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M J Shriram


August 11 2011…don’t you think this date has a nice ring to it?

It has a wealth of meaning for a lot of people who gathered in Residency that day

particularly the singing duo M.J.Shriram and Srilekha.

Hari and I were invited to witness this exclusive felicitating event, special in more ways than one. You will know why when you come to the bottom line!

We were greeted with a miniature flower bouquet, handed to me by my friend Gopi, who smiled and said “Long time no see and so happy you found time from your subtitling spree to be with us today!”

MJ sings in Residency Hotel every Thursday and this sure beats all records hollow ‘cos Aug 11th was his HUNDREDTH week without missing a single Thursday, come rain, shine, tsunami or earthquake!

He has even missed opportunities to globetrot for this endeavor of his – sharing his love for the evergreen songs of this versatile combo –Ilayaraja and SPB.

MJ walked down memory lane with me, his 1st stage performance was when he was hardly 9 years young! He was pushed on to the stage, he reminisces by his mother and a family friend Vasantha mami. Venue was a T.K .Kala’s ( pOi vaa nadhi alaiyay is what comes to my mind immediately) show in a small temple in the then Thiruvallikeni! He sang the classic senthaazham poovil from muLLum malarum…rest is his-story! He has given more than 5000 stage shows all over the world…and his musical journey is still followed by 3 dots

Landmark is truly a landmark in their lives, ‘cos that’s where MJ and Srilekha met in Spencer’s plaza at its inaugural eve.

Actor- director Parthiban is a special person in his life, as a friend plus one who gave him his first movie song break in pachchai kudhirai. Hearing MJ sing in a show, Parthiban promised to call him but MJ didn’t take his words too seriously, as these words are common courtesy than straight from the heart. But in this case, he was in for a pleasant surprise. Within 2 months his phone did ring and the caller was Parthiban!

Next he sang in M3V, a lovely number kondaadum manamay.

This film went worldwide, to win accolades and applause.

MJ says his experience in this was unique. Music director Aslam Mustafa and director Krishnan Seshadri Gomatam did not want him to sound like SPB, not in one syllable, note or even his breath! It took him 7 ½ hours to make all traces of his idol Balu-ji disappear from his blood, vein, nerve and sinew!

His voice reverberates in every household today with his title song Thaandava konae from the legend KB sir’s Shanthi nilayam.

Cut to our present story, music director Ramesh Vinayagam (I love his sandhana poongaatrae and enna idhu) came up to the dais and said words to the effect, Shriram does not sing like SPB at all, he hero worships him to such an extent that he cannot but sound like him.

MJ’s personal favorite song (tough choice) is vandhaaL mahaLakshmiyae from uyarndha uLLam, maybe that’s why he got his own Mahalakshmi in Lekha! With pride in his eyes he said “Lekha during this function today which meant the world to me was not a celeb singer but my wife!”

It was happiness undiluted to see MSV the legend, Balu-ji (my idol too), Gangai Amaran share their memories and stage space AND bless MJ. Many of us got teary eyed when Balu-ji spoke about his long standing friendship with maestro and his brothers, hardship they encountered which has shaped him to what he is today, a humble humane being who does not murder Thamizh which is NOT his mother tongue!

It was so endearing to hear everyone echo this common thought, that MJ besides being a talented singer, is a sincere honest good human being, I am sure he felt his mother smile from above, rewards of that distant day when she urged him to sing on stage!

Many celebs came to congratulate MJ and he honored them with a memento, a neatly written wooden plaque expressing his gratitude to those who had made a difference to his life, right from the person who gave him his first break on stage, supported him technically, his childhood best friend, his god-brothers, musicians who were llayaraja’s talented team members…he had remembered every single person and not necessarily a well known face or voice.

A valuable lesson already dinned into my head by my amma, was reiterated that day!

Never forget the one who gives you the push, shove, even the slightest nudge to

name, fame, success or even smiles

MJ, you are my muse! I came home and told Hari, when I subtitle my 100th film I want to hold such an event and thank every soul instrumental to my curves in my career graph.

MJ, you are rocking, man! I could have hugged you when you said “I feel like I have got a grammy or national award, cos what more can a singer aspire for than be blessed by MSV- and SPB sir in front of such an august audience!” …except you were on the other side of the phone!

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