Exactly 101 years ago was born this musical legend K V Mahadevan, who later set a new trend in Tamil film music. Affectionately called ‘Mama’ by his contemporaries for his amiable ways, KVM scored music for over 600 films, spanning four decades, after starting his career in the late fifties with Avan Amaran.
As a frontline music director working in four South Indian languages – Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada – KVM’s tunes, including those composed for several films featuring MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, are still popular with the people.
Says ardent music-lover Baskar Sivaji, “KVM was a recipient of two national awards. He evolved a style of film music which appealed to both the masses and classes. His melodious compositions in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films are an enduring legacy of Indian film music.”
“Known for mythological films such as Sampoorna Ramayanam and Thiruvilayadal, KVM is a path-breaker in blending classical music with film music and was a ‘guru’ to many music directors.”
“In the early 1960s, the Tamil film music industry was flourishing thanks to KVM and M S Viswanathan and T K Ramamurthy ruling the roost. They came up with gems that drew people to theatres mainly for their songs,” he adds.
KVM’s association with filmmaker A P Nagarajan meant a musical hit in every film of theirs. They worked together in over 25 films.
If Thiruvilayadal, Saraswathi Sabatham, Tirumal Perumai and Thiruvarutselvar were spiritually high, Thillana Mohanambal was his classical best, says Baskar.
“He worked with Sivaji Ganesan for 30 years starting with Koondukili in 1954 till Simha Soppanam (1984). His exemplary work for Sivaji includes Vasantha Maaligai, Iruvar Ullam, Engal Thanga Raja, Uthaman,’ he says, and adds, “Thillana Mohanambal was special for all songs in the movie was female voice. But the nadaswaram sounded masculine and was gigantic. And he was one composer who insisted on tunes for lyrics.”
“Vasantha Maaligai was the musical best for Sivaji Ganesan. Mayakam Enna, Oru Kinnaythai, Irandu Manam Vendum, Yaarukkaga, are still sung in stage shows,” he points out.
Murali, a die-hard MGR fan, says, “MGR and KVM always shared excellent rapport. He came with mass numbers and an equally good mix of soft romantic songs for Makkal Thilagam. Movies like Dharmam Thalaikakkum, Mattukara Velan, Vettaikkaran, Arasakattalai, Netru Indru Naalai were musical hits. From 1952, Mahadevan scored the music for more than 35 MGR films including his ambitious Adimai Penn (1969), which introduced S P Balasubrahmanyam with Aayiram Nilave Vaa. The trio of MGR, KVM and producer Thevar was considered a safe bet in the industry.”
Ask senior citizen Subha, who grew up watching movie since 1960s and ‘70s, KVM’s best was Idhaya Kamalam. The songs Unnai Kaanaadha, Thol Kandaen and Nee Pogum Idamellam are soul-stirring, she says.
And if KVM was synonymous with music, his alter ego T K Pugazhendi’s contribution to his success cannot be written off. For all his tall achievements, KVM received very little recognition. He may have left the world, but his works still remain immortal, she adds.
It was 1967 and KVM won his first national award for Kandan Karunai. The movie had 15 songs. Songs like Manam Padaithen, Arumugamana Porul, Solla Solla, Thirupparankundrathil and Vellimalai Mannava are still popular. The year 1980 saw KVM winning his second national award. He was bestowed with the honour for his work in Telugu classic Sankarabharanam. Directed by K Vishwanath, the songs, including Dorakuna, Sankaraa Naadasareeraparaa and Omkaara Naadaanusandhanam are considered classics even today.