As I weaved my way to the door in Woodlands, Chennai, I saw this music legend I’ve always been in awe of!
You guessed right…KaalangaLil avar kural vasantham!
The affable easygoing friendly gracious genial melody singer of all times, PBS
If post 80 I am half as chirpy and with this zest for life as PBS ji, I’d consider myself God’s favorite child!
I opened my dialog with this singing legend, with an inane question,
‘what’s your mother tongue?’ and he promptly replied, “music”
Wowwww again I thought to myself.
He believes no one can own any language and music binds / bonds people irrespective of region or religion.
Not a trained musician his rise to fame, he attributes to God. His father, who was totally against him entering the cine field, took him to an astrologer. His horoscope claimed he would never be connected to the entertainment industry.
So the young and perseverant PBS (ji) asked him if his predictions have ever gone wrong? When the astrologer accepted reluctantly but honestly that sometimes due to wrong time given, he has been misled, PBS’s heart started beating to a new rhythm! He vowed to prove this crystal-ball man wrong.
And how!?! Besides being a singer whose voice is so mellifluent and not murdering any of the languages he sang in, he has written 2½ LAKH poems and tuned them in 8 languages!
His special signature besides his enchanting voice is his vibrant shrichoornam on his forehead and the turban poised regally on his head. The latter he says his fans gave him ‘filled’ with their affection!
July 20th 1969 inspired PBS ji to pen a song ‘man to moon, moon to God’ when Neil Armstrong created history! Besides writing the lyrics, he tuned it, sang (with S.Janaki) and sent it to Armstrong and President Nixon. What’s even more commendable is that both of them acknowledged, appreciated his creativity and replied!
And during his USA tour he sang this song in Philadelphia to a roaring applause. He smiled reminiscently and said, “S.Janaki hummed this song better than the best soprano singers ever“.
His eyes glowed when he said, “SPB is an all rounder, so multifaceted” and it is so touching to hear him say it with absolutely no trace of envy. The legendary duo MSV-TKR, he said ‘catapulted Indian music to another dimension’.
KVM he acclaimed was ‘master of melodies’…and remembering G Ramanathan this octogenarian’s voice broke into “kaniyO paagO karkandO?”
which he had sung with our ‘vidwat queen’ MLV(ma) some 45 years ago!
To this enlivening singer’s credit is a raga invented by him, named ‘navaneetha sumasudha’ which translates to butter-flower-nectar!
When I asked him about his family he said his pair in real life is PBS Janaki and his singing pair in reel life is S Janaki.
Present day music he said is “kaalaththin pOkku” (Passage of time?) regrettable that music has become mere boisterous sound…’kaattu kaththal paattaagi…
vittadhu!’ and emphasized the last word, with a sad smile.
He broke out of his reverie and shared his delight in so many fans meeting him and talking about his music. His joy is unlimited when he hears them sing back to him the songs that were ‘the jewel in his crown’ decades ago.
He says this is true deiva darisanam, God’s Grace, my praaptham
His face sparkled like a child given a box of candies, as he posed a question to me, ‘what’s the apt English word for praaptham’?
As the windmills of my mind tried to spin a reply, he said “I’ve myself coined a new word…and it is ‘in-store’, what’s in store for us, which comes duly to us”
Not only does he believe our films should be subtitled and sent to every nook and corner of the world
…but also asked me to watch a film after his own heart ‘The music man’ a musical made in 1962 and ‘I want to live!’ a 1958 film noir (crime fiction)
Here we are very often mumbling and grumbling about what life has ‘in store’ for us when this amicable courteous delightful harmonious pleasant swell singer of a golden era shows us how to live and love life to the fullest!
His resolute words “I want to revive melody, that’s lost in our music” ring in my ears…Wowwwwwwww! This man is a testimonial to single-minded
If each of the new generation music directors (and directors) in their ode to PBS ji tuned just one melody per film…deleting kalakkam, kuzhappam, nadukkam and vowed to nurture mayakkam in the magical sense we’ll cease to be ‘sumaithangi’s of mediocrity. We may have a new age of soulful soothing symphonies to proudly leave as legacy for posterity after all!
A penny for my thought?
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