T M Soundararajan: An Alchemist who mixed melodies with emotions

Published: 26th May 2013 08:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th May 2013 07:44 AM   |  A+A-

Legendary playback singer T M Soundararajan, who passed away here on Saturday after a brief illness, had the amazing knack of imbibing the idea of a scene and then putting in the necessary emotions in his rendition.

Noted writer Vamanan, whose Oru Pann-Paattu Sarithiram remains the best biography on the versatile singer, told Express that TMS was unparalleled in expression of emotions.

“Sivaji Ganesan’s acting was in many ways highly melodramatic. TMS sung in a way that he synced perfectly with his style of acting. In no other language would you find such an actor-singer match. It was as if Sivaji himself was singing,” he says.

But it was not just Sivaji Ganesan who favored TMS. Professor at the Asian College of Journalism, Sampath Kumar, whose 75-part series on Tamil film music for BBC radio dedicated three episodes to TMS, says songs of former chief minister M G Ramachandran, which usually carried a dose of moral preaching and political overtones, were provided with the necessary effect-exaggeration by TMS’ high-pitched singing.

Can one forget Naan Aanai Ittal from Enga Veetu Pillai?  Or his very first song for MGR, Ettanai Kaalam Thaan Ematruvai Intha Naatile? from Malai Kallan? Though from a different epoch, they were both aimed at MGR’s political adversaries. The songs, even today, invoke memories of the MGR’s charisma.

“We could also say he changed his voice according to the actor. The voice had a different tone for MGR than the tone he used for Sivaji,” says Sampath Kumar.

Between 1950s and 1970s, TMS  rendered over 11,000 songs in Tamil. He was the favorite of composers M S Vishwanathan and T K Ramamurthy, who paired him with P Suseela to give unforgettable duets.

Vamanan says TMS also forayed into acting and donned the lead roles in four movies — Pattinattar, Arunagirinathar, Kallum Kaniyagum and Kavi Kalamegam. He has also appeared on screen singing for songs such as Avalukenna, Azhagiya Mugam, from Server Sundaram. However, TMS’ career began to wane following the emergence of Illayaraja as the dominant music composer in Tamil cinema. Though Soundararajan featured in Illayaraja’s first movie Annakili, he preferred the more subtle Balasubrahmanyam for his compositions.

TMS is survived by wife, two sons and a daughter.

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