Sudha Raghunathan is the one whom I can say my Guru of Carnatic Music. She’s my Drona and I’m her Ekalavya. (But I won’t give her my thumb as Fees). Though I could not learn Music from her directly, I learned from her by listening to her Cassettes and CDs. First my mother became her fan and started listening to her songs. That time I was not aware of pure form of Carnatic Music as I just entered my teenage. But I had an affinity towards the Classical songs in the films like Sindhu Bhairavi, Unnal Mudiyum Thambi (Courtesy KB). Later I got an interest to identify ragas of a few Film songs (Courtesy Mohan Vaidhya).
It all started with the famous Bharathiyar song “Chinnanchiru Kiliye Kannamma…” sung by Sudha and it created a magic in me. Especially when she sings the line “Kannathil Muthamittaal…” I felt like someone pecks on my cheek literally. I kept listening to it and sang the song in a Music competition in my 10th Std. The same song got me the First Prize in my 11th Std.
When I was in 2nd year Engineering, I heard Sudha singing the famous song of Oothukkadu Venkata Subbiyer, “Asaindhadum mayil onru…” I was just mesmerized by the way the song was composed and flawlessly sung by Sudha. From that moment I had become a die-hard fan of Carnatic Music and of course SR. Eventhough I have listened to the same song sung by various artistes, still SR is the Best. Her Album titled “ALAIPAYUTHE KANNA” contains the songs of Oothukkadu is my most favourite Album till date. If anyone wants to learn Carnatic music, they can start with those songs which help have control over breath while singing. One can also improve his/her Tamil pronunciation by practising those songs. Especially the lines:
“KaRutha kuzhalodu niRutha mayil siRagirukki amaitha thirathile
Gaana mayilaadum neela kuyil paadum neela nadhiyodum vanathile
Kuzhal mudhal ezhilasai kuzhaiya varumisayil kuzhalodu miLiriLan karathile
Kadhirum madhiyum ena nayana vizhigaL iru naLinamaanda salanathile…”
Later I started collecting most of her Albums and recommend others to listen to it.
In my opinion, Bombay Jayashri sings with a very low pitch, whereas Nithyasree sings at extremely high pitch. Sudha can sing in both low pitch and high pitch. She can sing any kind of raga very well, whether it’s a soft Sahana or a hard Thodi. But for my uncles Bombay Jayashri is the best in this generation. My granny says after MS it’s BJ. But for me SR is the Best.
Though her contemporaries Bombay Jayashri and Nithyasree are popular among common audiences because of their Film songs, Sudha has her unique place in the Hearts of Music Lovers in spite of a few renditions of film songs. Her songs in “Ivan” are of her kind but the song “Kadhal periyadha kaamam periyadha…”from the movie Satham Podaadhey is the biggest blunder Sudha has ever made as MLV did in “Ayyasamy Aaojisamy…”. When Ilayaraja made her singing Carnatic songs in films, A.R. Rahman too was keen to make her sing in “Yelelo”, Yuvan tried to spoil her image by the song. This is the only song of Sudha which I hate to the core though I haven’t yet watched the film and song. Her voice suited to Late Actress Soundarya in Ivan and also to the legend Shabana Azmi in the crossover movie “Morning Raga” where Shabana’s lip sync is perfect for the “Thaye Yashodha…” fusion song.
Once the great Music Critic Late Mr. Subbudu had mentioned that if he had to be in a No man’s land, he would take Bhagavad Gita, his Vethalai Petty and Casettes of Sudha Raghunathan’s songs along with him. Sudha was overwhelmed by this statement of Subbudu and told that it’s like the most prestigious Award for her.
She participates in the “THIYAGARAJA ARADHANA” every year at Thiruvaiyaaru as well as Cleveland; but I have not found any of her albums for Pancharatna Kritis. I would like her to release the album of “Pancharatna Kritis” soon.
I would like to dedicate this blog to my “Maanaseeka Guru” on her Birthday and wish her to keep singing like M.S.Subbulakshmi with her God-gifted voice. I also wish she would get the Bharat Ratna Award like the great MS. Now listening to “Vandhanamu Raghu nandana…” Thiyagarajar Kriti composed in Sahana raga.