Chembaka pushpa suwasita yamam…. Yesudas is crooning that wonderful MBS song from Yavanika…You are listening and picturing a time and place in front of a wood-cased valve radio, fingering its piano key selector array and looking at the magic ‘cat’ eye twinkling green, But no, Yavanika was actually a 1982 movie!!
I grew fond of MB Srinivasan’s music when I first heard his songs from the movie Ulkadal. Then came songs from the movies Yavanika, followed by Chillu and I adored those melodious numbers…. Many of this generation may not know MBS; he passed away some eighteen years ago.
Life went on, countries, continents and days passed by. His songs moved to the ‘old songs collection’ in my hard drive to be double-clicked on rarely. Today MBS re-entered my thoughts. I thought I will pen a few words on that great man who made me hum many a tune in the bathroom.
MBS always maintained a low profile in the news media, you read very little about him these or even those days.MBS was not a Mallu, Inhabitants of Chitoor in Andhra Pradesh could not have imagined Manamadurai Balakrishnan Srinivasan Iyengar, born 1925 would go on to become a music maestro, or practise his art in languages not theirs. Born in a rich family, music was integral in his early life, but higher studies took MBS to Madras Presidency College. Bharatiyar was working up patriotic fervour at that time with his songs and the freedom struggle was peaking. It was MBS’s communist leanings which then took him to Delhi and exposed him to plays, music and many other people & languages. Here he met, fell in love with and later married Zahida Kitchlew a Kashmiri Muslim, daughter of the freedom fighter Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew. Doing music for films was another matter though, he did hardly 8-9 movies in the Tamil world, but Malluwood beckoned and here MBS flourished.
He was the one who gave Yesudas his first solo song in Kalpadukal, and also his first duet with Shanta P Nair (a time when the stalwarts would not sing with a newcomer) in the same movie. He worked with all the great singers of the time. MBS was again the man who gave Jayachandran his great award winning song ‘Ragam sree ragam’. He gave Usha Uthup her movie hit, Peethambara O Krishna, and even penned the lyrics for her chirpy ‘Under the mango tree’ in Madana maligai.
National integration and patriotism were themes that always drove him and he believed in using music to instil these into children. Thus started his choral work. MBS started the Madras Youth Choir many years ago. M Jayachandran, todays hit music director used to work in the MBS choir!! Many a singer graduated out of his Choir, people like Kavita Krishnamoorthy, Sudha Ranganathan, the list goes on. Tragically, he died of a heart attach while conducting a choir in Lakshdweep in 1988.
Oh! He was a great man, involved in a many activities, making his mark in all he did. Radio, AIR, movies, societies…..Many of the great radio jingles of the 70’s and 80’s were directed by MBS!!He even acted out the main protagonist’s role in the controversial John Abraham movie ‘Agraharathile kazutha’.
Today’s music directors and lyricists owe a lot to him; He was instrumental in guaranteeing them their royalty payments by helping establish the IPRS Indian Performance Right Society Ltd (IPRS).
His son Kabir survives MBS. Zahida passed away in 2002.
(N Saravanan via Dhool.com contributed much of the information. The picture was extracted from http://www.ghantasala.info/pictures/from-kvr/80_copy.html) .One good article was located in the Hindu
My MBS favourites
Oru vattom koodiya,
Mizhikalil nira kathirayi,
Sharabindu manideepa naalam,
Ente kadinjool pranaya
MBS conducted music in these movies
Kalpadukal, Mukhamukham, Ulkadal, Sukhamo devi, Swati tirunal, Swapnadanam, Nirmalyam, Parasparam, Manssinde teerthayatra, Valarthu mrigangal, Idavazhiyle Poocha Mindapoocha, Melam , Venal , Ilakkangal , Kathi , Manimathoorile aayiram Shiva Rathrikal, Yavanika , Lekhayude maranam oru flash back , Kolangal , Aadaaminte variyellu , Chillu, Meenamasathile sooryan , Prem naseerine kaanmaanilla, Kodiyettam , Swayamvaram , Mukhamukham , Elippathaayam , Anantaram , Bandhanam , Amrutham gamaya , Puthiya aakaasam puthiya bhoomi, Parasparam , Sagaram santham , Oppol , Jaalakam , Kadal , Oru Kochu Swapnam , Nurse, Sivathandavam, Aarathi, Thatamme poocha poocha