Voice with a special appeal: Malaysia Vasudevan

September 24, 2015, Chennai

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The unexpected demise of a person brings a moment of sadness. Especially if the person’s voice was a part of your youth.

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I am listening to ‘nee illaadapodhuyengumnenjamsolladakadainooru’ from the film illamaikkolam of 1980 while trying to absorb the news of Malaysia Vasudevan’s passing.

Check Out : Best of Malaysia Vasudevan

Malaysia Vasudevan’s voice had a special appeal. Whether it was the peppy ‘aattukkuttimuttaiyittu’ in padinaaruvayadinile or the optimistic‘tangarathathil’ or the serene ‘aagaayagangai’ of the 1970s or the funny ‘yen sogakathaiyaikeluthaikkulame’ or the mesmerizing ‘kodaikalakatre’ of the 1980s there was something that his voice delivered.

His poduvaaga yen manasuthangamand  kattaivandi pretty much set the benchmark for the bouncy dabbankuttugenre  of the Illaiyaraja era. The late seventies and the early eighties saw hit after hit in MalaysiyaVasudevan’s voice in various genres under Illaiyaraja’s baton.

There were always the trademark Bharatiraja banner MalaysivaVasudevan duets such as Koilmaniosai, vaanmegangale, minminikkukannilvanda in the seventies and vettiveruvaasam in the 80s. Malargalenadasvarangal of the 1970s  (mostly) in the scale of hamsadhwaniwith S. Janakiis so fresh even today.

MV stood as a pillar in a world that had other strong male voices such as TMS, PBS (then phased out), SPB, Yesudoss and Jayachandran. He was sure to deliver a hit even in the next era (the first few years of AR Rahman).

So many of his songs bring back memories. Mappillaikkumaamanmanasu of netrikkann or the little known song ‘ennasugamaanaulagam’ from garjanai were custom made for Rajini in 1981. He was not necessarily reserved for kuthu songs. His voice rose to all occasions, even to fill the role of a middle aged paadiriyaar in VellaiRoja, not to speak of the situation song ‘naagoorupakkathilanammalodapettai’ in the same movie.

Until today I never knew that Vasudevan’s mother tongue was Malayalam. I don’t remember hearing anything in his singing that even remotely suggested that he was not a native Tamil speaker.

In today’s world of borderless music wherefidelity to the language is no longer a pre-requisite for singing,  I silently remember the  clarity of diction and the liveliness of spirit that Malaysia Vasudevan brought to the songs of the 70s and the 80s and gratefully acknowledge the cheer that he brought to aficionados of film music.

About the author

Kanniks Kannikeswaran