MB Srinivasan, A tribute

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,
Chembaka pushpa
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


Anonymous said...


M Jayachandran was a memebr of my junior batch in TKM College of Engineering Kollam. I think he is from TVPM and at that time was an SFI Activist. He was a ver good singer. He contested as the Arts Club Secretary on an SFI ticket and was defeated by my Class mate Sajith. Sajith is now an IHRD-E director in Kerala, (Vakkom's nominee)- soon to be replaced by Achuthanadna's son, I guess. Here are more details:

So he is not that old!

Anonymous said...

that guy MJ is a fantastic singer (though he has still not overcome stage fright yet). I love his ....etho rakili padi, pranayathin hamsaganam.....


Anonymous said...

Yes, he was not able to deliver speeches during the election campain, but he sang instead some times.

Anonymous said...

the song is 'pinneyumetho rakili padi pranayathin ghazal ragam'from the album Akale by M J

Anonymous said...

I am very happy to find an MBS fan.He was one of the greatest music directors,who did not get the credit that he deserved.I have tried to speak to many music lovers about him.Everybody agrees that he is great,but nobody wants to start an activity to highlight his contributions.Recently I talked to P.Jayachandran who sang 'ragam sreeragam' about this.He also seems to agree to my viewpoint.Let us see if we can do something about it.
Some of his works
chirikkumbol koode chirikkan-janaki
aathirakkulirulla rathriyil-janaki
velichame nayichaalum-janaki
mounangal paadukayaayirunnu-prayaanam
etc etc

Unknown said...

I am another MBS fan. I just adire his songs. He was an integral part of the middle of the road films in the eighties. What about sharing his songs. I do have a good collection of songs.


Unknown said...

I am another MBS fan. I just adire his songs. He was an integral part of the middle of the road films in the eighties. What about sharing his songs. I do have a good collection of songs.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting a very good article on MBS. I have listened to some of tamil songs and wondered why he had too little too far. Happy to know that he has composed a lot in Malayalam. One piece of information to the other readers.
Ilayaraja has worked for MBS in some of films. I am sure that he worked for him Madhan maaligai.


Did MBS have any working relationship with Salil Choudry. He is also a communist with very similar style. I remeber even one film in which MBS scored the music and Salil scored the background

Maddy said...

yes, MBS has done only a few songs in Tamil. Ilayaraja and ARR have been instrumentalists to earlier MD's so I am not surprised that they have learnt under the wings of masters!!
I do not think MBS and Salilda had any relationship, both were very much into choirs as well, but I searched and found no mention of them together..Let me check some more...the big difference was that even though MBS did an odd English song, Salilda really experimented with Western music, fusing it to Indian melody.

Anthakamen said...

It's nice to see someone writing about my favorite music director. He was really great. Some of his best works are already mentioned in your post. But I would like to point out all the songs from Valarthu Mrigangal and the song Usha Uthup sang for Shivathandavam 'Peethambara O Krishana'. Most of the people does not know that the male voice in that song is Kamal Hasan and the guitar was none other than Ilayaraja

Maddy said...

thanks anthakamen...i have been trying hard to locate the kanyakumari songs, no luck so far...i have found a lot of other rare songs recently though...
so Ilayaraja learnt the ropes under MBS? I had heard of that but not the details!!

Anonymous said...

and not to forget 'nirangal than nritham ozhinjoree mannil' ...haunting melody... my alltime fav song...

Anonymous said...

Those of us who spent our early adulthood in the eighties had all our fantasies background-scored by MBS. There was something very soulful about his music, everyone of them left an imprint very deep inside. Even the songs in Valarthu Mrigangal, words provided by the 'inexperienced' lyricist MT Vasudevan Nair, have songs that I consider classic (namely - Subharathri.., Karmathin Pathakal veedhikal.. etc.) - how much I used to yearn for MBS songs to come in the radio! The way he provided background music for films like Venal, left a haunting feeling even long after watching the movie.

While searching for a decent LKG school for my daughter that taught Malayalam (in the capital of Kerala!), I found Lenin Balavadi in Vazhuthacaud that has a thriving MBS choir. But the void MBS left in film music is still untouched - for his music was a special unique kind - one well supported by traditional ragas (eg- Ettumaanoorambalathil- anandabhairavi) but with the trademark stamp of MBS, that (especially) Yesudas and Janaki rendered so beautifully. Another reason could be that his songs appeared in excellent movies - I wonder if Malayalam can ever produce a movie of the calibre of Yavanika etc. produced in the eighties, the golden age of malayalam cinema.

It was a shock for me to learn of MBS's demise in 1988. But his tunes continue to play within me to this day.

Thank you very much for this page and the details about his family that I didn't know.

Sumi said...

Hello, I was delighted to find this site ..I particularly love this song 'Viswamahaa kshethra sannidhiyil'..from Idavazhiyile pooccha mindaappooccha..The music and the lyrics both are very good..I have been yearning to hear this song for a long time...Any ideas where I can get it?...Thanks, Sumi

Maddy said...

send me an email with your mail id, i will send it to you.
thanks for visiting...

Anonymous said...

This March 2008, it'll be 20 years that he's passed away!! Not sure how many even in film world remembers him (except a handful like late G. Devarajan, O.N.V, Yesudas etc). Is any function being organised to mark this occasion.

Another MBS fan,
Vikas - Hyderabad

Divya said...

Hey I'm every happy to see so many actually remember this brilliant person. Infact, the Madras Youth Choir still exists and I'm a part of it. We get together every Sunday and sing. Though we don't get to perform often, we still meet and it's a great experience to see my parents and their friends who've been in the choir ever since it's inception, talking about 'the old times'!

Maddy said...

thanks Divya and Vikas...it would be lovely to be part of that choir..which produced so many great singers!!

Anonymous said...

hi sir...

nice info abt MBS mash... thanx...

i need some clarification....

sukhamo devi and jaalakom..is these are MBSs music...?

i think music director for sukhamo devi is Raveendran mash and for jaalakom .. its MG Radhakrishnan...

pls clarify... :)

Maddy said...

hi kannan...

thanks for visiting!!

you are right - that was a mistake. sukhamo devi & jalakom are not by MBS. sorry for the error!

s said...

thank u sir...

for the quick response....


Anonymous said...

Sukhamo Devi and Jalakam had MBS for BGM. Songs were by Raveendran and MGR...

Anonymous said...

Divya or anyone,
Will it be possible to share some of the Madras Youth Choir songs since it's nearly impossible to get them over other available media like TV, radio etc.
I have a faint memory of seeing him perform his choral songs for "Kala" in Calicut. Though I was in school at that time, even now, I have a faint memory of one or two songs.
Again, would be great if someone can share them.


PN said...

Hi all, Great to go through the posts. I always thought that great MBS was less remembered today, but to see atleast these many ardant fans..i feel contended. I have no words to explain my fondness for MBS songs. The very thought of his songs gives me goose pimples...

Please let me know how and from where i can get all his collections.


Anonymous said...

Please see:

A good collection of his film songs..


Anonymous said...

Hi Good to see lots of MBS fans. There is a good article about MBS written by Ravimenon in mathrubhoomi weekly ( 01/06/2008 ). I am also looking for good quality recording of MBS works

Anonymous said...

hello sir,

i am kannan. We have a community for MBS at orkut(a social networking website). We, the members are planning to host a website for MBS. The discussions are going on the community.

can u pls check the link

We would like to collect all information regarding MBS. Can u pls join and help us? Expecting your help/suggestions for this venture... :-)


Anonymous said...

I am also an MBS fan . I remember one day when i got his 'nirangal than nirtham', i heard it more than 10 times at a stretch. Right away i started an orkut community about him also. Another great musician, Ravindran Master had considered MBS as his Guru. And he used to say about him in most of the interviews. I think MBS is the first musician who utilized the ability of Yesudas to sing beautifully in low pitch. Later Ravindhran Master also followed his path.

Maddy said...

thanks sandeep - we share your emotions!!
kannan - i will pass by orkut one of these days
ajay - i just purchased two books by ravimenon - wonderful books on music..

Anonymous said...

Can anyone please tell me where I can listen to the song from Shivathandavam sung by Kamal and Usha Uthup'' peethambara o krishna''?. When I told some of my tamilian friends about this english song sung by Kamal for a mallu movie, they didnt believe it.
I had requested some of the prolific contributors in youtube but the lack of response indicates that they too probably havent heard it!
Where can I listen to it online?
BTW, I really enjoy your blogs.

Maddy said...

thanks alex,
send me your mail ID.
i have it

Anonymous said...

hi all,
it's nice to see a lot of MBS fans at one place.he was a great music director and an ntellectual as well.Among his songs there are some which haunts me and i must say that these songs always follow me.
1. shubharathri from valarthumrugangal... it's interesting to note that it was M.T. Vasudevan Nair who wrote this song

2. Vivahanalil poovanippanthal .. Yousafali Kecheri

3. Raagam sreeragam udayasrreeragam ... the best ever Raagamalika in malayalam film songs

Maddy said...

thanks anonymouns - all beatiful songs especially the second one - was it from idavazhyile poocha ?

Anonymous said...

Alex, please mail me at
svikas2005 at gmail.com
Will send "Peethambara.." song.

Sandeep, can you give your email address?

Anonymous said...

Wow thats a huge collection at the end. Quite impressive. I am yet to hear many of these songs

And Yesudas, for a function paying homage to Shanta P Nair, recounted this incident - of the 1961 movie where Shanta P Nair, on hearing that she was to sing with a newcomer said "Aa kutti paadikotte, athinentha (Why not, let the kid sing?)"

Preethi said...

Dear All,
Eventhough I'm introduced only to MBS's Choir songs (I have hardly heard any of his Film songs), I was very much moved by his compositions. His Choir songs are really mind blowing & words can't describe the same. One needs to experience it. Some of us would have heard his 'Odi Vilayadu Pappa', 'Paadum Paravaigale', 'Santhippom Ilaijhargale' etc. But there are much... much... more we haven't really listened to! I'm also a part of Madras Youth Choir (same as Divya). We are very happy to inform that our Choir is planning to release a CD with some of the Chori songs of MBS during Sep. 2009. I hope & pray we succeed in the same.

Maddy said...

Thanks Preethi..

wish you the very best

vikas s said...


On the occasion of 84th birth anniversary of Shri MB Sreenivasan on 19-Sep-2009,
the Orkut Community on MBS is pleased to launch a website on him.
Please see http://www.mbsreenivasan.com

Following are main features:

A brief biography on him

Film Music:
1) Song list
2) BGM film list

Choir Music:
1) Article on Madras Youth Choir (MYC)
2) Article on MBS Youth Choir (MBSYC)

1) Interviews that we took (mostly telephonic) over last one year
(ONV, KS Sethumadhavan etc.)
2) Articles that were written for us/that came recently (MT, Ravi Menon etc.)
3) Souvenir on MBS that was published by Madras Youth Choir in 1989
(ONV, P Bhaskaran,
Adoor etc.) This has some articles by MBS as well.
4) MBS Youth Choir 20th anniversary speeches (ONV, Adoor, Yesudas)

Awards and positions held

1) MBS snaps
2) MBSYC archive
3) MBSYC 20th anniversary snaps

1) Links to notable film songs
2) Links to notable BGM pieces

Please go through the site and know more about him. MBS as seen by
writers, directors, musicians, singers who worked closely with him.

Please forward this mail to your friends and music related mailing lists.

On behalf of Orkut Community on MBS

Unknown said...

Madras Youth Choir has recently released two CDs of their songs, composed by MBS. MYC meets every Sunday afternoon for their practice. Anybody is welcome to listen to them when in Chennai.