Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Melody Floating in on the Breeze

The iconic rendition of 'Kaatrinile varum geetham', by Carnatic doyenne M.S. Subbulakshmi, of course.

My mother always loves to recount how I loved the song so much as a toddler, that it was among the earliest that I could lisp out in my baby voice, astounding my aunt who had to concede that yes, Suji was indeed singing that song, even as she had barely started to talk!

I had read accounts that said it was based on an older version of a Hindi song, rendered by the inimitable Juthika Roy, and later adapted to become the even more famous 'Kaatrinile', but internet searches to locate the original proved fruitless, until today.

The original version of 'Toot gayi man beena' was sung, not by Juthika Roy, but by a lesser-known but equally melodious Sheela Sarkar, as part of a private selection of songs. Here it is:

'Kaatrinile' is almost a complete lift of the original tune, with some minor changes in the orchestration, as can be seen below.

Does this make the copy less iconic? In my case, it is still the M.S. version which holds a spine-tingling charm, probably the result of it being associated with my earliest memories. But I remain grateful that the original version by Sheela Sarkar has finally seen the light of day and can be acknowledged as a lovely precursor.


Balachandran V said...

Listening to Katrinile varum geetham, I was transported back to my boyhood in the '60s; I grew up with Tamil film songs along with Hindi and Malayalam. My favorites remain: Vantha naal mudhal, Oraayirum paarvayile, Sindhu nadiyin isai. And thanks to youtube, I listen to them quite often. And P Susheela's Atthan! wow! I am a devotee of Soundararajan!

Your post took me down memory lane...

Sujatha said...

Did you know that Oraayiram paarvayile was lifed from 'Sau baar janam lenge'? (, sung by Rafi. The original music direction was by (Bombay) Ravi, as he was known down in the south, when he started doing music direction for Malayalam films (Nakakshathangal, Panchagni, etc.)
'Sindhunadiyin misai' is a lovely song too, based on a composition by Bharathiyar.
If you are a TMS devotee, you must have heard his songs in Paasamalar, Parasakthi too, among others. And even something like 'Vasanthamullaippole' from Saarangadhara?

Lekhni said...

Katrinile is definitely a very haunting melody and one of my favorites. But in general I like MS's voice in later years when it becomes richer in timbre. My current favorite is not even a song - its her Kanakadhara Stotram. Love the cadence.

Sujatha said...

I'm not so sure about the 'richer in timbre' part. It's natural for the voice to drop in pitch as the singer ages. DKP is a classic example. It was an eye-opener for me to listen to an early version of her "Bhajare gopalam' and "Maamava pattabhi'-- If I hadn't known who was singing it, I would have said Nithyashree, but with a less nasal tinge. (found those on indianmusicarchive on
I'm fond of both the early MS, as well as her later ones, but prize the earlier ones more for the voice and later ones for the vidwat and technique.

Lekhni said...

Yes, the first time I listened to DKP I too noticed how much like Nithyasree she sounded. (Of course, it's the other way around, which is part of Nithyasree's cachet)