G.K.Venkatesh: A Retrospective

by Saravanan

Gurjada Krishnadas Venkatesh passed away in November 1993. It is now exactly 10 years since GKV’s mortal remains were consigned to flames. But he lives on in his immortal melodies and they will stand timeless testimony to his unquestioned talent.

GKV was born in Hyderabad on 21st September 1927. His musical talents were discovered at a very young age—even as a child it is said he was appreciated by the Raja of Bobbili. His elder brother GKS Pathi taught him the Veenai. GKV entered tfm as a bubbly teenager. He played the Veenai for great MDs like SV Venkataraman, SM Subbiah Naidu and CR Subburaman.

GKV became a close friend of MSV when they were both part of Subbiah Naidu’s troupe in the late 40s. Later they stayed in the same room in Jupiter Lodge in Madras . It was then that MSV bagged the chance to compose some songs for Genova. And when NSK offered an opportunity to MSV and TKR to compose music for Panam-1952, GKV naturally became an integral part of their troupe. MSV gave GKV a chance to sing in their very first film ‘Panam’.

Madras Pictures’ Panam is said to be Sivaji Ganesan’s second film to be released. Though it was a commercial disaster, MSV-TKR had acquitted themselves quite well for a debut—‘Theena moona kaana’- NSK, Engae Theduvaen- NSK, Manamudayaarae manithargal-CSJ, Kudumbathin vilakku-MLV, Panam irundhaale-TV Rathinam are all memorable songs.

‘Ezhayin kovilai naadinaen’ is among the earliest songs in tfm in the waltz style—listen on to MLV and GKV having a blast!


Singing was nothing new to GKV--after all, he began his career as a singer in Bangalore AIR even before entering films, and is also said to have lent his voice to some chorus songs in Meera when he was in SVV’s troupe. GKV went on to sing a few songs in later years, and always did justice to them. His voice had the flexibility to adapt to the varied moods that the situation demanded—the boisterous revelry in ‘Kannodu vin pesum jaadai’ (Kavalai Illatha Manithan- along with TS Bagavathi, with ALR and Jamunarani adding luster to the chorus), the philosophy tinged with pathos in ‘Nilai maarinaal gunam maaruvaan’ (Paava Manippu), the palpable dejection in ‘Kanavae kaathal vaazhvae’ (Senthamarai), the impish romance of ‘yaen mama kovama’ (Thendral Veesum, with LRE), the irreverent shrug at life in ‘Sondhamumillai oru bandhamum illai’ (Hello Mr.Zamindar), the rustic uncouthness in the ‘maanathilae meenirukka’ prelude to SJ’s ‘Udhayam varugindrathae’ (Kavikkuyil)- these are some unforgettable instances where GKV startles you with the breathtaking range of his voice.

GKV thus become a permanent fixture in the troupe of MSV-TKR from their very first film. He was given due credit as their assistant in the titles in their films in those early years. His undeniable talents could not be hidden under wraps for long. Even as early as 1952, he composed music independently for a Malayalam film, which was also dubbed in Tamil as Nadigai.

And though tfm wasn’t yet ready to entrust him with independent music composition, Kannada filmmakers were quick to discover the spark in him, and eagerly harnessed his talents. The titles of the 1955 film Sodari starring Rajkumar (his second film) and Pandaribai had the credit for Music being shared by HR Padmanabha Shastry & GKV. The following year saw GKV enjoying a stupendous success with the music of Viswakala Chitra’s Ohileshwara (stg. Rajkumar & Sriranjini). GKV also gave PBS a marvelous break in kfm. (“GKV was the person who launched me as a successful singer in Kannada”, acknowledges a grateful PBS).

GKV soon became a prolific MD in Kannada, and along with TG Lingappa and Vijayabhaskar, set new standards of film music there. His works in Haribhaktha-1956, Anna Thangi-1958, Jagajyothi Basaveshwara, Dharma Vijaya, Mahishasura Mardini-all 1959, Ranadhira Kanteerava, Dasavathara, Sree Shaila Mahatme-all 1960, Kanntheredu Nodu, Kaivaara Mahaatme-both 1961, Bhoodaana, Karuneye Kudumbada Kannu - both 1962, Kanya Ratna, Gowri, Kulavadhu, Malli Madhuve, Kalitaaru Henne- all 1963, won acclaim.

GKV got an opening in tfm in 1964 to compose music for Thirumagal Films’ Magale Un Samathu. (Dir: PA Kumar) Though the film starring Anandan & Rajasri was a massive flop, GKV’s songs showed the stuff he was made of. ‘Anbil aaduthae’ (PBS/PS), ‘Unga manasu oru dhinusu’ (Jamunarani), ‘Kadhai ondru sollava’ (PS), Nallathukku kaalamillai (TMS), ‘Annamidum karangalinaal’ (Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi/LRE), ‘Thatha thatha’ (Manorama/LRE), ‘Sirayilae oru kuraiyillae’ (TA Mothi/ SCK), ‘Aavogulamiyon ’(TMS/TV Rathinam) were the assorted array of songs that the album comprised of.

The same year, Anandan himself produced a film under the banner Anandan Movies. And he assigned to GKV the music score of this film Naanum Manithan Thaan (Dir: AS Rao). And though this film too (Stg. Anandan, Chandrakantha, Pandi Selvaraj, Sheela) sank without a trace, GKV came up with some lingering numbers like ‘Vaa vaa vaa en thalaiva’ (TA Mothi/SJ), ‘Kaatru varum kaalamondru’ (PBS/SJ), ‘Naanum manithan thaanada’(TMS) and ‘Indha indha nillu’ (TMS/LRE).

The following year saw only a solitary Tamil film coming GKV’s way, and that too was because it was produced and directed by the renowned GV Iyer, with whom GKV was working with in a number of Kannada films. GV Iyer Productions’ Thaayin Karunai starred Kalyankumar and a Kannada actress called Vandana, and had some wonderful songs- ‘Netru nadanthathu’ (ALR/SJ), ‘Poonthendral isaipaada’ (PBS- when we mentioned this classic song, PBS closed his eyes in nostalgia, and said proudly that he had sung the Kannada original too for GKV- ‘Bhaa thaayi Bharathiye’ from Thaayi Karulu-1962), ‘Oru kodi paadalukkum’ (SG) and ‘Neram kaalam sariyaa irundhaal’ (Jamunarani).

Unfortunately for GKV, all these three films were not commercial successes, and the merciless gates of Kodambakkam were closed once again for this gifted composer.

However, he continued creating immortal melodies in Kannada films, where he was much sought after by the top banners of the day. Thumbida Koda, Nanna Kartavya-both 1964, Sarvagyanamoorthi, Sati Savitri-both 1965, Killadi Ranga, Madhumaalathi-both 1966, Parvathi Kalyana, Rajshekhara, Rajadurgada Rahasya, Immadi Pulikeshi-all 1967, Jedare Bale, Manasakshi, Goa Dalli CID 999- all 1968, Operation Jackpot Nalli CID 999- 1969 are all noteworthy albums, each one of which has songs that are repeatedly listened to with pleasure to this day.

GKV pulled off a coup of sorts in 1966, when he roped in none other than the revered Pandit Bhimsen Joshi to sing for the Kannada film Sandhya Raga. The song ‘Nambidhe ninna naadha devatheye’ sparkles as a brilliant instance of pristine Hindustani classical music in South Indian film music.

It was only after a long wait that Deivanayagi Films’ Sabatham- 1971 brought GKV back into reckoning in tfm. The film starring KR Vijaya (produced by KRV too?), Ravichandran,TK Bagavathi (in a dual role), Nagesh, Anjalidevi and others was directed by P Madhavan. In Chennai, it proved a modest success in Paragon, Crown & Bhuvaneswari theatres where it was released, and did brisk business elsewhere too. It was a fairly engrossing tale of how KRV, assisted by Ravichandran and Nagesh, avenges her father’s death and her own humiliation at the hands of the wily TKB. The songs were ‘Thoduvathenna thendralo malargalo’ (SPB), ‘Aatathai aadu puliyudan aadu’ (ALR/LRE/GKV), ‘Aadum alaigalil’ (SJ) and ‘Nenjukku needhi undu aiyanaarae’ (SG/LRE).

‘Thoduvathenna thendralo malargalo’ showcases GKV in his elements—the riveting prelude consisting of those dainty string bits that are repeated throughout the song, the masterful way in they are seamlessly interwoven into the fascinating interludes, while the interludes themselves are so unpredictable and enticing in their progression-- And SPB brings such a cajoling mood to the lines, that you just have to fall in love with the song- listen to his voice beam in the end, and the longing that he
expresses, almost akin to a wistful sigh, in the short humming that leads back to the pallavi. Class!

Listen here: http://www.newtfmpage.com/cgi-bin/stream.pl?url=http://www.dhool.com/sotd/thoduvadhenna.rm

And to think that this song, that conjures up such a spectacular panorama on a listen, was so disgustingly crass and unimaginative in it’s filming - Ravichandran enjoying a kinathadi kuliyal, singing and dreaming of his love, and our Punnagai Arasi stealing surreptitious glances at him, with her trademark bashful smile. P Madhavan seemed to have learned very little from his years of apprenticeship under Sridhar!

“ Do you mean to say that only a couple of MDs have the requisite capabilities to compose songs for Tamil films? I can’t understand why it is impossible for any other MD to get a firm foothold in tfm!” GKV is said to have vented his frustration thus in the course of an interview sometime in the beginning of the 70s. Quite natural for someone, who despite being associated with tfm since the late 40s, and despite notching significant successes repeatedly in kfm throughout the 60s, found patronage still not forthcoming in tfm.

In Kannada, GKV was enjoying a cult status, with his songs becoming immensely popular. His works in films like Devara Makkalu, Kasturi Nivasa, Naguva Hoovu- all 1970, Bala Bandhana, Taayi Devaru, Pratidhwani, Thandhe Makkalu- all 1971, Bangarada Manushya, Karmika Kallanalla – both 1972, Doorada Betta, Sampathige Savaal, Bhakta Kumbhara-all 1973, elicited rave reviews.

It was towards the last years of the 60s that GKV took under his patronage a young talented musician called Raja. (Originally Rasiah, later to blossom into Ilaiyaraja) Raja, whose soul was soaked in music, had his skills polished and trained by Dhanraj Master, an acknowledged genius. GKV recognized the innate talents in him, and admitted him in his troupe, where Raja quickly justified the trust that GKV placed in him. Another gifted musician who was assisting GKV during the same period was L Vaidhiyanathan.

In spite of the popularity of the songs of Sabatham, GKV was not flooded with offers in tfm. His next opportunity in Tamil came again from P Madhavan, who had been impressed with GKV’s work in Sabatham. When P Madhavan turned producer under his banner ‘Arun Prasad Movies’, he called GKV to compose music for his film Ponukku Thanga Manasu-1973. (Directed by Devaraj-Mohan under P Madhavan’s supervision)

PTM starred Sivakumar, Jayachitra, Vijayakumar (debut), Vidhubala and others. It was an interesting story of two college mates (Jayachitra & Vidhubala) who were once inseparable, falling out due to ego problems and marrying two friends (Sivakumar & Vijayakumar) who, also by a similar quirk of fate, have drifted apart due a misunderstanding. Later when JC finds that Sivakumar’s new boss happens to be VK, she takes a vow to see her husband rise to a higher level. She works determinedly towards it, and of course, succeeds in the end. To add to the happiness, all clouds of distrust with VK and Vidhubala get cleared. All is well that ends well.

The film was an impressive success, and GKV had contributed to it in no small measure:

Penullamae ponnaanadhadhu -PS & LRE. Lyrics: Poovai Senguttuvan
Then sindhudhe vaanam- SPB & SJ. Lyrics: Kannadasan
Neram iravu neram- LRE. Lyrics: Kannadasan
Thanjaavooru seemailyilae- SG, SJ, BSS & chorus. Lyrics: Muthulingam(his first song)

All the songs are repeatedly featured in AIR’s Listener’s Choice to this day. ‘Then sindhudhae vaanam’ is a song that ensures forever that GKV will be saluted with awe in the chronicles of tfm. I have often heard that it was actually IR who composed this song, and I raised this doubt while talking to PBS. “Oh no, I can vouch that the Kannada original was entirely a GKV creation” he replied promptly.

(The huge popularity of the Kannada and Tamil versions tempted GKV, a couple of years later, to present the same tune in Telugu, and ‘Mrogindi veena’ (Zamindarugari Ammayi) is still held in awe as a spellbinding PS solo)

Every bit, every note, every moment of the song is spellbinding. A wondrous creation.

With such a bewitching opening line as ‘Then sindhudhe vaanam’, that summons vistas of a rain-drenched evening--where the showers beckon the lovers-- where the monsoon waves its magical wand--where the love-stricken hearts are afire with desire within, whilst all is damp and cold without, where few tremulous words of love are shyly whispered, while most of those exciting feelings remain forcibly withheld---

P Madhavan (and Devaraj-Mohan) had sufficient inspiration to come up with a stunning visual sequence. Alas, it is a matter of eternal regret that they were completely bereft of imagination to do justice to this song sculpted to perfection by Kannadasan, GKV, SPB and SJ. The rains fall all right—but through a leaking roof! Sivakumar, clad in banian and lungi, looks on, as Jayachitra, the owner of the house where he is a tenant, is busy mopping up the water that has flooded into the room. And even when he fantasizes of romancing with JC, his facial contortions befitted the agony of someone in the throes of some unbearable pain!

A famine--- in such a fertile field!

Yet, that does take away the spotlight from GKV, as he shines in his finest hour.

Listen on to his best song ever—


Nothing succeeds like success, and with the emphatic success of Ponnukku Thanga Manasu, with ‘Thaen sindhudhe vaanam’ reverberating from every corner teashop, GKV found avenues hitherto closed for him in tfm grudgingly opening up at last. While it wasn’t as though producers were flocking at his gate, he did get some Tamil films in quick succession, immediately in the wake of PTM’s success.

His music was next heard in Arun Prasad Movies’ Murugan Kaatiya Vazhi-1974, again by P Madhavan. The film starred AVM Rajan, Sripriya (debut) and Vidhubala. GKV’s songs like the breezy ‘Eruthamma eruthamma rekkai katti oduthamma’ (TMS) and the soulful ‘Muruga Vadivela unai ariven deivabala’ (SJ & chorus) did receive a fair share of airtime.

The next year fetched GKV 3 films, and he embellished them with some exceptional songs.

Cho’s Yaarukkum Vetkamillai (Prod:A Sundaram, Stg: Muthuraman & JJ) had a splendid score by GKV- ‘En kannirandum seidha paavam paarthathu (SJ), ‘Melum keezhum kodugal podu’ (KJY), ‘Anaiyaadha deepam’ (PS), and ‘Cinemavil varuvadhuppolae’ (TMS/SJ/Manorama, a rollicking song that heralded JJ as a ‘Puratchi Thalaivi’ as early as 1975!) were the varied contents of the album.

Godwin Enterprises’ Thennankeetru (Dir: Kovi.Manisekaran, Stg: Vijayakumar & Sujatha) had the enticing ‘Maanikka maamani maalaiyil’ (SPB/VJ) and the philosophical ‘Aandavan potta pulliyai maatra’ (KJY).

Prasad Productions’ Piriyavidai (Scripted by AS Prakasam, Produced by LV Prasad, Stg: Muthuraman & Pramila) was another film wherein GKV had acquitted himself rather well with his compositions like ‘Mapillaikku mayakkam vandhadhu’ (SPB), ‘Karunaikkadalae kaarmugilvanna’ (GKV/PS) and ‘Ennuyirae ponnoliyae en kaadhal manna’ (SJ).

And--nothing fails like failure. With all these films biting the dust at the box office, despite his good work in them, GKV’s period of limelight in tfm proved evanescent. He didn’t get a single Tamil film again till 1979.

However, it was in these very years that GKV was the monarch of all he surveyed in kfm. His works in films like Mayura (dubbed in Hindi as well), Dari Tappida Maga, Trimoorti- all 1975, Raja Nanna Raja, Baalu Jenu -both1976, Olavu Geluvu, Galatte Samsara, Sose Thandha Sowbhagya – all 1977, Operation Diamond Rocket-1978 etc went on to become super hits.

And it was in 1977 that GKV made history in kfm by bringing Ustad Bismillah Khan all the way from Varanasi to play the Shehnai for the film Sanadi Appanna. Anandalakshmi Enterprises’ Sanadi Appanna (Dir: Vijaya Reddy, Stg. Rajkumar) was based on the story of a Shehnai player, and GKV collaborated with the great Ustad to adorn the film with an alluring album that brought GKV widespread critical commendation. The song ‘karaderu kelade’ has GKV skilfully employing SJ’s vocals and the Ustaad’s Shehnai to create a classical masterpiece the likes of which film music has seldom witnessed.

Again, though he had made a mark in films like Naatakala Raayudu-1969, it was in these intermediate years that GKV made a significant impact in Telugu as well - his songs in films like Zamindarugari Ammayi-1975, America Ammayi-1976 and Tharam Marindi, Chakradhari-both 1977 elicited favourable notice.

We see him venture into tfm again in 1979 with Malligai Mohini.

(NVR Pictures Present) Pallavi Enterprises’ Malligai Mohini starred ‘Julie’ Vikram and Latha. MM was perhaps a horror story revolving on the oft-repeated reincarnation theme. I don’t know much else about this obscure movie (perhaps a bilingual?).

The Mohini has long vanished into the nether world of oblivion, but the entrancing fragrance of her Malligai lingers on to this day, in the form of her songs—indeed GKV had surpassed himself here- each song is a glittering diamond:

1.Oru paadalai pala ragathil- SPB. Lyrics: Kannadasan
2.Naan ketten deva gaanam- SJ, with a humming by Poornachandar. Lyrics: Kannadasan
3.Pattathu raja- TMS/ B Vasantha. Lyrics: Pulamaipithan
4.Kaadhal oru- SPB/SJ. Lyrics: Kannadasan
5.Sringara sangeethame - Poornachandar/SJ. Lyrics: Kannadasan
6.Sugam sugam- SJ. Lyrics: Kannadasan
7.Megangalae ingu vaarungale- SPB. Lyrics: Pulamaipithan

To view the record cover of Malligai Mohini, click here:


‘Megangale ingu vaarungale’ was the song that became the most popular hit, the ‘first among equals’ from the album, and it richly deserved the honor. GKV and SPB come together here to strike terror at the hearts of the listeners, but the terror is so beguiling, that like the clouds whom the hero beckons to help him search for his elusive beloved, we too can’t but be drawn irresistibly into the vortex of the intriguing proceedings. And the roller coaster ride begins- Hang on, and be transfixed—


The early 80s saw GKV continuing to be perched prettily as among the most sought after MDs in kfm. He also made a mark in the few Tamil films that came his way.

Flashback. Circa 1957. Teynampet Congress Grounds. A stage play was being enacted, and a singer was singing.

“Yaarda paadradhu?” asked MSV.
“Namma Raghavanda” replied GKV.

As the two friends stood watching the play, MSV is said to have regretted that they had forgotten their old friend ALR, and determined then and there to give him a break. After all they had known each other since the late 40s. ALR, then hardly in his teens, sang his first song in Vijayakumari-1950 (for Kumari Kamala!) and later was singing for stage plays. After GKV brought ALR back to MSV’s notice, ALR, along with Chandrababu sang ‘ Hello my dear Rami’ (Pudhayal- 1957). And with this song Ayyampettai Lakshmanan Raghavan commenced his chequered career as a playback singer in tfm.

ALR turned producer in 1980 (undeterred the dismal failure of Kallum Kaniyagum- 1968, which he co-produced with TMS). And though Raja Meenakshi films’ Kannil Theriyum Kathaigal (Stg. Saratbabu, Sripriya & Vadivukkarasi) proved a commercial catastrophe, ALR ensured a unique place for it in the annals of tfm, by getting 5 MDs compose its 5 songs: KVM (Vettaikkaaran malaiyilae- TMS), TR Papa (Onnu rendu moonu- BSS/SPS), IR(Naan oru ponnoviyam- SPB/PS/SJ), S-G( Naan unna nenachen- SPB/Jikki/VJ).

The fifth song was by GKV, and his haunting composition ‘Naan paartha rathidevi yengae, naan ketta pudhu paadal engae’ was sung by ALR himself.

Another film for which GKV composed music in 1980 was Sunrise Enterprises’ Chinnanchiru Kiliyae. (Directed by N.Chandrabose). No clue as to its cast etc, the record cover showed a small girl and a priest. Perhaps another supernatural thriller?

One interesting detail about its songs- it had 4 songs, and all the 4 were MV-SJ duets!

1.Sattimutti kazhuvavillai- Lyrics: GA
2.Kanthaangi selai- Lyrics: Poovai Senguttuvan
3.Vaigai neeraada- Lyrics: GA
4.Paavaadai dhaavaniyum- Lyrics: GA

‘Vaigai neeraada’ was the only song from the album that claimed attention on the radio in the early 80s. An unhurried song; mellifluous in its strain, melancholic in its vein. GA has poured in his lyrics the anguish of a love that seems unlikely to win in wedlock. MV and SJ so movingly portray the despair of lovers, whose love has suddenly culminated in a woeful ban, when they were happily awaiting their wedding banns. Yet they sing, dreaming of another birth, when they hope to reunite.

Another fine effort by GKV, wasted on a film that sank without a trace.


We notice that the Tamil Gods seemed to have smiled benignly upon him in 1981, and let 3 films fall into his hand. GKV joyously went about working on their score, for he knew that such abundance was a rare visitor at his door--

Annapurna Art Pictures’ Pennin Vaazhkkai starred Sudhakar, Aruna & Rathi, and its album comprised of 4 memorable PS duets- One with SPB- ‘Janakan pon maane Sriraman naane’ and three with Jayachandran: ‘Maasi maadham muhurtha neram medai mangalam’, ‘Malligai poovil indru punnagai kolam ondru’, and lastly, my favorite ‘Veedu thedi vandhadhu nalla vaazhvu enbathu’, where GKV’s music, Vaali’s lyrics and the euphonious enchantment of PS & JC come together to cast a wondrous spell.

Solar Combines’ Deiva Thirumanangal has a unique place in the history of Tamil Cinema. It was actually 3 separate films- each one with a separate crew and cast. Meenakshi Thirumanam was directed by P. Neelakantan and had music by KVM. Valli Thirumanam was directed by K. Kameswara Rao and had music by GKV. Srinivasa Thirumanam was directed by K. Shankar, with music by MSV. Kannadasan’s dialogues and lyrics were the common factors for the three parts. GKV’s work included songs like ‘Kandhan vandhaan Kandhan vandhaan Valli malai melaaga’(SJ), ‘Yechipputtaene thatha yechipputtaene’ (SPB/SJ) and the short ‘Valli Deivaanaiyudan varam kodukkum Muruganin’ (K.Veeramani). These simple folksy songs couldn’t hold a candle to KVM’s classic creations like ‘Thirumaale seeradum manivanna’ (VJ) and ‘Unakku pani seiyya’ (SG) or MSV’s captivating compositions like ‘Thangam vairam navamanigal’(MBK/VJ), ‘Vaanamum bhoomiyum aalinganam’(PS), ‘Mannavan thannaiye marakka’(PS), ‘Mangai thangai malarkkai’(VJ). Nonetheless, the memory of pretty Sridevi (who played Valli) warding off the birds, singing ‘Vethalai kiliyae sollaadhe veliye odi vaa odi vaa’ (SJ) also endures.

The third film in 1981 for which GKV composed music was Nenjil Oru Mul. The story was fairly engrossing—On the eve of her marriage (arranged by her uncle), Madhu runs away to be united with her lover—only to catch that scoundrel in ‘a compromising situation’ with a woman companion, and to discover that he had wooed her only to usurp her money. Madhu returns home heartbroken and finds her uncle dead from shame. She leaves town, and meets her childhood friend in the train. The friend is now a widow with a small child, and is going to meet her in-laws for the first time. The train meets with an accident, and the friend is fatally wounded. She begs Madhu to masquerade as her, so that her child might have a good future at her in-law’s house. Madhu agrees and proceeds there. She is accepted as the daughter-in-law. She also meets a good-hearted man who has taken to drink as his betrothed had run away on the eve of the wedding--

Seems familiar? It had better, for it is the story that Gulshan Nanda wrote and was immortalised on celluloid in 1970 by Shakti Samanta as ‘Kati Patang’. Excellent performances by Rajesh Khanna and Asha Parekh (Her performance in the film fetched her the Filmfare Award), and winsome music by R.D.Burman added to the film’s appeal tenfold. Besides securing the Filmfare nomination in 6 categories, Kati Patang was a runaway success to boot.

More than a decade later, in 1981 our Mathioli Shanmugam thought it fit to retell the story in a Tamil milieu. Doubtless a good thought--but as they say, the path to hell is paved with such noble intentions, for Nenjil Oru Mul was a very tawdry remake, and made insufferable viewing. Pratap Pothen and Poornima Jairam (debut) played the lead roles. Poornima’s debut in the Hindi film Paheli-1977 didn’t exactly set the Powai lake on fire, but Faazil’s ‘Manjal Virinja Pookal’- 1980 proved to be a lucky threshold to the South and Poornima went on to win the Kerala Govt. Best Actress Award for her very first film. And Nenjil Oru Mul presented her in the Madras marquee.

Anyone would be intimidated when asked to compose for the remake of a musical blockbuster like Kati Patang. But GKV came up with some wonderful songs and today Nenjil Oru Mul is all forgotten, save its music:

Ragam pudhu ragam ini naalum paadalaam- DC & SPS
My name is Rosy, what’s your name please- VJ
Neraagave ketkkiren orey bathil nee indru kooradi- DC & VJ
Sorgama naragama rendum naan kanden- MV
Vaazhkkaiyenum paadhaithanilae- GKV

While the soulful ‘Neraagave ketkkiren’ is my pick of the lot, ‘ragam pudhu ragam’ is no less attractive. 1981 must have a special place in Deepan Chakravarthi’s memories as well, for while IR gave him a piece of immortality in Enakkaaga Kaathiru, Shyam said ‘Vaa Indha Pakkam’ and honored him with ‘Ananda dhaagam’, and GKV gave him two of his best songs ever in Nenjil Oru Mul.

rAgam pudhu rAgam is based on GKV’s own Kannada composition ‘raga anurAga’ sung by Rajkumar & SJ in the 1977 film Sanaadi Appanna. You can listen to it either at http://www.udbhava.com/udbhava/songs.jsp?id=325 or at http://www.musicindiaonline.com/music/l/YY00000I27

You would perceive that on the same foundation, GKV has raised two marvelous monuments—both strikingly similar but structurally different, each one an elegant edifice with mutually exclusive appeal. GKV has reworked rewardingly on ‘rAgam pudhu rAgam’, so that it boasts of a special prelude that ‘Raga anurAga’ didn’t have and the interludes are dazzlingly different. Again, the charanams are longer in the Kannada original, and it has a third charanam too which varies uniquely from the first two. Being an acclaimed Veenai player himself, GKV has masterfully retained it as the mesmerising mainstay in both the versions. Hark at his Veenai caress your ears in the second interlude- so perceptive of GKV, for the charanam begins with the lines ‘meni veenai ondru adhai meetti paarkkavo’!

rAgam pudhu rAgam—idhai nALum ketkkalAm—


GKV continued to be in demand in the Kannada circuit in the early 80s and his works in films like Haavina Hede and Hanabalavo Janabalavo-both 1981, Haalu Jenu-1982, Eradu Nakshatragalu-1983 and Adhe Kannu-1985 became popular hits. However, the emergence of newcomers like Hamsalekha and Vijayanand, coupled with the sustained presence of stalwarts like Rajan-Nagendra, Upendrakumar and M.Ranga Rao saw fewer and fewer films coming his way as the decade progressed.

In Tamil, we meet him next in 1983 with Chitrapriya’s Kashmir Kaadhali. The film was directed by Mathioli Shanmugham, and starred Rajkumar & Rajni Sharma. Rajkumar (in real life, Lata’s brother and Sripriya’s husband) first appeared in Naan Naanethaan- 1980, and later acted in a few films like Deiva Thirumanangal, Anbulla Rajnikanth, Unmaigal and Kaadhal Parisu. Rajni Sharma made her debut in the title role of the Hindi film Balika Badhu-1976. She followed it up with noteworthy roles in insignificant films like Bolo He Chakradaari, Sweety, Aur Kaun etc, and insignificant roles in noteworthy films like Mr.Natwarlal, Prem Geet etc. She also acted in landmark Punjabi films like Lambardarni-1979 and Chann Pardesi-1982. Meanwhile, deciding to woo the susceptibilities of the hapless filmgoers south of the Vindhyas, she arrived as the heroine of Megathukkum Dhaagamundu-1980. Kashmir Kaadhali was the next assault.

The film was unceremoniously sent back to the cans within no time of its release, but our man had yet again come up with an amazing album:

Pooppondra penngalae- KJY. Lyrics: Thanjaivaanan
Sangeethamae- JC & PS. Lyrics: Pulamaipithan
Pudhu sugam- SJ. Lyrics: MG Vallaban
Azhagiya sennira vaanam- SPB & SJ. Lyrics: Pulamaipithan

Both ‘sangeethamE’ and ‘azhagiya senniRa vAnam’ are delectable duets, replete with rich interludes and exciting sequences. PS’s curtain-raising enchantment and the sedate, soulful delineation of ‘nAn koNda sendhooram undhan nenjilE, nAL thoRum sErattum konjum anbilE’, JC’s pleasant, pliant voice ushering in the rapture of romancing amidst gently falling snowflakes in ‘Kashmirin sAral, panneerin thooRal—poonkARRu vAzhthu solli pOginRathO’, SPB’s amused manly wonder at the woman’s eccentricities in ‘Ennenna thAn nANamO bAvamO’, followed by SJ’s indolent, sensuous drawl of ‘azhagiya senniRa vAnam’ and her delicious variation in the repetition of ‘AgAyam bhoomi angE onRAga Anathu’ are some bewitching moments that bring to our recall the magic that these artistes were capable of.



1984 saw the belated release of Seshasayee Films’ Azhagu, which was years in the making. The film produced by A. Sundaram and directed by K. Vijayan, holds the distinction of being Nadigaiyar Thilagam Savithri’s last film. Its other distinction was, of course, Radio Ceylon ’s favorites like ‘Devi vandhaal thanimaiyil ullasam theda’ (SPB/SJ), ‘Mounamalla mayakkam’ (JC/SJ), ‘Azhagenum kavithai aayiram varaindhaan’ (PS) and ‘Nalla saapadu’ (SJ, SPS & Chorus)- all wonderful GKV- Vaali collaborations.

Inaindha Kodugal’- 1985 was GKV’s last film in Tamil. Indha vizhalukku Venkatesh vArtha neer: ‘Ennai konjam thirumbipaaru’ (VJ), ‘Azhagiya malarkkodi, pazhagiya manikkili’(KJY/VJ) and ‘Ananda bodhai ennodu’(VJ).

When MSV and IR came together to make history in AVM’s Mella Thirandhadhu Kadhavu-1986, GKV had a small part to play—he acted in the role of Mohan’s musician father. His nonchalant cameo won favorable reviews. Ironically enough, his dialogues were dubbed by V.Gopalakrishnan!

Left with no films, in 1987 GKV made the big blunder of turning producer, and the alarming failure of the Ramarajan-Revathi starrer Gramathu Minnal-made him prudent and penniless.

IR then took him into his fold, and GKV remained an essential element of IR’s ensemble till 1993, when years of bacchanalian indulgence finally took their toll, and GKV made his final bow---‘kAlam vandhadhu, kadhai mudindhu pOgiREn’—as the lines of his song go.

And in his death, he brought together two of his old friends. After years of very little communication, MSV and TKR met at his funeral, and as they hugged each other and wept over the loss of their old associate, their differences seemed to disappear. And thus GKV left on his last journey, IR and GA leading the mourners, MSV and TKR following the convoy--

Singer--Music Director--Actor---GKV has left behind his firm footprints in the varied sands of time. ‘A highly talented composer, dynamic and imaginative in his arrangements’ says PBS, who notched up a significant tally of songs under GKV’s baton. VJ echoes the same sentiments ‘An unassuming man, he was also a technical wizard- even in his last years in IR’s troupe, he was in charge of ‘balancing’ in which he was an acknowledged expert’ she recalls.

20 odd Tamil films, and save two, all were colossal catastrophes. These were the cards that destiny dealt him, but hey, GKV played his hand to the best of his ability.

To listen to some more songs of GKV:

‘Maanika maamani maalaiyil’- SPB & VJ from Thennankeetru- 1975


‘Oru paadalai pala ragathil’ – SPB from Malligai Mohini-1979