(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 the second part of the article. Part 1 was published yesterday).
Afterwards I lent my voice for Yesudas himself in many films like Kalippattam, Bheeshmacharya, Manichitrathazhu and in the process sang tracks under Johnson, M.G Radhakrishnan, S.P Venkatesh other than Ravindran. It was Ravindran who himself asked me to call him â€œRavi Ettanâ€. â€œ He told, â€œPradip all call me Ravindran Mashu. But in Kerala even bus commuters are called Mashu by the conductors. You can call me Ravi Ettanâ€
In 1993 end, when I got a golden opportunity to visit Japan and many other parts of the world on a two and a half months long Govt. sponsored trip, Ravindran was the first to encourage me to go even though that meant risking my job. I finally lost my job after the trip, (which I never liked anyway) and then was somewhat in musical obviation in Puthuppally (Kottayam) till 1996. In between Ravindran would call me for doing live shows with himself in Kerala.
Then â€œMeri Awaz Sunoâ€ happened in 1996-97 and again Ravindran was the first music Director to offer me the song Perumathudi Kotti in Mannadiyar Penninu Chengotta Chekkan. Thus again it was through Ravindran that I sang my first song in a released film. There after I sang Punyam Pularnu in Kalyanappittennu and many other songs for him in unreleased films.
Even though many singers would complaint that Ravindran swore by Yesudas, they would agree that, he always had a soft corner for some singers including Biju Narayanan and myself. I consider it as a privilege that he recognized my talent for singing Malayalam songs long before Malayalees discovered that I sang Hindi well.
He tried his best to encourage me even though he might have had his own personal unavoidable reasons to oversee both of us on bigger occasions like singing for a Mohanlal or Mammootty starrer. The last time I sang for him was again a track for the film Mazha He tried hard to keep my voice in the film but lost out finally due to obvious reasons beyond control.
I would never forget an incident which happened at â€œCasino Hotelâ€ Trichur, two years back. It was when he had come to compose two songs for the film â€œChakramâ€. He wanted to see me and when I went he told â€œPradip I have this Harmonium of mine which is without a cover since many months. I want a cover to be stitched for this. I will be back for the recording after some days and meanwhile please try to find a good cover â€œ.
I happily brought the Harmonium home and thus had the good fortune of having the instrument at home for some days, on which many a hit songs like Ezhu Swarangalum, Pramadavanam, and Nirangale Paadu were composed. The cover was stitched and when he returned some days later he was very happy to see it.
His biggest asset was that he had could sing whatever he used to compose and the singer did not have to produce a rabbit out of thin air at any time! He was perhaps the only music director of his era other than Johnson who had a stamp of his own right from Choola to Vadakkumnathan and did not play tune to changing times like others did
Even though he was known to change his opinions about people faster than he would make them, he never for once lost his identity in any of his songs. His songs will continue to be headaches for singers who perform them on stage and no music directors would dare to copy his style of heavy orchestration. The vocal tracks of his songs would stand on its own as tall pillars without any orchestra. You could sing any of his songs just with the backing drone of a Tanpura and still the songs would stand tall.
He went unrecognized for all his powerful, reverberating music. Many a times music lovers wondered why he did not get the state awards and National awards as many times he ought to have, while lesser mortals did. He was bluntly ignored many times. Was it due to his unique character or utter disregard for the awards?
His personal life was not too happy towards the end. When I met him recently at his flat at Cochin, he seemed a defeated man and was not in his self. He was sad that many whom he considered to be close to him had not cared for him. Did he have a premonition of what would befall him? We would never know.