There was a time in the 1970s to 80s when Ilayaraja was the only music director, S.P. Balasubramaniam, the only male playback and S. Janaki, the only female playback in Tamil Cinema. A young man, then in his thirties, was grabbing at opportunities to showcase his villainy acting skills and secretly nursing hopes of making it big as a singer. He used to imitate the legendary T.M. Soundarrajan and present Sivaji Ganesan’s songs for his troupe time and again. Then Pathinaru Vayathinile happened and a new singing sensation was born…a Malaysian born malayali who went on to carve a separate base for himself in the Tamil film music fraternity.
Aatukutti Mutta ittu from Pathinaru Vayathinile introduced ‘
’ Vasudevan as a singer to Tamil Cinema. The song went on to become a rage, not only for its foolishly funny lyrics, but also for the fresh baritone it introduced to Tamilians. Since that rousing start, ‘Vasu’, as he was fondly called in the music circle, had no looking back. With his majestic voice he enthralled cine-music followers and went on to make Superstar Rajnikanth’s singing voice his own. Malaysia
He has churned out more than 3500 songs in Tamil Cinema and in this post I am looking back at some of my indelible favourites
Vaa Vaa Vasanthame (Film: Pudhu Kavithai): At a time when Vasu was sidelined as a folk singer and flooded with fast numbers, this beautiful melody came as a breath of fresh air and showcased the nuances that he possessed in his voice to deliver soothing melodies as well. The comforting image of Rajnikanth singing to a little girl is still fresh in my mind when I listen to this song
Aasai Nooru vagai (Film: Adutha Vaarisu): A trendsetting fast number with extensive use of guitar and the brilliantly masculine voice of ‘
’ Vasudevan was a toast to Ilayaraja and Superstar fans alike. Vasu’s subtle variations during rendition are evident in this number, as well as the perfect modulation he brings to portray the playboy-like attribute of Superstar in this song. Malaysia
Vethalaya Potendi (Film: Billa): If ever there was an advertisement to the betel leaf (Vethalai) then it has to be this song. The juicy savouriness of the Beeda and the irrepressible joy that a man, deprived of his beloved Beeda for a very long time, experiences when he finally gets a chance to fill his mouth with it is superbly brought out by Vasu in this number. Vasu also proved that he is adept at mastering any lingo (He would have sung this song in the madras Tamil lingo) and delivering a song in it quite effortlessly.
Ennamma Kannu (Film: Mr. Bharath): With this song Vasu put his singing prowess in line against the already famous S.P.B and matched the legend word for word. The bitter Rivalry between the screen stars Sathyaraj and Rajnikanth was brought alive even when one heard this song without seeing the visuals. It was only fair to say that Vasu passed this peer test with flying colours.
Kadhal Vandhuduchu (Film: Kalyanaraman): This has to be the most singular song ever sung by Vasu. The modulation he brings out to literally render the whole song through his nose rather than throat is simply amazing. Kamal haasan’s avatar as Kalyanaraman would not have been complete had it not been for this awe-inspiring rendition by Vasu.
Poove Ilaya Poove (Film: Kozhi Koovudhu): Another of ‘
’ Vasudevan’s unsung beauties. The calmness of his voice, the consummate ease with which it climbs up and down the scales in this song and the tranquility it brings to the listener makes this number almost my favourite ‘Malaysia’ Vasudevan Song…Almost. Malaysia
Podhuvaaga En Manasu (Fim: Murattu Kaalai): There might be Vandhenda Paalkaaran from Annamalai; there might be Naa Autokkaaran from Baasha; there might even be Oruvan Oruvan from Muthu. But when it comes to the ultimate Thalaivar Intro Song, it has to be this one. With this song, Vasu made Thalaivar’s singing voice his own. The streak of brazen villainy that thalaivar used to portray even when he transformed into a mass hero during those days demanded a voice which can bring out the same sort of villainy. And who better than Vasu to bring about those nuances? The spell binding rendition with that touch of nonchalant arrogance was something only Vasu could have delivered. And he did so to the delirium of Crazy Thalaivar fans like me.
February 20th, 2011 will go down in the annals of Tamil Music industry as a day when nature decided to silence one of the most influential voices of Tamil Cinema. ‘
’ Vasudevan was not given any sort of recognition he deserved during the years he lived. It is indeed sad to note that even after he has passed on, recognition has been hard to come by. Malaysia
This post is my form of saying ‘Thank You’ to Thalaivar’s Eternal Singing Voice – You might have left us, but your voice will live on in our memories and keep ringing in our ears.
Rest in Peace