(Written by our new guest contributor Pradip Somasundaran. Pradip is the winner of the Lata Mangeshkar award on Meri Awaz Suno for the best Male singer. He now sings for movies and albums and was closely associated with the music director Ravindran.
It has been a year since Ravindran left us and on this occasion, Pradip recollects his memories of our favourite music director. This is a two part article, the second part of which will be published tomorrow).
I was literally shocked when I first heard the news of his demise which was in the form of an SMS from one of my close friends. I instantly tuned on to one of the news channels which confirmed my fears. Ravindran or â€œRavi Etanâ€ as I used to call him had left this world to another world of his own which would perhaps be filled with more intricate and heavenly music which he had endearingly wound over all of us for more than 30 odd years.
My mind wandered immediately to the first occasion when I had met him in 1991. Mala Aravindan had taken me to meet him in Madras. I still remember that day at Brown Stone Apartments. He was in one of his composing sessions for Chambakkulam Thachan. Since he had a gigantic figure, I somehow had an impression that he who had composed songs like Pramadavanam would be as difficult to please as his music.
When he asked me to sing, I sang Raga Kalyani and was trembling like a quill. Sensing my discomfiture, he asked me to stop and relax and then tried to take the fear out of me.He made me feel at ease and then asked me to sing again. Then he asked me to sing some songs, record it on a cassette and give it to him when next visited Kerala. He did not utter a word about my singing and asked me to wait outside the room
Tense moments followed. He was locked in conversation with Mr. Aravindan. After a while Mr. Aravindan came out and then as we went back to Woodlands Hotel where we were staying. He told me, â€œRavindran was impressed with you. He told me that you hold a good futureâ€. My happiness knew no bounds. I had been able to impress none other than Ravindran, whose songs, singers other than the great Yesudas himself were afraid to sing.
After coming back to Kerala I immediately did as was told. The cassette reached Ravindran through Mr. Aravindan and then I was told over phone â€œPradip I will call you as soon as an opportunity arisesâ€. I was working as a lecturer in Coimbatore that time and I badly wanted to sing in films and be there in Madras in the thick of things. I also wanted to see all the big personalities like Yesudas and S.P Balasubramaniyam.
My efforts bore fruit when I finally managed to get a job in Madras. I stayed in Thiruvanmiyur initially. After constant phone calls, one day he finally said, â€œPradip come to AVM-G Recording Theatre, at 9.30 A.M on Tuesday. Please bear in mind that you will be singing track for a song which would be eventually sung by Yesudas & Chitraâ€. The song was Samayam Manoharam for the film Ezhuthachan.
After Sangeetha and I, another aspiring singer sang the duet in a single take, all the instrument players came to congratulate us. I could not believe my eyes. Here was I, singing for the first time in my life for a film in one of the biggest studios in Madras. Ravindran came out of the recording console room and then announced, â€œBoth of you sang well. We now want you both to sing the song again and correct the voice track little by littleâ€. This time my confidence got a boost and I did better.
After the recording he came out with the producer and announced â€We are going to keep your voices. Now this song will come out with your voices.â€ We were thrilled. Soon he called the Nana Film Magazine office and a photographer was arranged and the news was covered. We became playback singers from that moment.
Ravindran asked me to shift my stay to a place near the Recording Studios at Saligramam. He told, â€œPradip, only Yesudas can afford to be at a far away place from the studios as people would wait even for months for taking his voice. You cannot afford to be so farâ€. Thiruvanmiyur was the place where Yesudas also used to stay those days. It was one of the places in Madras where fresh water was available in plenty and was away from the busy city.
Ravindran helped me find a rented house just opposite to his house where I stayed till I was at Madras. I got to know him more. Many a times he would correct me when I was doing sadhakam and give valuable advice. He was very fond of pets and had a big Alsatian dog which he loved very much.