– Saravanan writes:
A forgotten SPB/SJ treat dished up by MSV: ‘engE unnai kaNdaal kooda’ from chithira sevvanam. Lyrics by Kannadasan.
I don’t know much about chithira sevvanam (1979/ Dhanashekari Enterprises), except that the film starred Srikanth, Srividya & Jaiganesh.
VJ’s graceful ‘pon vaNNa veeNai, poonthendRal raagam’ was perhaps the more popular song from the album; I remember listening to it fairly often on the radio. The other songs in the film were ‘chittaaLu chittaaLu’ (MV/LRE) and ‘indha paadalai paadi paar’ (SJ). ‘engE unnai kaNdaal kooda’ was the fourth song; it found a brief season of airtime and then disappeared forever from public memory. It was the beginning of the decade when a SPB/SJ duet became a customary inclusion in most tfm albums; amidst this abundance, this enchanting MSV creation slipped unnoticed into oblivion.
In the summer of 2003, a big gang of tfmpage dfers decided to resurrect a great thread titled ‘yEthO ninaivugaL- Memories of Another Day’. Surya, Other_Side, Vijay, Naaz, Prabhu, Mythila, raj, Raj, Music4Ever and CM, among others indulged in wonderful nostalgia, recalling so many forgotten songs from the 70s and 80s. Each day, even each hour brought gratifying recollections from all of them. In the course of these reminiscences, came a post from Raj, enquiring about this song ‘engE unnai kaNdaal kooda’, and I lost myself in rapturous reverie, recollecting the song that I had cherished for years, but had quite callously forgotten for a while.
* * * *
In SPB’s very first year in tfm, in the midst of his memorable duets with PS like ‘aayiram nilavE vaa’, ‘malligai poo vaangi vandhEn’ and ‘iyaRkaiyenum iLaya kanni’, MSV also made him pair with SJ for that lilting moonlight tryst ‘pourNami nilavil pani vizhum iravil’.
In the following exhilarating years, SPB and SJ got to sing some unforgettable duets together. KVM summoned them to sing the appealing ‘kaNNaal nadathum oru kathai uNdu sollattuma’ and the whispery ‘iravugaLai paarthuNdu, uRavugaLai paarthathillai’. Shankar-Ganesh gave them the dainty ‘ondRE ondRu thEnooRum vaNNam’ . GKV, who had reaped the mesmerizing magic of this combination in Kannada, celebrated their effervescence with that unforgettable ‘thEn sindhudhE vaanam’. V.Kumar too could not resist harnessing their electric élan – the rollicking qawaali ‘yEmma kaNNu vaama poNNu’ and the poignant ‘ennodu kaNNan yEn pEsavillai’ were such diverse delights! Shyam brought them together for his dreamy ‘nenjathil pOraadum eNNangaL’. And even as MSV came up with one SPB-PS stunner after another in that period, he did reserve some delectable duets for SPB-SJ like ‘kELvi kEtkkum nEramalla idhu’, ‘poonkodiyE poonkodiyE’ and ‘angE varuvathu yaarO’. In his very first year, IR fell for the bewitchment of this duo in classics like ‘naan pEsa vandhEn’ and ‘oru naaL unnOdu oru naaL’. And with SPB and SJ soon evolving as his favorite singers, the IR era saw them assuming prolific prominence as the most sought after singing pair in tfm of that time.
SPB often has generous words of appreciation for SJ and SJ too has frequently showered encomiums upon SPB. In 1997 in SPB’s ‘enadhu isai payaNam’ show, when SJ was called upon to speak, she was so overcome by emotion that she merely said ‘naan pEsa vandhEn, sollathaan Or vaarthai illai!’ In February 1999 in a show with SJ in Kamaraj Arangam, SPB recalled with gratitude how when he took part in a singing competition even before he entered tfm, SJ, who was one of the judges, gave him the highest scores. And when the verdict of the other judges didn’t match hers, she was forthright in stating her dissent. Standing beside him now so many years later, SJ smiled indulgently at his recollection; and the duo went on to render the evergreen ‘sippi irukkuthu muthum irukkuthu’.
In the course of interesting chat with bb & friends, SPB has once again happily reiterated what he has said many times before, his rueful acknowledgment of SJ gleefully nudging past him in the last lap!
Take this SOTD as a case in point of their sizzling singing chemistry- how much comradeship there is in their rendition as they bring to scintillating life the song crafted with care by the mellisai mannar! Hark at both of them bring enticing embellishments line after line, note after note. Both the charaNams are remarkable in their structure and composition. The first one is wholly for SJ and she paints a tantalizing picture of the most exquisite hue and of a pattern the beautiful intricacy of which delights and amazes. The second one is filled with precious moments of intimate sensual joy conjured up by both the singers. Aaah..the minuscule aalaap that SJ so cunningly incorporates just after that ‘engE’ in the end…SPB Sir, I can see you throw up your hands in mock despair!!