    Krishna, TM. MS understood. The Caravan
5.    Dhananjayan, G. Pride of Tamil Cinema: 1931 to 2013. Chennai:Blue Ocean Publishers
6.    Talks by V Sriram on MS, (author of Carnatic Summer: Lives of twenty Great Exponents) published in Rasika.org
7.   Ramakrsihan, Nivedita. MS Subbulakshmi’s Hindi Meera. Cinemacorridor.blogspot.in
8.  Saregama Tamil, Alkananda 2007, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and other uploader(s) of the songs

Let me convey my wholehearted thanks to all of them. My apologies to the authors and writers of those books and articles, whom I might have inadvertently missed out or failed to remember.

{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 RSR December 11, 2016 at 9:31 am

First, I am really and hugely surprised by an insignificant new entrant ( me) being given special mention. in the introduction. Thank you. ..However, I have a few issues with this article. Let me elaborate. Normally, I have great revulsion to people who bring in their ‘Royal We’ in discussing anything. But, unless I speak of my personal experience, I wonder if I can really convey what I have in mind. . I am now 75 years old . My introduction to the music of MS was at the tender age of 4.( she was the same age as my mother and though I was never in the habit of thinking of her as MSAmma till very recently, ( she was always simply MS to our generation , that itself was like mentioning the name of a Goddess), of late, I too have begun to think of her as MSAmma (why not? Even Dr.Abdul Kalam, eleven years my senior, thought of her as one of his mothers ( the others being his own and Mother Thereasa), through the film Meera (Thamizh) of which my mother was a huge devotee. ‘Fan’ is not an adequate word for our veneration. We had a gramophone/loudspeaker lending company opposite to our residence and they used to play MS Meera songs every day . The film had been released in 1945 and those years from 1940 to 1947 were very turbulent times, due to the Second World War, Quit India movement, evacuation of Chennai(!), and huge suffering of people especially in North due to communal strife, (especially in Bengal) and perhaps due to all these reasons, common people found a lot of resonance in the Baktha Vijayam episodes ( the chronicle of Maratha Bakthi movement). It is very easy for the present generation to scoff at it as mere superstition, but for most humans under terrible physical and emotional stress, it is very natural to yearn for supernatural intervention. to save them from misery. Film makers used many stories from Bagavatham and Baktha Vijayam, and vaishnavite themes were very much in vogue in film circles. Musiri ‘s Thukaram’, Nagaiah’s Chakradhari, the classic Ramarajya , and of course Meera were very much loved by people, despite the atheist movement in tamil province , ( to real theists of Bakthi movement , any propaganda clubbing of caste oppression with religious faith was pure rubbish as the foremost exponents of anti-casteism like Barathy and Gandhiji were theist to the core!). Even Haridas was a story from Baktha Vijayam. .. To resume, all the lovely songs in Meera had got ingrained in my brain cells , still are there and will be there for ever. Even if MS had not sung anything else, she would be the only vocalist for me. At that age, I did not know anything about the ragams or even about the great literary loveliness of Kalki’s divine lyrics or of S.V.Venkataraman’s inspired orchestration and music score. . For me, MS meant her gramophone records. I did not even remember her appearance in the film . Did not know much of her Hindi Meera songs either. . But immediately after joining highschool ( 1951), I had become aware of her great many 78 rpm non-film records which were regularly played in radio and even in street corners. This article does not mention any of them . They were poems composed by Kalki on Barathi ( Dheyvath thamizh nattinilae, Thavamum palitthathamm, ) on Gandhiji’s passing away ( Itthanai Naal annnapinnum, Manilatthai Vazhavaikka), on Thamizh by Barathy ( Yamarintha Mozhikalilae, Senthamizh nadenum ) , Barathy on Indian Nation( Mannum Imayamali, oLi padaittha kanninay) , all are immortal gems. She also sang Vandadum solai, vanatthin meethu. . People who rave now about MS classical singing, either do not know about these songs or have a snobbish indifference to anything outside the concert halls. and during the last 60 years, some of the songs were in danger of getting laid to rest from public memory. Saregama itself had the good taste to name them ‘MS OLD GEMS’ ( Even now I think, a gem ‘Mannum Imayamalai’ of Barathi, especially sung and recorded on the eve of First republic day, is not available with saregama. ). I think, MS bajans which might have been composed and taught to MS by Kamaldas Guptha , ( maiyn nir guniya, ram milanke 1949) are almost unknown to the present generation of MS devotees . And the immortal Pyare Dharsan composed by SV VENKATARAMAN and Hari Thum Haro/ Vaishnava Jnatho composed by a genius mystic Piano Vaidhyanathan ( remoji), Vandhe Matharam and Dhano Dhnaya duets with Dilip Kumar Roy,,, unfortunately, or otherwise, they do not fall within either film music or concert music category. and was shocked that a very well-informed rasika dismisses my mention of these as ‘film music’ little understanding that all 78 rpm records are not to be treated as film music. .. Would you believe it? For years upto 1975, we could not see Meera film anywhere! For some reason, it had been withdrawn from circulation and there was no TV. . So, my acquaintance with the personality of MS was purely through these records and a few radio concerts. During the early sixties, I had developed better awareness of ragams and came to know of Hindi Meera songs .First thing that I did on getting my salary , as a maintenance engineer was to go to Saraswathi Store in Madras Parry’s corner, pester the manager and get the whole set of Hindi Meera and Tamil Meera song 78 rpm records. Still ,MS was to me , just her songs. and a very few photos only. .. That is the MS that I adore and cherish in my heart. For ever. Who knew or cared about her childhood, or family life? … I still remember , the day on which I heard her rendering ‘Nenjukku neethiutym’ in radio for the first time and was in ecstatic trance throughout. And then came ‘Vadavaraiyai Mathakkai’ ragamalika, a song from the greatest Tamil Epic Silappathikaram by Ilnago Adikal, .set to music by SVVenkataraman ( a ragamalika) the very best of a tamil vaishavaite hymn, I can only have pity for people who say they are MS fans without having in mind either her meera film songs or these non-film 78 rpm songs. . Only recently, we are able to get MS divine images ( how absolutely lovely) from google. and more information about her rise to greatness. …… )
Frankly, I despise all who bring in the so called caste background of our goddess MS. The proper caste name of MS ‘s community is ‘Isai Vellaalar;.. a community devoted to practicing and preserving the cultural traditions be in classical music or classical dance. I would say, that traditionally, it was this community that preserved classical music through the temple Nagaswaram players and ‘othuvars’ in temples ( hymn singers).
for close to 900 years ! ( pallava rule 600 AD through the great Imperial Cholas of 1000 AD to Nayak rule of Krushnadevaraya 1500 – Purandharadasa around 1500) The trinity , Sadasiva brammendram, Swathi thirunaal, all were contemporaries ( 1750-1850)..Strange coincidence,,, Naik and Maratha rule in Circar province, Mysore and Taavancore cochin. ( but I leave it to historians)..

It was this period that is accepted as the starting point of so-called carnatic orthodox music. It was only after this period, classical music came to be much too closely associated with brahmins. Not to deny the role played by them through powerful and learned ministers/ scholars like Govindha Dhikshithar , possibly aided by their mastery of Sanskrit language and contact with the Northern traditions especially the Sathavahana and Guptha traditions , The southern states have hoary past of many centuries and it is the height of folly to assume that classical music began with this age. That again is a matter for serious historians.

MS ‘s mother ShanmugaVadivu was a famous Veena player. It is unfortunate that women of this community were denied the status of a wedded wife but it does not mean that they were not loyal, dignified and unwed wives . In the first flush of English education , the legal profession was very lucrative and most of the lawyers were from brahmin community and being part landlords too, they became patrons for budding artists, replacing the feudal barons. That was a healthy development.
Do these people who presume to write about MS and Sadasivam, know anything about Sadasivam’s life as a revolutionary patriot and follower of one of the noblest patriots of Tamilnad…Subramanya Siva, a close associate of V.O.Chithambaram Pillai, venerated by Marathi and Benagali revolutionaries of 1907 days? Have you seen how trim, handsome, aristocratic and noble0looking Sadasivam was in 1935 and ever was? ( he was around 33 then). MS was a child prodigy and Sadasivam met her to interview her for Ananda Vikatan magazine run by Vasan. in 1936 Do you know that MS was 20 then and in her cultural milieu , where all the famous musicians visited her humble but sacred home of music, do you think, she did not come under the nationalist aspirations? or uninfluenced by Natiolaist Harikatha exponent Saraswathi Bai? Use your imagination and place yourself in that decade when idealism and patriotism were aflame everywhere and give more credence to the version that MS and Sadasivam were ideological soul mates.. Trace their life together from 1936 onward and see how much their thoughts and actions are in sync, naturally .
Now, what are my issues with this article? a) I hate George. Ostensibly, he has written a book eulogizing the angel but has put a drop of deadly poison in a cup of milk. but George is a just a scandal-mongering journalist, who will be forgotten in a few years but MS will be forever, a symbol of all that is noblest in our tradition. . She is by no means any symbol of ‘Women Liberation’. If anything, she is as much a role model of how a lady artiste should and can balance her public-cultural life and her traditional household life, as another Divinity DK.Pattammal is. . Evena Sruthi magazine editor and husband of Gowri, Sri.Ramnarayan, drops in a phrase ;incestuous’ while talking about the present ‘cultural’ environment. It is this ‘chaste ‘ gang that throws mud on MS. ..
TV and Youtube are working havoc. and see Madhe Malayadhvaje Why do we need Videographing of concerts? Even MS Amma who never lets go a disparaging word about others, is reported to have laughed as never before on the ;makeup of young artistes. Gowri half jokingly says’ MS was ‘ulaka mahaap paerazhagi’. Yes.

We are discussing music here and much as I respect the author for his musically well 0informed comments in many blog posts, he should not have freely strewn damning adjectives about the lady venerated by millions. Quoting some goossipy and arrogant sources does not absolve us. We must scrupulously avoid such overebearing attitude. Even Gandhiji is supposed to have had a soft corner for Sarala Devi, a highly intellectual and revolutionary nephew of Tagore. Tongues wagged because commoners cannot understand Intellectual intimacy. as that between Jawahar and Lady Mountbatten. Scandal mongering has become the norm in biographic research. Add the name of some damned Yankee university and the writings are swallowed.
Pray, do not imagine that I am a ‘bakthi’ devotee of MS. Her voice and culture assumed a definite form in 1940. and under the guidance of Sadasivam ( a scholar, singer, patriot, script-writer , everything mind you !), and Kalki, her caliber was rising day-by-day upto 1956. ( 24 t0 40). Kalki unfortunately passed away in 1955. With accompaniment with her daughter ( yes Sir, Radha loved MS and viceversa.. MS took charge of Radha as early as 1836, when Radha was a mere child of 2). MS went on increasing her repertoire and mesmerized the listeners. with Purandharadasa sahithyams. ideally suited to her appraoxch. And then came her National Integration LP sometime in 1970. … It is not beacuse she was awarded Magsdayasay award, or performed overseas in USSR, UK, USA and UN headquaters that I venerate her. All those awards mean little to her. She earned in crores but gave away everything in charity. then and there . .. She was a glowing picture of tranquil loveliness
And now comes the sad part. At one stage, very late ( around 1986 ( she was 70 then), MS began to give less importance to music than to bakthi. By no stretch of imagination, can we call all those devotional records ( like bajagovindam, vishnusahasranamam, etc…Hanuman Chalisa may be exception), and even a lifelong devotee of MS Amma like me cannot but wish that she had desisted from spoiling her original Hindi Meera bajans and Vandhematharam/ DhanoDhanya with concert and records very late when the voice had become so tired and heavy.
To end this in a lighter vein, are you not with me in thinking that famous people should retire at their zenith and not at the nadir? Dont you think, Sachin should have retired long back? Is Lata of 1970 /2016 any match for Lata of 1950? Neither too early not too old.. All else is a mere bow to conventional opinion rather than truth. … All these outpourings , I have given shape in my website to hounour MS . , for those who have not heard her best with a request to Saregama to condone my ‘infringement’ if any and requesting them to place all her 78 rpm records in public domain . I find the cover design of Sakunthalai songs donated by Saregama and placed in youtube, revolting. ( why GNB picture in a song solo by MS? ..pandering to gossip? Even the GNB picture is not decent! ) . Genuine rasikas of Sakuthalai songs can come out with more artistic and decent cover picture. Saregama…just release the license. We will take care of the rest.

https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/61-shayamasundara-tilang
Eternal thanks to Niveditha Ramakrishnan ( alaknanda2007) for having gifted her meera hindi tresaure to us.
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi
https://sites.google.com/site/meera1947film
https://sites.google.com/site/meera1945tamil

2 Shalan Lal December 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Congratulations to Venkatraman for bringing in such illustrious article on a great illustrious artist. It will take a few more re-readings to present full comentry. There is another article in the form of comment by RSR that too will a few re-readings to say any valid comment.

Shalan La

3 ASHOK M VAISHNAV December 11, 2016 at 4:04 pm

MS deserves all the accolades that can ever be showered.
SoY and Venkatramanji – our sincere thanks for putting in so many details on one page.

4 mumbaikar8 December 11, 2016 at 9:15 pm

Venkataramanji,
In this month of” anniversaries of calamities” one after the other, Union Carbide, Babri Masjid, Pearl Harbor and Tsunami this anniversary article came in as a great morale booster.
Thanks.
Thanks AK.
Understanding and appreciating it will take a very long time.
Thanks once again

5 Anu Warrier December 12, 2016 at 2:37 am

A very well-written article, Mr Venkatraman. For me, there’s no other other suprabhaatam than MS’s.

Thank you.

6 Raghavan vasudevan December 12, 2016 at 3:58 am

A great article on a very great person and a singer. MS voice is matchless
and divinity attached to the voice no other singer has. People in South knows more about her and this article will help our SOY members more about MS.

Kurai onrum ellai……… a devotional number will move even a merciless person. If one understands the meaning of the song, tears bound to come
in the listners eyes.

Thanks very many Mr Venkatraman for penning this article and
to put it across electronically in SOY.

7 Arunkumar Deshmukh December 12, 2016 at 5:27 am

My thanks to shri Venkataraman ji, for this wonderful article on a singer who crossed all barriers of race, caste, language, regions and even countries, due to her divine singing.
Thanks AK ji for planning this and getting the most suitable person to write on her
-AD

8 N Venkataraman December 12, 2016 at 8:46 am

Mr R S Ramaswamy,

Thanks for sharing your personal experience and your views and feelings on MS and the post.

Responding to some of the points you have stated;

I have not mentioned anything about the gramophone records that meant a lot to you and many during her pre –film days nor have I posted any of those songs. Very true and a valid point too. These records were the gateway to her initial popularity in the south. My primary concern, while doing this post, was how to make it relevant to the members of the SoY, especially to those who do not belong to the south. To address the well informed South Indian readers will be like carrying coal to Newcastle. But, I do agree that at least I could have mentioned them, but this post was, as it is, very long by SoY’s standards. So I had to prune a lot of materials that I had initially assimilated, while editing. But you have more than compensated by filling the gap on this particular point as well as other information which I could not accommodate and added a lot of value to this post by way of your contribution. I was aware of these songs and I was in a MS’s mood and had a wonderful time listening to her songs while doing this post. In fact Mr D P Rangan had provided me with materials on this subject, which unfortunately I could not use.

I respect your adoration and reverence for MSAmma, as much as I respect MS, a goddess for very many. If I have failed to express my tributes and respects in a more appropriate manner, I would attribute it to my lack of resourcefulness.

I meant no disrespect to her while mentioning her background. In fact my 1st draft had mentioned in some detail the traditions and history of “Devaradiyal” system and withering away of the system after they gradually lost the royal patronage in course of history, and the trials and tribulations the women of this community had to undergo, especially during the Anti- Nauthch movement. I though its mention would be of relevance. Even I had a discussion with Anandaswarupji, who had suggested some more reading material on this subject during his visit to Kolkata in November. But, for reasons mentioned earlier, I had to crop this too.

Again for the same reasons I did not write in detail about Sadasivam and his life as a revolutionary patriot, a follower of Subramanya Siva. Since my focus was MS, I had briefly touched upon Sadasivam’s role in MS’s life.

Inferring from your question, I presume that the points mentioned above were not the exactly issues related to this article, just-points presented to me to ponder over, let me now try to address your question of contention

“Now, what are my issues with this article?”

“a) I hate George. Ostensibly, he has written a book eulogizing the angel but has put a drop of deadly poison in a cup of milk. but George is a just a scandal-mongering journalist, who will be forgotten in a few years but MS will be forever, a symbol of all that is noblest in our tradition.”

With due respects to you Sir, you have every right to hate George and neither I have any love for him nor hate. I have just tried to go through as many writings/ articles on MS that I could access, in the process of doing this post and enhance my knowledge and George is only one among them. As you have mentioned that he has written a book eulogizing the angel but has put a drop of deadly poison in a cup of milk. But what can a drop of poison do to the image of the angel called MS. Even a cup/bowl of poison given to Meera could not do any harm to her. MS is MS. She does require the awards and adoration to enhance her image or any attempt to inject venom, if any, cannot alter the veneration of the millions. She was an epitome of pristine purity both in her music as well as in life.

The most serious issue you have cited, I quote
“We are discussing music here and much as I respect the author for his musically well informed comments in many blog posts, he should not have freely strewn damning adjectives about the lady venerated by millions. Quoting some goossipy and arrogant sources does not absolve us. We must scrupulously avoid such overebearing attitude.”

I deduce that your genuine anguish arises out two portions of my post,

When I mentioned her emotional bonding with GNB, I meant no aspersions to her in any way. I do not find anything wrong for a young lady in her twenties falling in love with a handsome actor and an exceptional singer. I do not consider it as a scandal at all. It was a normal act and MS was a normal woman. Then her subsequent decision to marry Sadasivam was her independent decision, based on her sound judgement and not taken under any undue duress. I very much respect her act, as that of a normal human being, as much as I venerate her post-Meera revelation.

In a similar way, when I wrote MS as a defiant, and daring women etc etc. I meant no irreverence to her, in fact I admired her courage in walking out of her maternal home for a career in films. Else had she accepted her mother’s proposal to get married to a rich man of the business community, her life would have taken a different turn. Keeping in mind the period in which she showed the courage to take a daring decision to carve out a career for her, her act was admirable. On the contrary if my choice of words and expression had conveyed an overbearing attitude and carried a different meaning than that I mean to, I express my deepest regret.

Finally I would conclude by saying that I was always delighted to listen to her songs whether it was rendered in her twenties or 70s. I once again express sincere reverence for MS.

Thank you Sir for pointing out my deficiencies and adding value to the post.

9 N Venkataraman December 12, 2016 at 9:31 am

Thank You Shalanji for the encouraging response.

In fact the discussion between Mr. RVR and Ranganji, on MS and Meera, heralded this post. And finally your comment spurred me to do this post.

Will look forward to your commentary.

10 N Venkataraman December 12, 2016 at 9:34 am

Ashokji
Thank a lot for your response.

11 N Venkataraman December 12, 2016 at 9:36 am

Mumbaikarji
Hope you will come back after going through the post. Thanks a lot.

12 N Venkataraman December 12, 2016 at 9:50 am

Anuji,

Very true. I have heard that they used to play MS’s rendition of Suprabhatam every day at Tirupathi. I do not know whether the practice continues even today. I believe MS’s rendition of Kasi Vishwantha Ashtakam used to be played in Varnasi too.

Thanks a lot for your appreciation.

13 N Venkataraman December 12, 2016 at 10:14 am

Mr. Raghavan Vasudevan,

You have rightly echoed my views. I have said earlier, talking about MS and her Tamil and Carnatic songs would be like carrying coal to New Castle. When I started doing this post I was in a predicament. I was wondering how to make this post relevant to SoY readers. SoY is primarily a blog for Hindi film songs of yore. MS had done only one Hindi Films. In total, she had done only 5 films. But this one film had catapulted her to national fame. Obviously most of the songs had to be from Meera and her Hindi Bhajans. Yet I posted two songs from her first two tamil films and another 6 from her tamil version of Meera.. Moreover I thought a fairly good introduction to her life was necessary and would prove relevant. But in the end, even after a lot of pruning, it turned out be a lengthy write-up. I should thank Akji for uploading the article in its entirety.

I agree with your views on the song “Kurai onrum ellai”. In fact, in course of doing this post I was totally immersed in MS’s songs. It was a delightful experience.

Thanks a lot for your generous appreciation

14 N Venkataraman December 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

Arunji,
Accolades or criticism from veterans like you is always a blessing. I thank you very much for your encouraging words.

15 Subodh Agrawal December 12, 2016 at 11:32 am

Dear Mr Venkataraman, thanks for filling an important gap in my musical education. Despite being an admirer of her singing I knew very little about her as a person. Your wonderful article makes up for this and also introduces me to many songs I hadn’t heard before. This is a post I will always treasure.

16 SSW December 12, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Mr. Venkatraman this is a nice write up on MS. Of course my exposure to her as I guess for many South Indians started with the Suprabatham played in the early morning in the temple close to my grandmother’s house. Summer holiday mornings and the temple music is a very vivid memory and I like some others I would have wished for a greater exposure to her carnatic oeuvre but I understand where you are coming from.
A minor quibble , in the references for the “The Madras Quartet”, the author is misspelt as India Menon once. It should be Indira Menon. I hope you had fun reading the portion on T Brinda in the same book.

17 RSR December 13, 2016 at 3:45 am

(response-2-RSR) As this site is primarily meant for recalling old film songs, especially from Hindi films, I will restrict myself to four gems from Hindi version of Meera ( 1947) sung by MS , under music direction by S.V.Venkataraman.
—————————————————————————————
1) Murali Mohana (kapi)
https://sites.google.com/site/meera1947film/home/video-clips-as-mp4/04-murali-mohana
————————————————————————————–
2) Baso Mere Nainan me ( Yaman) classic
https://sites.google.com/site/meera1947film/home/video-clips-as-mp4/06-baso-mere-nainan-me
————————————————————————————
3) Brundhavana Kunj bavana ( Pilu) (MS in ecstasy)
https://sites.google.com/site/meera1947film/home/video-clips-as-mp4/09-brundhavana-kunja
———————————————————————————–
4) Dharas Bina ( ragamalika -> Bagesree, Desh and Paraj)
https://sites.google.com/site/meera1947film/home/video-clips-as-mp4/16-dharas-bina
——————————————————————————–
Thank you Sirs, for giving me an opportunity to share with all of you in this prestigious forum of veterans, my humble homage to MS Ma.

18 RSR December 13, 2016 at 4:45 am

(response-3-RSR) a) Kindly note that MS met Sadasivam in 1936 itself and according to Gowri, he entrusted the baby Radha to MS at that time itself telling Radha that henceforth, MS will be your mother. Sadasivam’s wife was a very sick woman and there would have been legal problems ( bigamy) at that time. Even now there are. ( It is illegal , without the written consent of first wife). I dont think, Parvathi( Sadasivam’s first wife) would have given consent. .. Sarthric-wise, wife is Dharma-Pathni, Saha-dharmini and like the catholic practice, what God has united no man should undo. While Parvathi did not object to MS staying in the home unwed and looking after household chores as a wife, ( actually the two daughters doted on MS and vice-versa). both Sadasivam’s mother and wife would not have approved marriage then. That is why Sadasivam postponed formal marriage.
see the photos here and judge for yourself.
I have many more photos of MS in family album. Yet to post them .
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/0-ms-a-divine-life-in-pictures

19 RSR December 13, 2016 at 4:51 am

(response-4-RSR) Not a single writer , cares to examine whether a famous singer like MS ( YES SIR, She was already famous in 1938 (she was 22), when Sadasivam got her a chance to act in her first film Sevasadhanam’ ..MS was a rage even from her 13th year …1929 when she cut her first record at Bangalore where her mother had gone to give a record). And Director K.Subramanyam was no cheap character. All the writers mention Premchand novel Sevasadahanam where the heroine was forced to be a siren to earn a living. (WIKI) But Tamil film Sevasdhanam story is not related to that at all. In that picture, MS does get thrown out of the house by a jealous husband old enough to be her father but according to film story line, she is helped by two lady friends who take her under their care and carve out a glorious and prosperous singing career for the hapless girl. Do you really think, a siren sings Shyamasundara, Maaramanan, and such songs? How many people who parrot like repeat Premchand story, have seen that film and know the story line? Do you think, Sadasivam or MS would have accepted that role for a first film? Would they not have realized the terrible negative image that it would have created ? ( Do you know about the chiselled beauty Leela Naidu? Have you seen Anuradha? (1962). Her next film was Householder and she did a blunder in accepting the negative role in the film about Nanavathi murder and her career collapsed. (yeh raasth hai, pyar ki)
https://sites.google.com/site/decadesbacksongs/home/other-classics/leela

20 RSR December 13, 2016 at 6:10 am

(response-5-RSR) MS absconded from her maternal home into the security of Sadasivam’s home. not for film career but a prospect of being his wedded wife , though not immediately,but in the near future. Sadasivam was definitely aristocratic looking and very handsome. ..slim, tall, fair, straight, a lovely jutting chin, like that of Motilal Nehru ( even Jawahar did not inherit that chin).
https://www.facebook.com/tributetomssubbulakshmi/photos/a.220795884731574.65152.160104100800753/872925729518583/?type=3
She had absolute faith in Sadhasivam’s words , a Gandhian and a patriot. and deserted home ,definitely not for money. Sadasivam was just a middle class youngster that too a party activist, very well known by freedom fighters , highly talented and scholarly, a great singer! and writer and what not( gave up college education for freedom struggle like Kalki) ! Gowri has written that when Kalki and Sadasivam were sacked by SS Vasan for participating in Congress agitation, both had fame but were paupers! MS then told TS that ‘what is there? I can sing and you can write .May be we may not become very rich but we can survive!” . Such was their bond. It is another reason why MS’s mother objected. MS revolted against her mother’s conventional plan to ‘wed’ her to some rich patron without formal marriage…There is no shred of evidence anywhere that any rich man was prepared to marry MS in the sasthroktham way. She would have been destined to be like her mother, a loyal , respectable unofficial wife only , as was the custom. . Yes She was a rebel but her greatest yearning was to get out of that hell of being dubbed as unwed wife and to earn her place as a normal house keeper. I t was a rebellion in favour of our culture , not against it as some ‘feminist’ champions imagine… Could GNB have offered that prestige?
Sakunthalai ( Kalidasa’s Sakunthalam) was scripted and directed by Sadasivam himself (1940). Shrewd advertiser that Sadasivam was, he gave the hero chance to GNB as the two names so very popular in public cine world of 1940 would be another factor that would ensure its commercial success, being mainly a musical . Nothing less nothing more. And in a film that had more than 15 songs, he carefully saw to it that only 3 were sung by GNB ( one solo, and two ordinary duets). The best songs were by MS ( engum nirai, sukumara, aanandam en solvene , pannedum nalaay, etc) Luckily, saregama has placed all these songs in tube and I invite the north-indian rasikas to listen and judge. Language need not be a barrier. I dont know Hindi much but it has not prevented me from being a fan of the very best of Lata’s classics. It is the music that counts.
. Compared to Sadasivam, in character, public record, talent, rasikathva, looks, everything and an association from 1936 and being a trustworthy wellwisher and manager of her career,who negotiated with famed Director KSubramanyam for her first film Sevasadhanam in a respectable role ( no romance!) there was absolutely no reason for MS to have developed any soft corner for GNB. a flashy, rustic, ostentatious ,married man with daughters , more conventional than Sadasivam. When tongues wagged, Sadasivam took the advise of very much respected elders like ‘ Hindu Srinivasan’ and CR and married MS in a temple , risking and braving any possible legal problems. The two girls Radha and Vijaya doted on MS and she was more than a mother to them. Kindly see the family phots sample at
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/0-ms-a-divine-life-in-pictures ( I have many more, yet to be posted)
Let us put to rest all such gossip once for all. .
As a punch line, personally, I do not think GNB songs are all that great as have come to us through records. Something is lacking. North Indian friends may not comprehend but I am writing these lines for the GNB rasikas from Tamilnad. ( almost all the following records are too flat.. karulalayanidhiye, dhikku theriyaatha kaattil, brocheva, saketha, jayathi jayathi, vasudevayani( compare to Baso mere nainan me) and many more. Perhaps, people were carried away by his fast rendering. without bhavam. MS was exact opposite. Especially the Nadhanamakriya song in Sakunthalai. .
Thank you. My least intention is to hurt any one ,especially the author of this article, whom I know as having a rare sense of raga appreciation. through his many outstanding posts. With due apologies if I had conveyed that sense any where. Thank you once again.

21 N Venkataraman December 13, 2016 at 11:46 am

Dear Mr. Subodh Agarwal,

I am glad that you liked the post and the songs.

My intention was to reach out to as many people, north of the Deccan, and share the information that I have gathered on her and some of the songs she rendered that mesmerized me over the years. That precisely was my approach to the post. Thus I could pay my humble tributes to MS, whom I adored as much as anybody else.

Thank you very much for the appreciative words.

22 N Venkataraman December 13, 2016 at 11:49 am

Mr. SSW,
Thanks a lot for the encouraging response.
Yes, to many, in my generation and later, exposure to MS’s divine singing was through her renditions of Sanskrit slokas like Suprabatham. In my case it was not so. My parents used take me and my sister along with them, for the music concerts held at Thyagaraja Hall organized by Rasika Ranjan Sabha of Calcutta. I heard MS singing for the first time when I was 5/6 years old. I was always awe-struck listening to her.
I have mentioned in my post that her Carnatic songs can be posted and discussed in the comments section. I feel I am ill equipped to participate in any such discussion. At the most I may be able to butt in with some stray comments.

I am sure Akji must have noted the error that you have pointed out and make the correction. Thanks for pointing out the mistake.

The portion on T Brinda was indeed very interesting. It is unfortunate that she was reluctant to record her songs. I believe she was regular performer on AIR and she did have her music recorded by research institutions. It is said that Brinda taught MS, Varnams, Kritis, padams and javalis. I had an opportunity to listen to her when she performed in Calcutta with her sister Mukta and daughter Vegavahini.

23 Dinesh K Jain December 13, 2016 at 12:57 pm

I too am in the same boat as Subodh. RSR’s writings, or shall we say, outpourings, have added much more to the original article. I have found all this educative as well as sensational.

24 RSR December 14, 2016 at 10:26 am

May I share this article on Sevasadhanam film relevant to our discussion? . The songs are in thamizh but there is reliable information about the first film of MS and it was in 1938 and mentions Sadasivam as husband of MS.
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/002-sevasadhanam-1938-songs
Thank you

25 N Venkataraman December 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

Mr. R S Ramaswamy,
I went through your series of response posted by you. I would desist from responding point by point, since it would not serve any useful purpose.
Your main point of contention is that some portions of my article contained some disrespectful references to MS. I already mentioned in my earlier reply, that was never my intention and I had expressed my deepest regret, if my choice of words and expression had conveyed a different meaning contrary to my intent.

Even though we may have a difference of opinion on certain points, after going through the sequence of responses I conclude that we are in agreement as regards the main point of our discussion, or should I say contention. You have every right to express your opinion as much as I do. We may agree on certain points and we may also agree to disagree on certain other points and in the end, as AKji would have said, both of us may be right in our own way.

Both of us agree that that MS walked out of her mother’s house, whatever were the reasons, whether for a career in films or to become a wedded wife of Sadasivam. She dared to be different, she dared to defy. Thus we she was a rebel. We may have difference of opinion as to the reasons etc.etc. But we admire and respect her for the courage she exhibited in refusing to adhere to the accepted norms.

Taking a cue from one of your responses, she did have a high regard and admiration for this handsome looking Sadasivam and also his ideals. Ultimately this mutual respect and admiration, at some stage, must have blossomed into an affair of the heart before they decided to marry. It quite normal for a young lady, for a normal human being, that is my belief. There nothing wrong in accepting it. GNB was there in her life only for a brief period, during the making of Sakuntalai. It is also irrelevant whether GNB was great singer or not. Let us set aside GNB from this discussion. But Sadasivam, I do agree, had an enormous contribution and played a significant role in MS’s transformation. I did not write in detail about Sadasivam and I have explained the reasons in my earlier reply. You may feel I did not do enough justice to Sadasivam in my post, but you have dwelt in detail on this this aspect in your own way and added more information, value and sensation too, as Dineshji has remarked.

I would like to thank you for your generous appreciation in the end and also for posting a few more wonderful renditions of MS’s songs from Meera.

I would like to conclude by expressing my respects for you, your age and your views and opinions and accept your advice to put to rest all such gossip once for all.
Thanks a lot once again

26 N Venkataraman December 14, 2016 at 11:55 am

Dineshji,
Thanks for the response. True, RSR’s writings has added meat to this post.

27 D P Rangan December 14, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Venkataramanji

What a wonderful article to write about this illustrious lady. I have read many biographies of her in Tamil from libraries in Singapore and will write about it in further comments. As expected you have come out in flying colours in this tome. That is how I will view it even though it is only a post. I thoroughly read through RSR’s rebuttals and his strongly held views. I can declare your post and his comments are two parts of a whole. I will give a few interesting anecdotes on her later. I was out of circulation for ten days in Chennai and made it to Delhi just before the cyclone struck.

28 RSR December 14, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Respected Sir, (Venkataraman ji)
Thank you for your great and gracious response.
It was through you that I learned the difference between Kapi and Pilu. Kindly accept my heart-felt and honest admiration for your highly knowledgeable comments in SoY blog posts, which I have been following for many years(!) without registering myself because many of the posts were from very early period / from too recent period. ( before 1947 and after 1962). about which I do not know much in hindi film songs. Moreover, I am a sort of ‘extremist’ in that I just never had an ear for any lady singer in hindi films except Lata , though could appreciate many songs by Rafi, Mukesh, MannaDey, Chithalkar, .. As I was not informed enough to place comments, I did not register.
I have placed all my favourite best songs of Lata, in a site
(thanks to googlesites… I am able to have many sites,,,in preference to blog) .. in
http://sites.google.com/site/decadesbacksongs
It was done a few years back before I had learned to use googlesite properly. and unfortunately many of the links are broken.
I understand that you are having connections in Calcutta. If so, I want to trouble you for the meaning and lyrics (English transliteration or devanagari transliteration) of DL Roy’s ‘Pathitho Uddhaarini Gangae ‘ which MS has rendered in Sindhubairavi.
It is my good fortune to have opportunity to learn from people from you. As a few topics may not fit with SoY ( though, why not? Songs of Yore could be non-film as well) , it will be my privilege to have your mail-id so that I can get your valuable inputs now and then in my efforts .
Best Regards.
RSR

29 N Venkataraman December 15, 2016 at 8:40 am

Ranganji,
Thanks for your appreciative words.

Soon after AKji gave his green signal, you have been in constant touch with me over the mail, supplying me with materials (like Pasupathivugal etc.) and egging me with your encouraging words. I owe you a special thanks, and my thanks to Mr. RSR, Shalanji and Akji too.

I was worried due to your silence. I am glad that you could move out of Chennai before the storm. Hope everything is fine.

I would eagerly look forward to your further additions and anecdotes.

30 Shalan Lal December 15, 2016 at 9:32 am

To All

The article is well “buoyed” by the high scholarship and well researches in “MS Subbulaxmi”. To describe further in the naval terms this ship-post has a “steady as she goes” a manner of writing without emotional outburst and the majesty of the I.N.S Vikrant in language and that is precisely I expected from him and no palaver, wanderings and meanderings, going round and round etc.
The article well ends in the film landmark “Meera” a well and successful labour of the unity of great divide of South and North and stand shining ever since it was made.
We are now nearly away from seventy years of the Indian Independence day and must be looking at the Indian state and status what we have achieved and what we have lost and what is our future.
In this “Look back and Look ahead” survey we should dispassionately present our individual and national points of views.
My thoughts in the visual and audio Arts, ponder over the appearances of Ravindra Nath Tagore, Uday Shankar, Dadasaab Phalke, Rukmin Devi and MS Subbulaxmi as they are the five pinnacles whose work gave our filmy and musical arts that have been rivalling with the similar pinnacles in the European arts.
In this context we have to see both the “Daasi-Attam and Daassi-Gaayan”. We also have to thanks both Sharat Chandra and Minsi Premchand as the fulcrums on which the modernising took place. In this context one has to praise more Venkaraman for bringing this issue out and in his article. Thus his article is a land mark in the annals of the posts of Songs of Yore that has be created by AK, may be just for the “ Swaant Sukhaay” for his individual satisfaction at the beginning but over the last five years it has been making many sojourns in the areas that are not just filmy or limited to the songs and singers, allure and addictiveness of the filmy music in a Shakespearean term “if music be the food of love then give me in excess.”
Premchand’s “Seva Sadan” gave power to women to create their voice against their subdued and subservient culture in the Indian society. Almost in all short stories Sharat tried to put light on all kinds of women. I often wonder why the first two films of Devdas cantered around Devdas and his alcoholism while the story of Sharat points out at the end whatever happened to Devdas was less mattered but how Parvati lived her rest of her life burning and smouldering. This burning of women, the smouldering came out in his last novel called “Shesher Parichaya” not finished but his friend finished it.
So in this context it was right for Mr Venkatraman to point out the issues of “Devdassi and Subbulaxmi’s love for her true lover.
It is time that we Indians should not be embarrassed by the awful customs and traditions that had been immense cause of the down trod-den of the women when they should have been equal as human being and enjoy life and liberty as men do.
It is worrying matter if the Indian males presently after seventy years of Independence find it difficult to come to terms of the past ghosts.
In this context I see the value of my second reading of the Venkatraman and I would like to venerate him.

Shalan La

31 N Venkataraman December 15, 2016 at 9:45 am

Mr. R S Ramaswamy,

I have sent my mail-id to you.

I would take a few days to give you the correct transliteration and meaning of the song PatitOdhAriNi gangE.

I do not consider myself worthy of the effusive praise that you have expressed. Nevertheless I would accept them as your blessings. I do not claim to be an expert in Raagdhari Sangeet or film music. Like any other layman I just learn and share. When it comes to classical music, at times I mention the names of the Raags/Raagams, so that in case if I am wrong, or my understanding or the feel for a particular Raag/melody is wrong (very often it happens to be so), I can get myself corrected. In SoY, we have a few erudite members in this genre, like Subodh Agarwal, Ashwin Bhandarkar and Sadanand Warrier (SSW). You would certainly enjoy the company of our other learned members too, besides our host AKji. We would like to see your name more often by way of your valuable contribution.

With respects

NVR

32 D P Rangan December 15, 2016 at 10:03 am

I checked you tube site and was put out because of absence of live video of very many tamil Meera songs. There is a video version of “yengum nirandaye” sung in Sindhubhairavi while enroute Dwarka by MS as Meera but the audio has been muted due to copyright claim by someone. Very bothersome to find such a negative attitude prevailing about a movie of 1940s. I have the full film with me and can substitute all those songs with live video, but am afraid it may meet the same fate. I will try with one song and see how it fares.

33 RSR December 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Respected D.P.Rangan Sir,
Yes. It is a pity that such lovely video clips are either missing or have the audio muted. Luckily, full film has been uploaded and allowed ( I dont know when they would block them, however..Damocles sword) at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HtID2cORmY
(with English subtitles)
A work of devotion. More than one lakh views
————————————————————————-
https://sites.google.com/site/meera1945tamil/home/video-links
In the above URL, I have given all the video clips with audio.

I plan to add the story also and also the initial title music, janmashtami scene, roopa goswami bajan and radha ‘s song , dream sequence. And also story line briefly in thamizh. Pending work
Kindly check the existing video clips .

Shall I send the mp4 of all the video files? I am sort of blacklisted there ! You may fare better

34 RSR December 15, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Though I do not know Bengali, and studied in a rural school, I was fortunate to have access to tamil translations of a few novels by Bankim Chandra ( Anandha Mutt, Durgesa Nandhini, Visha Vruksham) when I was in 10th class. Read Gora ,The Wreck and other glorious short stories like Kabuliwalah, Home coming of Tagore in SSLC and while doing Engg, had the good luck to have a class mate whose father was Sri.A;K.Jayaraman who had translated great many novels of Sarath Chandra. Through Thamizh translations I have read 1) Charithra Heen ( the best in my opinion) Savithri ( 2) Pather Dhapi (juganthar years ) (3) Dhattha (4) Seshap prsana ( a disturbing novel about ‘morality’ )(5) Sri Kantha ( a masterpiece..semi auto biographical) (6) Dhena Phona (7) Nishkruthi . and a few more. All these were absolute masterpieces. Even in Devdas, Chandramukhi is as much a lovable portrait as the victim of arranged marriage , the heroine. Bankim ‘s heroines in AnandhaMutt ( Shanthi) and Devi Chowdurani were revolutionaries! As for Sarath’s great heroines and women characters, whom he so very sympathetically portrayed , all of them were bengali brahmin victims of kulinism .
a widespread malaise in the pre-independence Bengal. No one of his heroines was a siren. He was not writing about them. Rajalakshmi of SriKantha was a woman who chose to remain unwed. Sarath was portraying the misery of victims of young widows , so passionately championed by all reformers from Easwar Chandra Vidhyasagar and others ….. Premchand’s Sevasadhanam was different in theme.

35 RSR December 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Respected Venkataraman Sir, Thank you very much. Please take your own time about DKROY’s poem. No hurry. Thanks to Sri.Rangan, I have already taken the help of Subodhji for an MS bajan ‘Ram Milan ke’ .
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/32-raam-milan-ke-aaj
and have acknowledged his help
Will establish contact with the other renowned experts soon and take their guidance and clarifications with your help
Best Regards.

36 N Venkataraman December 16, 2016 at 8:08 am

Shalanji,

I thank you very much for your profuse praise. In effect, you have presented a wonderful review to my post. You have competently explained the importance of contextual relevance while presenting our point of view. Advice and appreciation from a fellow writer with deep knowledge of literature, arts and music is ever welcome, but veneration…. ?????!!!!!

Thanks once again.

PS: See the effect of your last line. Chakkar aa gaya.

37 N Venkataraman December 16, 2016 at 8:52 am

Ranganji, Mr. RSR,
#32 & #33
As you have mentioned, in most of the video uploads of the songs of Meera (the Tamil version in particular), the audio has been muted. That is why I decided to use the Audio uploads in most cases, hoping that they will remain intact. You must have noted that I have used two songs (video versions), Kaatriniley Varum Geetham and Characharam unnaiyavum thedume, uploaded by me. Earlier I had clipped about 13 songs from the film and uploaded in youtube. I have uploaded them as a test case and till now they have remained intact.

AKji, had informed me of a Ghazal sung by M.S.Subbulakshmi. Ishrat-e-qatra hain samandar mein fanaa ho jaana, Dard ka hadd se guzarnaa hain dawaa ho jaana, a beautiful composition by Mirza Ghalib. It seems M S learnt it from Begum Akhtar. Unfortunately due to a claim by a copyright holder, the audio track has been muted. It would have been interesting to know how MS had rendered this Ghazal.

38 RSR December 16, 2016 at 3:35 pm

#37-> “Earlier I had clipped about 13 songs from the film and uploaded in youtube. I have uploaded them as a test case and till now they have remained intact.” …
.May I know your channel in youtube? If they are intact, it will be useful. flash files load very fast. than mp4 files.
————————————————————————-
2) May I know the ragam for ‘characharam’ prelude and ‘Unaiye enathuyir ‘main song? The main song sounds very much like ‘Pyare Dharsan’ , a separate record given by MS in 1947 .
————————————————————————–

39 Shalan La December 17, 2016 at 11:24 am

N. Venkatraman @36

My dear Venkatrman
I wonder why you have felt giddy (Chakkar aa gaya) with my use of the word “revere” when it often used here in political or social issues discussed by the participants. It is in common use in a polite society.

It means “to regard with respect may be tinged with awe”. The word came into the English language when the scholars of Latin and Greek got busy with the first translation of the Bible. The scholar created a wonderful translation for the King James who wanted all people to understand the Bible and not just the priests. The original word is in Latin “reverērī”.

Here is good example of the use of the word by Sarah Palin the American politician:

To revere the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights and to invoke the 10th Amendment …….”.

I have not gone beyond the debating constrains. Your work is very good and deserves respect or reverence.

Shalan La

40 mumbaikar8 December 17, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Venkataramanji,
I am surprised!
At a stretch I spent more than one hour reading and listening to MS.
I am guilty of having some sort of mental block for South Indian languages, you helped me dent it.
Thanks once again.
Her singing is absolute divine.
I am glad that you have also presented Kunjamma the human.
I find some similarity between her and Begum Akhtar in singing as well as early life, correct me if I am wrong.
Isn’t the tune of Engum nirai Nadabrahmam, film Sakuntalai (1940) and Mere to Giridhar Gopal doosaro na koi, same as this Ramachandra devotional song by Paluskar?
Thomak chalat Ramachandra
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5bXKem6bGg

41 Giri December 17, 2016 at 1:34 pm

I grew up in an era (in Tamil nadu) when there was hardly any person whose life was not touched by the voice of MS in some form or other. From Suprabhatam/Vishnu Sahasranamsm to various devotionals in Tamil/Telugu/Kannada/Sanskrit/Hindi Meera songs (Katrinile was no. one) and her Carnatic music concerts. Nobody bothered about her background or her personal life.
I was particularly interested in her Carnatic concerts. Her devotion, hours of hard work/practice and ‘mano dharma’ took her music to great heights.
Mr.Venkatraman needs to be congratulated for presenting a portrait of MS specially for the SOY readers.
I think a few words on her work for charity could have been added. Almost all her concerts in the later part of her life were for charities. Her contributions to institutions like Sankara Netralaya are well known.

42 SSW December 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Mr. Venktaraman this Ragam Tanam Pallavi rendition (I see no reason why we should confine Carnatic music to the Open house forum an artiste should be seen in all their forms) in Karharapriya particularly in the alaap from 3:00 onwards always leaves me spellbound.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1rCs0Mkrp0

and this one in Dhanyasi when she warms up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTq3SIBP5uw

43 RSR December 17, 2016 at 4:00 pm
44 D P Rangan December 19, 2016 at 7:44 am

RSRji

I beg to disagree with your assessment of GNB gramaphone record songs. He is a top class artist and started a new style of singing and had no formal training with any musicians of repute in his young days. A self evolved musician and also a composer, his niche in the musical world is beyond reach. His Khamboji viruttam in Sakuntalai is one of the best in the ragam and appreciated as such by late Maharajapuram Santhanam.

45 RSR December 19, 2016 at 3:26 pm

As my final post in this thread, I crave permission to give links to our Bengali and Hindi friends to the records ( given in 1947-48) by MS for 8 very special non-film and non-tamil songs.
———————————————————-
1) Bande Matharam of Bankim Chandra -a duet with Dilip Kumar Roy
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/04-vandhe-maatharam
————————————————————————-
2) Dhano Dhanya Pushpa Varaan . composed by D.L.ROY ( father of Dilip Kumar Roy… a duet with DLRoy.
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/05-dhano-dhanya-pushpa-varaan
===============================================
3) Hari Thum Haro Jan ki pir ( Darbari Kanada) Meera bajan but not in film. Music scored by Piano Vaidhyanathan.
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/hari-thum-haro
————————————————————————
4) Pyare Dharsana ..Meera bajan but not in the film.
( ragam information may be wrong. Kindly help)
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/06-pyaare-dharsana
=============================================
5) Vaishana Janatho ( Kapi) by Narsi Mehtha
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/27-vaishnava-janatho
——————————————————————————-
6) Ragupathy Ragava Rajaram
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/28-ragupathi-ragava-rajaram
==============================================
7) Maiyn nir guniya -bajan (possibly composed by KamaldasGuptha )
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/31-mai-n-nirguniya-guna-nahi
———————————————————————————-
8) Ram milan ke . a Ram bajan (help from Subodh-ji)
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/32-raam-milan-ke-aaj
==============================================
These pages are not merely for the songs. Lyrics have been given and much additional information , transliteration and translation.
Do visit the pages, and listen. and give more information. if available.
Thank you.

46 gaddeswarup December 20, 2016 at 7:57 am

Since this is probably about Hindi film songs, this comment may be out of place. I remember a Shanta Apte-M.S.Subbulakshmi film Savithri1941 where Shantaram Apte sang in Tamil and seems to have matched M.S.S.

47 N Venkataraman December 20, 2016 at 11:10 am

Mr. R S Ramaswamy
#28, #31

Here is the transliteration and translation of the song Patita Uddharini Gange. This may not be an exact word to word or line by line translation, but I have tried to bring out the essence of the song to the best of my ability. Hope this would serve your purpose.

Patita Uddharini gange (O go) maa
Shyama bitapi ghana tata vidyavini dhusara taranga bhange (maa)
Kotha naga nagari teertha hoila taba chumbi charana juga maayi
Kotha nara naari dhanya hoyila maa taba shalile avagaahi
Bahicha janani e Bhaarata varse kotha shota juga juga baahi
Kari sus-shyaamala katha maru praanthara shitala punya tarange
Naarada kirtana pulakita maadhava vigalita karunaa khariyaa
Brahma Kamandalu ucchali dhurjati jatila jathaapara jariyaa
Ambara hoyite samashata dhaaraa jyoti prapaata timire,
Naami dharaaya himaachala mule mishile saagara sange
Parihari bhava sukha duhkka jakhana maa shaayita antima shayane
Barisha shrabane tavajala kaloraba barisha shupti mama nayone
Barisha shaanti mama sankita praane barisha amrita mama ange
maa bhaagirati jaanhavi suradhuni kalakallolini Gange

Redeemer of the fallen (sinner), o mother Ganges/Ganga
Your awesome rolling waves (ripples) wash the banks filled with dense dark trees (forests)
Countless towns and cities became holy by touching (kissing) your holy feet for ages
Countless men and women were blessed by bathing in your holy water
O mother, you have been flowing for very many ages/ eons through this land, Bharatavarsa
With your cool, holy waves/undulations, you have rejuvenated many arid / infertile lands
Enchanted by Narada’s kirtan, Madhava bestowed his mercy
Overflowing from the Brahma’s Kamandalu (religious/ritual pot), you flow down from Siva’s (Dhurjati) tresses
Rolling (further) down from the lofty sky through the plane lands, (like) torrent of light in the midst of darkness
(you) descend down from snow-laden origin and got united with the ocean
O mother, while at my final rest (awaiting death), forgoing earthly pleasure and pains
Shower my ears with sound of your gushing waters; give eternal sleep to my eyes
Shower/grant peace to my disturbed soul / ebbing life-force, shower my body with “Amrita”/Ambrosia (and thus bless me with immortality)
O mother, Bhagirati (caused by Bhagiratha), Janhavi (daughter of sage Jahnu), Suradhuni (divine river), the eternal flowing Gange.
Redeemer of the fallen (sinner), o mother Ganges/Ganga

I am posting the song rendered by Sabitabrata Dutta, so that you can listen to his original Bengali diction.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiWQn9pPREY

I am also posting MS’s rendition, too, here. For a Tamilian, I feel, her diction is good. Both Dilip Kumar Roy (1897-1980) and MS must have put lot of effort. Here is the song penned by Dwijendra Lal Roy (1863-1913). Please listen to second song.
http://blog.msstribute.org/ms-repertoire-compositions-dwijendralal-roy-bengali/

48 N Venkataraman December 20, 2016 at 11:37 am

Mr. R S Ramaswamy,
#38
Here is link to the songs of Meera (Tamil-1945) that I have uploaded. I am sure you must be having all the songs, posted here, with you.
https://www.youtube.com/user/Venkatssa18/videos?view=0&sort=dd&shelf_id=0

I think Characharam prelude/ Viruttam, is based on Raagam Hamsanandi. The Hindustani equivalent Raag should be Sohini. Sohini, Marwa, Pooriya, Hindol (all Hindustani Raag) are all closely akin to each other.

Yes, you are right. The tune of Pyare Dharshan and Unaiye enathuyir is the same. But Pyare Dharshan was not in the film.

49 N Venkataraman December 20, 2016 at 11:45 am

Shalanji,
#39
Thank you once again for the clarification and appreciation.

50 RSR December 20, 2016 at 11:51 am

Respected Venkataraman Sir,
Thank you very much for the great help in Pathithoddharini Gangae song. I will be adding it to my homage2ms site in a day or two with even thamizh translation, to the best of my ability. How lofty! How cleansing! “Lead me from darkness to Light” .”
Double -Triple thanks for the clarification about the ragam of Pyare Dharsana. . The ragam of the prelude is said to be different to that of the main body of tamil song ‘unaiye enathuyir’ which sounds like Pyare Dharsana. Is Pyare dharsana of Hamsanadhi ? I will write to you.

51 N Venkataraman December 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Mr. R S Ramaswamy,
Please note the viruttam/prelude (Characharam) is based on Raagam Hamsanandi. Not the main song. I would listen to the main song Unaiye enathuyir and Pyare Dharshan and will try to give a reply. In the meantime the experts may give an authentic answer.

52 N Venkataraman December 20, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Mumbaikarji,
#40
Thank you very much for spending some of your valuable time in reading about and listening to MS. I am glad that my post served the purpose for which it was intended.

True, there are some similarities in the early lives of MS and Begum Akhtar.

Once again you have proved that you have sharp ears. Indeed, I too now feel that, the tune of the song Engum nirai Nadabrahmam was based on Thumak chalat Ramachandra. A wonderful find and another feather in your cap.

Thanks a lot.

53 RSR December 20, 2016 at 2:57 pm

#40…Respected Sri.R.V. ( pardon the abbreviation and I am simply RSR).. I have been trying to find out the ragam of ‘engum nirai naadhabrammam’ for a very long time in forums. Ofcourse, it sounds a bit like Chenchurutti (Jinjothi) but I am not sure. ‘More tho Giridhar’ also sounds like Jinjothi. … MS was very fond of this ragam and it may be a close variant. .Recently I searched for kruthis in this ragam by Saint Thyagaraja and found to my surprise, there was only one among the 700+ kruthis by him. Kindly help.

54 Raghavan Vasudevan December 21, 2016 at 5:56 am

Trivia on MS film Meera
1. MS stopped acting after Meera though it was a hit film.
2 To have better background score and quality the Music Director ,SV Venkatraman used 100 piece orchestra – is it first time in Indian cinema – I am unsure
3 MGR the matinee idol acted in Meera in a disguise – playing as an
assistant to the character enacted by TS Balaiah – in a brief role
4 The hindi version of meera was sho tpartly in Rajasthan while the Tamil mostly at home.

55 N Venkataraman December 21, 2016 at 7:15 am

Mr.Giri,
Thank you for mentioning MS’s charity work and contribution for just causes. It will take a few pages to list them. Thanks also for your nice appreciation.

56 RSR December 21, 2016 at 8:08 am

Sri.Ragavan Vasudevan, Though it has not been confirmed, I would venture to suggest that MGR appeared as Raja Mansingh in disguise along with Emperor Akbar in the scene ( Charaacharam..in Thamzh Meera and ‘Maiyn Hari Charan ki dasi”) The resemblance is unmistakable. As as aside, what is the ragam of that loveliest song ‘Maiyn Hari Charan ki dasi’?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oelL9ut0EUo

57 N Venkataraman December 21, 2016 at 8:32 am

Mr.SSW,
Listened to the fascinating RTP in Karaharapriya and her rendition in Dhanyasi. Thanks for posting them. I did not suggest that Carnatic music should be posted in “Open House” forum. I had stated that if any of the readers feel like, we can bring in this genre for discussion in the comments section.

58 N Venkataraman December 21, 2016 at 8:56 am

Gaddeswarupji,
Welcome back.
Yes MS acted in the role of Sage Narada in the film Savitri. Shanta Apte acted in the title role. I have mentioned this in my post. Shanta Apte sang 8 solos and 2 duets, and MS rendered 6 solos. I believe the songs were composed by Papanasam Sivam.

59 D P Rangan December 22, 2016 at 4:06 am

Very few of the songs of Savitri are available. If HMV still has them they should reissue them for the benefit of public.

MS and Sadavisam were not worldly wise and gave away everything for others and after sale of their property were living from hand to mouth in a small house in Nungambakkam. MGR was distraught at their living conditions and offered any house and as expected the noble couple declined it. Mooppanar transferred his house in Kotturpuram to them where they spent their last days. I have seen her there many times from my uncle’s house which was next door. My uncle’s grandson was very chummy with her and she was really divine. She gave a concert in 1957 in Delhi to raise funds for the Venkatewswara temple which now stands in Sector 3 of R K Puram. Her image is fresh even today before me and I remember she began the concert with “Anudinam Venkatesa”.

60 RSR December 22, 2016 at 5:21 am

DPR -> (1) After Sadhasivam had to dispose of the palatial mansion ‘Kalki Gardens’ to settle the Kalki magazine issue, it is true that they had to adjust themselves to a new spartan lifestyle. But, that was nothing new to the noble couple, steeped in Gandhian ideals of simple life. During the heyday, there never was a day in Kalki Garden where a lunch or meals session had less than atleast 30 guests , that too separate session for gents and ladies and children. And as Purandhara Dhasa mentions in his ‘Bagyatha Lakshmi’ song, every meal was a feast!
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/54-bagyatha-lakshmi
.. But the MS-TS couple had the simplest food always.
———————————————————————————-
(2) It was Rajeev Gandhi who arranged through MGR to offer a suitable accommodation but TS declined gently
———————————————————————————-
(3) Sri.Athamanadhan was the manager for MS-TS and TS used to refer to him as his ‘Aathmaa’! . Athmanathan had a house in Kotturpuram and had named it ‘Subam-Sivam’ to honour Subbulakshmi ( Subam – indeed SUBA LAKSHMI for many north indians and Sivam for Sadasivam). It was in this residence that the couple spent the final decade of their noble sojourn in this world , on their way to the Lotus feet of the Lord . There was no ‘ penury’ but just austere living ( like that of Saint Thyagaraja who spurned the offer to be the court musician of Serfoji but chose to lead a life of ‘unchavirthi’ so that he can spend his entire life at Thiruvayaaru. .singing the praise of the Lord)
————————————————————————————-
(4) By almost a miracle, Prasad , Executive officer of Thirumala Devasthanam had a flash of inspiration to have all the recently unearthed Annayya Keerthans sung by hugely popular MS ( due to her Venkatesa Suprabatham) and got the idea approved enthusiastically by Kanchi Mahaperiyavaal who personally chose the songs to be rendered. The Royalty was almost thrust on the couple but it relieved them from mundane monetary worries thereafter. Read Prasad’s account here ( I have abbreviated the article )
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/ms-annamacharya-keerthans-miracle
————————————————————————————-
Dear , dear friends in the forum, please do not skip this article. It is sheer poetry. Each time I read this, I am unable not to have wet eyes!.

61 RSR December 23, 2016 at 7:33 am

Savithri ( story of Sathyavan-Savithri) was produced and released by Sri.Sadasivam, in 1941 ( after Sakunthalam in 1940) to raise funds for establishing the KALKI magazine. Sadasivam and Kalki had been asked to leave Ananda Vikatan of S.S.Vasan , for their deep involvement in the Freedom struggle and Kalki’s internment . Shanta Apte was the heroine. MS acted as sage Naradhar in the film and gave some six divine songs. The best among them was Sadasiva Brammendram’s ‘Bruhi Mukundeti’ . Sadasiva Brammendral was a mystic poet and contemporary of the Carnatic music Trinity of Thyagaraja, Shyama Sastri, Dhikshithar and also of Maharaja Swathi thirunal! How glorious! So many brilliant and devout composers being contemporaries! Sadasiva ‘s songs were not many and all of them were in Sanskrit and tuned in near folk-ragams! Peremit me to share the gem. with you all.
It is said that when the song was recorded in Calcutta, all the leading singers like Saigal, Kanan Bala, Pahari Sanyal happened to be present during the recording and showered praise on the divine singing of MS.
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/71–pruhi-mukunteti

62 RSR December 23, 2016 at 11:53 am

Due to the wonderful help from Sri. Venkataraman ji, I have the fulfillment of having created last night, (22-12-2016) a suitably reverential page for MS rendition of D.L.Roy’s ‘Pathithoddharini Gangae’ poem.
https://sites.google.com/site/homage2mssubbulakshmi/home/pathithoddhaarini-gangae
My eternal thanks

63 gaddeswarup December 24, 2016 at 2:55 am

Again one of my off comments. The above comment 62 reminded of this book I have been browsing through off and on https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/jul/27/india-sacred-geography-eck-review

64 RSR December 24, 2016 at 7:17 am

#63 ->’gaddeswarup ‘ji ->Just now read through the article. Perfectly true. “DISCOVERY OF INDIA” by Jawahar says it all. Thank you for sharing the article

65 mumbaikar8 December 25, 2016 at 2:54 am

Venkataramanji @ 52,
Thanks you very much for the nice words, it means a lot.
When I said I spent one hour, I did not mean a busy schedule or precious time. I was talking about my tolerance level. I think my poor communication skill made you come to the conclusion.

66 Gaby January 7, 2017 at 11:32 pm

Songs of Yore never fails to astonish and provide pleasant moments. This post on MS Amma was a very good one.

Most urban South Indian children grow up listening to her voice from the break of dawn to the time they go to sleep. The Venkatesha Suprabhatam every morning, the Vishnu Sahasranama every Saturday, Lakshmi songs every Friday and other songs every single day.

Surprisingly, I was never really interested in her personal life. There were some interesting moments but otherwise it seemed so boring. A life of dedication, devotion p, charity and immersion in music, but hardly anything exciting.

Perhaps a patriarchal society did its usual trick and deified someone who could potentially be a source of antagonistic viewpoints. Perhaps as she grew older , she decided that it was too tiring to blaze a path as a woman. But she had already done so much for the cause of music.

Thankfully, there are her songs to listen to and cherish. Till society becomes more accepting of human flaws and patriarchy lets women be what they wish, that will be what I (and perhaps sensible fans of Amma) will see as all what needs to be remembered of her is her singing.

As a woman who cherishes freedom as well, perhaps Bangalore Nagarathnamma and KB Sundarambal are more exciting idols, to me, personally. But for sheer maadhurya and bhakthi, it will always be Amma.

A ghazal of Ghalib sung by Amma (with lots left to be desired for in the pronunciation) was,
Ishrat -e-qatra hai dariyā meñ fanā ho jaanā
dard kā had se guzarnā hai davā ho jaanā
The droplet burns from within, to be consumed by the ocean
Thus to exceed the boundaries of pain, becomes the remedy in itself.

Her singing was her expression and even an ordinary woman like me could understand that the river of her music had merged with the ocean of the universal harmony.

67 AK January 8, 2017 at 7:05 am

Gaby,
I couldn’t help admiring your sophisticated language in describing MSS’s ‘deification’. Before I read this article, I too knew of her primarily as a divine incarnate. Thanks for underscoring that the aspects that got suppressed and which some found embarrassing, could have given her another worthy image of a ‘woman’ who blazed a rebellious path against prejudices.

68 N Venkataraman January 17, 2017 at 4:57 am

Gaby @ 66
Thank you for the appreciation. Sorry I could not respond in time. I would like to echo what Akji has said in response to your comment.

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