Manisegaran on T.R.Mahalingam
TR Mahalingam used to act and sing in the stage dramas popularly called special dramas. During childhood days his companion was SC Krishnan and a few other youngsters. But in those days ther was no microphone facility, and amplifiers were uncommon. Therefore singers had to sing aloud to reach the full audience. This was how the early singers like TRM,SG Kittappa, SCKrishnan, MKTB and to a large extent TMS trained their voices.That may explain why these singers are able to reach high pitch. In 1933 SG Kittappa died at an early and unexpected age of 28. There was a complete vacuum after his death. Fortunately, TRM was there to console the old timers. While SGKittappa was still alive TRM used to sing in the style of SGK, and almost tin the same manner.
DEBUT INTO CINE FIELD
When TRM was a successful singer cum actor he was dragged into the celluloid world to act and sing at the same time. At the age of 14 TRM got a chance to act in the film called Nandakumar.hat was the 3rd film of AVM taken in 1937. It was a story about Krishnabhagavan. The film was originally taken on a grand manner by some northerners in Pune(Poona?) Big settings were created to shoot the film in Marati and Hindi. AVM wanted to grab the opportunity to film it in Tamil as well.He signed a contract with the northerners. The Tamil version was shot to a length of 9,000 feet. But soon he learnt that the Hindi and Marathi films were meeting continuous failure. Therefore AVM rushed to Poona to termninate his original contract. In its place he bought outright copyright to film it in Tamil. TRM was signed up to act in the role of Krishna.He made some changes and released. The film did not run well. Nevertheless the film was praised for some wonderful songs.
But the film Sri Valli lifted him.He acted as Murugan. This film was initiated during the 2nd World War. The British made a ruling that no film should exceed the length of 11,000 feet. Somehow AVM went ahead and released it. This film ran for many days and earned the support of the masses. TRM was already a "superstar" after this film. His rate went up.
AVM took Nam Iruvar followed by Vethala Ulakam in Karaikkudi. The Bharatiyar song were kept by the Surajmahal and Sons who owned a gramaphone company in Rattan Bazar in Madras. They had bought the rights at RS600. Bu AVM bought over the copyright for RS 10,000. Baharathiyar's songs and used many of his songs in Nam Iruvar. Of course later he handed over the rights to the government to make them public domain.
Nam Iruvar was released first in Madurai in 1948. It was originally a drama. The role acted by Sahasranamam went to TRM. The others who acted in the film were BR Bantulu, TR Ramachandran, VK Ramasamy and Sarangapani. The very first scene was a Bharathy song called "Aaducome Pallu Paaduvome" which portrayed Kumari Kamala(Double acting) dancing on a gigantic drum. This first scene itself earned loud applause from the audience. It was only in March that the movie was released in Madras. Neelakandan and TR Mahalingam went to Madurai to see the film. Immediately after the film the audience identified TRM who was present there, carried him high and danced around with joy. The grand success could be attributed to the immediate post independence jubiliation as well as Bharathiyar songs. To a large extent the voice, songs and the personality of TRm contributed to the sucess of the movie. At a time when people were verym much attuned to Maya Jala movies, a film of social theme, Nam Iruvar broke record.i is saidthat TRM had also sang some of theSG Kttappa's songs in Nam Iruvar. I do not know which the songs are. Any old timer there?
Pammal Sammantha Mudaliyar's story was taken as Vedala Ulakam. For Vedala Ulakam it was TA Krishnasamy who wrote dialogue while KD Santhanam wrote the songs, with Sudarsanam as the MD. The film saw the debut of the Travangoor Sisters- lalitha and Pathmini who performed dance under the training of Udaya Shanker. This film had some Bharathiyar songs as well.Sarangapani, Rajakantham and TRM acted in this film.
After these films he acted in famous move like Gnanasundari, Laila Majnu and Idaya Geetham. Therefter he became ambitious and took his own movies. They are Mohanasundaram, Chinnadurai,Macharegai, Theruppadagan an Vilyattu Bommai. The last two never got released.He then lost all his wealth and fame. It was Kannadasan's malayitta Mangai which restored his lost glory.
Interesting background to Malayitta Mangai coming soon.
(Today, June 24 is Kannadasan's Birthday. Therefore mention of his movie is most relevant)
When TR Mahalingam lost his fortune even those closest to him deserted him. S. Varalachumy also left him and teamed up with A.L.Seenivasan. TR Mahalingam was shattered.
Around this time Kannadasan was getting too irritated by several personalities in the cine field. He saw that there was no freedom for him to exhibit his full talents and potentials. Directors, producers and even big stars kept on interfering in his songs. He was waiting for the right time to start his own movie. The film Mahadevi had his direct involvemnent in the writing of dialogue. There is one song by AM Raja and P. Suseela in Mahadevi-"kan Moodum Velayilum Kalai Enna Kalaiye, Kanne Un Perazhagin vilai intha ulage". Visvanathan and Ramamurhty are the MDs. The situation was explained. Kathali waits for the kathalan in the poonga, seeing that there was no sign of his coming, she falls asleep. The kathalan comes by and, seeing that she has fallen asleep, menmaiyaga rubs her face. She wakes up in shock and immediately the kathalan starts to sing. The original song that Kannadasan wrote for that situation was:
"Naananri Yaar varuvaar-ila
nangai unai veru yaar thoduvaar?" MGR immediately asked for another substitute, saying that that song was too slow. Therefore Kannadasan had to write "Kan moodum Velayilum". But his heart was still with "Naananri Yaar varuvaar"
Such unneccessary interventions got to Kannadasan's nerve. He felt that the only way to show his full potential was to produce his own film with excellent songs.
In 1958 he started his own film company- Kannadasan Pictures. He wnet ot look for Nageswararao to book him as the main hero. But he was at the heigh of popularity, and as is always usual of cine characters, the Rao was very rude and sarcastic towards Kannadasan. He also asked for a very high rate. Then he decided to produce a low budget film with other features to boost the film, notably the songs. It wa at this time that he heard of TR Mahalingam's fate. Kannadasan knew that TRMahalingam would not ask for a high rate in view of his situation then. But many of Kannadasan's supporters advised Kannadasan not to use an actor who has lost complete fame and name in the cinema field. But Kannadasan said that he was producing a musical movie, not one with star strength.
TR Mahalingam agreed to act at any rate offered by Kannadasan. As the production work started, the DMK "thanga kambikal" started to instigate other DMK supporters. Kannadasan himself was a DMK member at that time. DMK was an anti Brahmin party then. So they said that his movie would not run if a brahmin(TRM) was used in the movie. Kannadasan said that he would make TR Mahalingam sing a song praising the DMK party in an indirect way. The film was completed. Many DMK members were swarming the theatre.
The very first scene was a pullarikka vaikkum scene with a very high pitch title song by TRM. The thogayara went like this:
Vinthiyam Kumariyidai vilangumn Thirunaade
Velenthum Mooventhar aandiruntha thennade..
Engal Dravida Pon Naade..
Immediately after this the song proper starts off like this:
Engal Thiravida Pon Naade-kalai
vaazhum Then naade..
Iyal ISai Nadagam aram Porul Inbam
Ilangum Senthamizh naade..
By this time the DKM supporters started to clap for the song. the fil was very wellreceived by Tamilnadu. Although Visvanathan and Ramamurhty had been MDs for several other movies prior to Malayitta Mangai, it was from this film that theri fame really shot up. There were 17 songs altogether. Let me recollect some off hand:
1.Naananri Yaar Varuvaar
2. Engal Dravida Pon Naade
3. Senthamizh then mozhiyaal(TRM)
4. Senthamizh then mozhiyaal( K. Jamunarani)
5. Akkarai seemaikku pona Machan
6. Malayitta Mangai illai
7. Magale Magale paradi
8. Annam Pola Pennirukku Aasai Konda Manamirukku
9. malayittu Manam Mudichu Pottu Vachu Poo Mudichu
10. Illaram Onre Nallaram Enravar vazhavum vida maattaar
11. Manal Kooda Oru Naalil Thenagalaam
In this film Kannadasan was able to pen his songs as he wished without the interference of the big guns. He brought back the secene and the song that MGR rejected in Mahadevi. The herine Mainavathi waits for TRM in a poonga. TRM appears from the rear unexpectedly and closes her eyes. The shoked Mainavathi turns around. TRM starts:
"Naananri Yaar Varuvaar-ila
nangai unai veru yaar thoduvar"
Kannadasan was very satisfied the way this scene turned up in the movie. There is yet one more unique feature in this song. When SG Kittappa used to sing without the assistance of the PA system,his voice could be heard one mile away. But TRM's voice could reach at least three quarter of a mile when he sang in high pitch. TRM sang almost all his songs in high pitch. the great G Ramanathan tailored a song to make TRM sing in both high and low pitch. In Manimegalai TRM was made to sing with Banumathy who never could sing in high pitch. In the song "Kankalin Vennilave"TRM sings with a high pitch while Banumathy sings with a low pitch. In the tail end of the song both TRM and Mahalingam sing in a very low pitch.
But in the film Malayitta Mangai TRm requested the mellisai mannarkal to compose tune where he could sing the full length in low pitch. The song Nananri Yaar varuvaar is about the only song where he sang in lowest pitch with AP Komala.
Manorama's debut was in Malayitta Mangai.
After Malayitta Mangai TRMahalingam's market was restored, but only for a short span of time for various reasons. There were more new comers with newer talents. Some stars dominated. As TRM was a singer and actor at the same time, he could not do away with singing.His acting was more suited to the dramas. In social movies there were stars who did better than him. His voice again was admired by limited fans. TRM could not giver ultra modern songs. TMS, PBS and AMR were changing the taste of the Tamil film music. So TRM lost in the battle called survival of the fittest.
He once again went into oblivion. From time to time he appeared in some movies, not as hero, but in character roles. Even then he had to restrict to Purana type of films. He just could not be versatile. Look at agathiyar, Raja Raja Chlan, Thiruvilayadal etc.
THE FILMS OF TRM- (from memory)
4. Vilayaattu Bommai
8. Sri Valli
12. Aada Vantha Deivam
17.Sri Valli(of Sivaji Ganesan)
19.Raja Raja Cholan
21. Thirumalai Deivam
22. Kavalai Illatha Manithan
24.Thanthaikku Pin Thamaiyan
30. Laila Majnu
TRM is a great singer with limited fans, especially the old timers. G Ramanathan had a liking for his voice. TMS used to fear the voice of TRM in the film Sri Valli TRM was to start off a 6 minute song, followed by TMS. The moment TRM started the rehearsal TMS ran to G Ramanathan and said that shopuld he continue after TRM he would lose out completely. But GR who was aware of the difference between their voices modified the music and assured TMS that it would be alright. The TMS song continues as "Loga Nayaga" in thehighest possible pitch, perhaps next ot "Ongaramaai Vilangum Natham" in Vanangamudi.
MY FAVOURITE SONG BY TRM
1.Kannirandum Onrai Onru Kaana Mudiyuma
2.Unnai Kana Engum
3.Senthamizh Then Mozhiyaal
4.Aasai Konden Amuthame
5.Kodi Kodi Inbam Perave
6.Aasai Kiliye azhaithu Varai Thenrale Thendrale
8.Adaikatti Vantha Nilavo
9.Kalai Vain Kalyani Un Meni Theenjuvai Tharum Mangani
10.Naananri Yaar Varuvaar
11.Sangam Muzhangivarum Singara Thamilkalaiye
12.Ilaya Kanniyin Azhagiya Vathanam Malarnthathev vithamno
13.Aadalaama nadam Aadalaama
15.Katchiyum Neethan Katpanaiyum Neethan
16.Nigar Vaazhvinile Aanandam
17.Padikka Padikka Nenjl Inikkum Paruvam Enra Kavuyam
18.Kathalukku Naalu Kankal
19. Aadivarum Thenralile Nanthalaala
20.Maduramana Rusi Ullathe
21.Engal Thiravida Pon Naade
22.Thingal Mudi Choodum Malai
23.Paattu Venuma Cinema Pattu Venuma
24. Aandavan Padaippiniley Naan Kanda Atputha Pen vadive
27.Naan Deivama Illai Nee Deivama
28. Isai Thamizh Nee Seitha
29.Unakkakave Pirantha Azhagan
31. Pulli Manai Pole Neeyum Thulli Thulli Oduraai
32.Oh Jegamathil Kanbathellam Ethanale
33.Vaanulaavum Thaarai Neeye Idhaya Geethame
34. Vennila Kudai Pidikka
36.Sottu sottunu sotuthu paru ingey-muttal payale moolai irukka?