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Biography of P. Susheela



P.Susheela hails from a music family but she was the first to sing in her family. Born in Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh, Susheela is the daughter of Sheshavatataram and Mukund Rao, a leading criminal lawyer of his time. She studied classical music in Maharaja`s Music College, Vizianagaram under the tutelage, of the famous violinist Dwaram Venkatasamy Naidu. With a first class diploma, Susheela went to Madras for higher studies in music in the Music Academy under the principalship of Musiri Subramania Iyer. She started giving classical music performances in public and also through All India Radio, Madras, Vijayawada, and Bangalore and Hyderabad stations. Married to Dr. Mohan Rao, who had kept himself away from the limelight of his wife`s career, but had been very supportive to her. Susheela is grateful to him for providing a congenial domestic harmony and environment so that her music career flourished. She has one son P. Susheela has rendered a song composed by A. R. Rahman for the Tamil movie ``Indian.`` Susheela`s career spanning a period of three to four decades is a very satisfying one to the artiste. Susheela, always fascinated by film music, was thrilled when she was called to record a song for a film, ``Kannatalli`` in Telugu, and in Tamil her first playback was for ``Petra Thai``. `Music is God`s gift to me”, she says. She sung with A.M. Raja under the direction of Pendyala Nageswara Rao. Her melodious voice caught the attention of other music directors and she became a much sought after playback singer. There was no Tamil movie without songs by her. Susheela has sung for all the South Indian language films. Her songs in movies like ``Pava Manippu,`` ``Palum Pazhamum,`` ``Parthal Pasitheerum,`` ``Uthama Puthiran,`` etc. still remain favourites of film music lovers. P.Susheela sings effortlessly and with comprehension. The depth of the lyrics is brought out very well. There is no strain while singing. While recording in film studios, recording theatre or while giving public performances of light music concerts, Susheela is composed, calm, totally devoid of gimmicks or mannerisms. In this she is very much like Lata Mangeshkar who is a picture of composure and dignity. Susheela has sung a lot of songs under the music direction of composers Viswanathan-Ramamurthi, and has rendered the maximum of songs with T. M. Soundararajan. She has worked with music directors Subbiah Naidu, G. Ramanathan, K. V. Mahadevan, Viswanathan-Ramamurthi, Devarajan, Raghavan Master, Babu, and Dakshinamurthi, in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. Since Susheela feels music nowadays is too much noise a playback singer of her calibre may not be able to sing such songs and so these days one rarely hears a Susheela song in a movie but she has not bid adieu to film playback. She is willing to sing for any music director, but it should be a song with meaning and melody.`` Like the song ``Kanaka Mai Azhagu`` in ``Puthiya Mugam.`` The song so melodiously sung comes across as a whiff of fresh air and the picturisation is also good. It fetched a golden disc award to Susheela. She looks on her career with satisfaction Honours and Titles: She is the recipient of the National Award for female playback singer in 1969, 1971, 1977, 1983, 1984 and has also bagged the Tamil Nadu State Award, the Kerala State Government Award and from her home State Andhra Pradesh she has won the Best Playback Artiste Award given by the Madras Film Fans Associations and during the Indo-Pakistan war she entertained the jawans at the war front. The Government of Tamil Nadu has honoured her with the title of ``Kalaimamani`` and again in the year 1991 she won the Tamil Nadu State Government Award as best playback artiste for 1990-91. In August 1992 Susheela was conferred the honourary Doctorate at Washington, U.S. by the North American Alumni Association. Susheela is now turning more and more to devotional music and has recorded quite a few cassettes. People who heard her in the 50`s feel no difference when they heard her it ``Pudia Mugam`` and ``Indian.``
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