About P. Susheela
P. Susheela. The very name would evoke memories of many a number rendered
in her rich, reverberating and resonant voice to the fans of South Indian
be it Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada or even Sinhalese. With her mellifluous
voice she has breathed life into thousands of lyrics, bringing out the
right emotion lying under each word and making the song waft straight
A point to be noted here is the care with which she pronounced
the words, though she sang in different languages. That is something we
are not able to see in
most of our present day singers. Words are the victims of rather
constricted rhythms and contorted beats, compacted and deformed between
and the teeth. But it was Susheela's school to render them
with effortless ease,
as they are pronounced by the people speaking each individual
language in which the lyrics are written.
Susheela started way back in 1952. She was the recipient of
the national award for best singer in the years 1969, 1971, 1977, 1982 and
At the state level, both Tamil Nadu and Kerala have honoured
her with several awards. The Tamil Nadu Government recognised her genius in
years 1968, 1980, 1981, 1989 and 1991 with various titles, prizes
Born in 1935 in Vijayanagaram in a music-loving family, Susheela had
an innate talent in music. The seniors in the family arranged for her
training in Carnatic music at a very young age. With a properly nurtured
talent, she used to participate any competition in music held in her
school or in Vijayanagaram and had always come home with the first prize
in each competition. She then went to the Music College in Vijayanagaram
and passed her diploma in first class. Her natural taste for music and
her voice of gold were finely honed by the training she received and
Susheela soon absorbed the finest nuances of giving expression to the
verses she rendered.
It was in 1950 that music director Nageswara Rao was looking for new
talent and approached the All India Radio with a request to refer to
him the good singers who used to participate in their programmes. And
the radio station sent five persons to him. Susheela was selected after
necessary audition tests.
'Petra Thaai' was being made in 1952 in Tamil (Kanna
Thalli in Telugu) with A. Nageswararao and G. Varalakshmi in lead roles.
her first song - a duet with A. M. Raja - 'Edhukku azhaithaai'
for the movie.
She was then an employee of the AVM Studios, receiving
a fixed amount as her monthly salary, for several years after her introduction
Thaai. Meyyappa Chettiar, the demanding perfectionist that he
was, appointed a Tamil teacher for Susheela to train her in
proper pronunciation of
words. (Hmmmm… keep praying for the arrival of another
Meyyappa Chettiar to save our ears from jarring crudities of
that the present generation of singers subject them to.)
The songs that she sung in 'Kanavane kan kanda dheiyvam' (1955) brought
her the popularity that she so well deserved. Especially songs like
'Endhan ullam thulli vilyaaduvadhum,' 'unnaik kan thedudhe' brought
out her talent for rendition. Then came 'Missiyamma' in the same year.
Susheela became very popular with 'Brindha vanamum Nandha kumaranum'
and 'ariyaa paruvamada' set to Karaharapriya. Her name soon spread and
was respected among the elite and the masses.
It was a time when several other women had established their talents
already and were reigning supreme - like P. Leela who started her career
in 1948; Jikki who allured the audience with her lilting voice; the
Carnatic music genius M. L. Vasanthakumari; P. A. Periyanaayagi, actress
and singer; Jamuna Rani, A. P. Komala; R. Balasaraswati, Sulamangalam
Rajalakshmi and Jayalakshmi, K. Rani, A. Rathnamala, S. J. Kantha among
others. Each had a unique and distinct character and quality and had
a large number of admirers.
Susheela made her entry when so many singers were displaying
their talents and were very popular. But her entry in 1952 outshone others
pushed all of them to the background. Right from 1955 there
was not a single movie - for a very very long time - that did not have
in her voice. Her career was at its best in the 60s and the
early 70s. Whoever be the music director, whoever be the lyricist, whoever
co-singer, the song became popular with her finesse. Her popularity
among the masses was just unprecedented in the annals of Tamil
After her splendid performance in Kalyana Parisu, melody
itself assumed a new dimension and soon a trend was set in motion that
emphasis on songs on par with story, scenes and sequence.
Susheela's contribution to this trend was considerable. She has given
of golden melodies under the direction of stalwarts Viswanathan
- Ramamurthy. That her name is well known and is remembered with feelings
of joy for
more than 50 years now goes to her credit. She continues to
rule supreme in the hearts of her fans through the thousands of numbers
she has rendered
in a very long and enviable career.
Source : chennaionline (some