"We called other music directors as Master but Dakshinamuthy was always a Swami for us. He knew what we all wanted and gave it us. He has given us so many boons in music. That is why it is apt to call him Swami" Thus spoke Gangai Amaran in a Malayalam singing competition program in which he was a chief guest. He continued,"Everyone in our family: my kids, Yuvan, Bhavadharini, everyone, were sent to him to learn music. Even if they didn't learn music well, we were happy if he tapped them a few times on their head." When Illayaraja released his magnum opus, 'Tiruvasagam' he insisted that Dakshinamurthy be the chief guest. Illayaraja in his biography writes that even after he became a music director, he went and played guitar for Dakshinamurthy Swami's recording as a sessions musician, which surprised a lot of people. Such was the respect of Illayaraja's family for music director, V.Dakshinamurthy, known popularly in music circles as Dakshinamurthy Swami, who passed away recently.
I vaguely remember that the first time I heard about Dakshinamurthy Swami was as the music director of the movie, 'Oru Oodapu Kann Simittugiradhu'. The poetic title was what caught my eye and it has the famous 'nalla manam vaazhga', which I came to know was tuned by a music director called Dakshinamurthy. The name was new to me. I did not hear much about him till I heard the music of 'Ganam' in my post graduate days. That was the time when I realised that this was music director who knew the classical aspect of music very well.
My knowledge of Malayalam film music is very limited and I have never followed Dakshinamurthy Swami's discography closely to know how he changed with the times. So what I am going to write is based on very limited listening. Those who have heard his music more are requested to comment and provide their perspective about his music.
I have always felt that Dakshinamurthy Swami had a fascination for ragamalikas. I have already spoken about a couple of them in my earlier posts. Today I will write about another ragamalika which has fascinated me. Kiran TV used to telecast some old Malayalam songs around midnight time and this song was regularly telecast. I never got tired of watching this song. What a fantastic start the song has in Sahana, followed by an absolutely superb Shanmukhapriya and ending in an enticing Kalyani. Swami forms a superb garland with these ragams. Listen to this first and I will then give you an even interesting version.
Later I found an amazing version of this song. Personally this is one of the most interesting video I have seen of any Indian song. It has three singers and two music directors singing on stage. The ragas used here are different. A demure Leela opens the song. Then arrives a young P.B.Sreenivas, standing at ease and singing in a relaxed mood. He does a brief alapana before singing his lines. Following the younger P.B.Sreenivas is an even younger Jesudas, with that brilliant voice of his.Next in line is the music director M B Sreenivasan, whose voice provides a nice contrast to the silken smooth voice of Jesudas. Finally the master arrives. Striking a confident pose, he sings with the assurance of a person who knows his subject, he casually evokes the beauty of Sree Ragam
From an outsider perspective, Dakshinamurthy was the quintessential Malayalam film music director. He used the carnatic ragas very well and there was a touch of melancholy in his songs. Similar approach was followed by other music directors from Kerala like Radhakrishnan, Arjunan and others. Dakshinamurthy Swami dealt with some strong carnatic ragas like Begada in his own unique way, fitting them into the film song format very well. (I had written long back about the 'Innale' song which was tuned in Begada by Dakshinamurthy Swami.)
Here is a very famous Malayalam song based on Abheri. As you can see, Dakshinamurthy's approach to Abheri is quite different from the conventional ones we have heard, like 'sringara velane deva'.
Or check out this Chakravagam based number. Here too you can see his approach to the raga is quite different. There is a different color given to the raga and it makes for a lovely film song.
Let me close with that one song which has made him immortal in Tamil. S P B has sung lot of good songs before this song and lot more later. Yet, for many this song will always be present in their 'Best of SPB' list. Dakshinamurthy gives a Madhuvanti which has not been bettered till now. The outstanding 'nanda nee en nila':
May this great man's soul rest in peace.