P Susheela and TM Soundarajan | Iruvar Ullam and Pale Pandiya
Reupped by reader request here. While Chennai-based Tamil-language cinema shares many elements of its Mumbai/Hindi counterpart, anyone who has heard a lot of Bollywood music is going to find that of Kollywood a bit off -- in a really, frankly, awesome way. For one thing, the voices are more, how to say, "wobbly." Whereas 1930s-40s Bollywood boasted smooth-voiced, hard-drinkin' KL Saigal, Kollywood from roughly the same period was exploiting straight-edge Carnatic diva MS Subbalakshmi. Which is not a slight to Saigal, who was one of the 20th century's greatest singers ... but. By the early sixties -- which is when the soundtracks for the two films included here were recorded -- P Susheela had well-established herself as the Lata Mangeshakar of the southern subcontinent; TM Soundarajan was something akin to her Kishore. I have no idea how important either of these films were in the Kollywood scheme of things (although I did note that both seem to have been recently remade -- or, at least, their titles were borrowed), but the music, half a century later, is still nothing short of delightful.
I found this CD in an as-yet-to-be disclosed location last weekend. I'm hesitant to tip my hand at this point because, while I picked up several Tamil recordings, there is still a good-sized batch there that I'd like to revisit this weekend, if I have time. If I'm lucky, and snag it all, we'll have tunes here for, like, ever. [Update: I've pretty much vacuumed every last Kollywood CD from the place, which is on 74th Street in Jackson Heights. I'll be posting previously unposted material from that haul in the weeks to come.]