The Music of Panneer Pushpangal – 1981

September 24, 2015, Chennai

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The Music of Panneer Pushpangal – 1981The song ananda ragam from panneer pushpangal is anyone’s favorite.

The year was 1981. I was in bed at home, lying down on the floor at about 9:30 at night, back in India, tuned to vividh bharati all lights off, waiting for the commercial broadcast to start. Then it came, Panneer Pushpangal.

This was a name that I had not heard of. What did the name mean? Roses? What kind of songs would it have? Shankar Ganesh? MSV? Hopefully it should be Illaiyaraja. Thoughts raced through my head. Then the songs came.

Then came the song ‘poontalir aada’. It sounded good; OK. But for a first listening it was nothing spectacular. Not like nizhalgal or andimazhai.
Then came the song ‘ananda ragam’.

A brisk waltz, and the bright voice of Uma ramanan rang through the night from the little 2x5x1 transistor radio, as loud as it could (without waking up my parents in the nearby room).

I woke up my brothers, ‘Wake up, this song seems to be a classic’

And so it was.

‘keezh vaanile’ — as the song came down from the upper sa into the pa and thedha.

Then ‘aayiram’ and a cute staccato flute reply. Then ‘aasaigal’ and the flute echo again.


It seemed to be in the scale of the raga simhendra madhyamam.

How could simhendra madhyamam sound so  cool? As a child, I had never liked the raga.

The progress of the song was rudely cut off by the host L.R. Narayanan.

Then came other songs, ‘vengaya sambaarum’ and ‘kodai kaala katre’.

Then came the 2nd interlude of  Ananda ragam.

What a waltz!

A simple spread ‘d p, g s,’ ‘d p, g s’

then down the scale, ‘dp,gr,sn,dp”

Then came all the magic, while in the scale, giving the illusion of another; then back to the original context and the  arrival of the percussion on the downbeat and then back to Uma Ramanan.

 All with a flute, a keyboard part and a string section.

The return of the interlude into the clutches of the charanam (vanna vanna) is brilliant.
Again, a rude signoff from L. R. Narayanan.

An unforgettable first listening.
PS: Illaiyaraaja came up with ‘pala janma janmandara’ in ‘taai mookambiaki’ in the same scale; but ananda ragam still remains unmatched. The other two songs inpanneer pushpangal kodai kaala and poontalir aada are also all time greats; however ananda ragam takes the cake.

And Uma Ramanan had the same agility in her voice, when I recorded her seventeen years later in 1998. More on that in another post.

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Kanniks Kannikeswaran