Friday, 27 July 2018

Renditions For Life - My Playlist of Chitra's Numbers

Pleasure is the word one remembers when listening to her vocals. Metaphorically referred to as 'Chinna Kuyil', the records K S Chitra has created in the Tamil film industry in the past 33 years of her career would be difficult to break by any playback singer of this age.

Having won six national film awards, the highest by a female vocalist, and 25,000+ songs, she is still mesmerising with her voice with the recent additions like 'Malargal Ketten' of OK Kanmani in 2015, and 'Konji Pesida Venam' from Sethupathi in 2016.

The legendary singer, who celebrates her 55th birthday today, has established her presence in the playlists of music lovers across three generations.

Here I make my playlist with notable renditions of this Nightingale of the South.


Chinna Kuyil Paadum - Poove Poochudava - 1985

This was one of the earliest songs of Chitra's career in Tamil. Sung for actress Nadhiya, this song has a special trivia. The director of Poove Poochudava, Fazil, was impressed by the singer's voice in the same song of the movie's Malayalam version, Nokkethadhoorathu Kannum Nattu(1984). So, Fazil was stubborn that Chitra sing the song in the Tamil remake also. So, Ilayaraja finally gave Chitra the chance. Eventually, after the release, the song led the singer to earn the title Chinna Kuyil.

Kannaalane - Bombay - 1995

One of the goosebumps-guaranteed songs rendered by Chitra and considered the best of her came out in the composition of A R Rahman. It is said Chitra's voice and its blending with the ghazal instrumentation led filmmaker Mani Ratnam to envisage the picturisation of the song in a grand palace.

Engey Enathu Kavidhai - Kandukondain Kandukondain - 2000

Placed in the movie in a very crucial situation, where the heroine gets to know about the engagement of her lover to another girl, the amalgamation of Chitra's voice with soulful instrumentation made it a default number in every other radio station then. It is considered one of the best female love failure songs in Tamil till date.


Madura Marikozhunthu - Enga Ooru Pattukkaran - 1987

The songs that had Chitra and Mano singing duets have always been a musical treat. This one is tops. A raw folk flavour of Ilayaraja's composition, this song was one of the top hits of that year. The song's USP was the nativity and the way every word was pronounced by the singers.

Oh Priya Priya - Idhayathai Thirudathe - 1989

Despite being a song in a dubbed version of a Telugu movie, Geetanjali, this song is one of the masterpieces of Chitra, a duet with singer Mano. Recorded in high octaves, the song was an experiment of Ilayaraja. The tragedy of the situation flows through the emotional tone of Chitra enriching the mood of the movie.

Chinna Ponnuthaan - Vaikasi Poranthaachu - 1990

This is one of the most unnoticed and underrated songs of the singer. Once again sharing the vocals with Mano, this song stands out because of the raw presentation. This song won her a State award.

Thenkizhakku Cheemaiyile - Kizhakku Cheemayile - 1993

The pallavi of this song is irreplaceable. The way Chitra and Jayachandran have sung it in a single stretch is claimed by a lot of singers of Chitra's era and after as impossible to repeat. Also, the dead slow tempo of the vocals with rural lyrics brings tears to the eyes of music-lovers even today.

Nee Oru Kaadhal Sangeetham - Nayagan - 1987

With shots planned to be filmed in open space like Gateway of India, Mani Ratnam demanded a romantic song that would echo for years. And, Ilayaraja's choice was Chitra and Mano to render this duet. The pleasing vocals of both the lead singers in open throat made this match the expectations of the filmmaker.

National awards

Though Chitra was introduced to cinema through the Malayalam industry in the late 1970s, it was a Tamil song that popularised her across India. And, all these three are my favourites as well.

When Ilayaraja experimented a folk-classical medley in the 1986 blockbuster Sindhu Bhairavi's Paadariyen Padippariyen, Chitra was his first choice. Eventually, she was conferred with her first national award for best female playback singer.

The second award for a Tamil song and fifth in her career came years after, when she recorded Maana Madura in Minsaara Kanavu for AR Rahman in 1996.

Finally, her last national award, too, was for a Tamil song composed by Bharadwaj, the magical Ovvoru Pookkalume in Cheran's Autograph during 2004.

- Santhosh Mathevan,
Chennai, July 27, 2018.

A part or complete version of this listicle by Santhosh Mathevan has appeared in This is completely based on the perceptions of Santhosh Mathevan alone. This does not reflect the views of two or more people or a community. Queries and criticism shall be addressed to the writer only. Photos/images appearing on the post are sourced from various sites across the web.