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Naarayanan Swaminathan
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126 followers
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In celebration of Usha Utup’s 70th Birthday:
Come along, hand in hand, sing along with me….
Passing through the foyer of a shopping mall here some years back, I came across a group of small children listening in rapt attention to a story being narrated. And as I passed the crowd, I stopped suddenly, for it was a very familiar voice that was keeping the kids engrossed. And sure enough the raconteur was a woman in a bright Kanjeevaram sari, with her trademark pottu and flowers in place. I became aware then that besides the wide-eyed kids, there were many adults too who seemed drawn by Usha Utup’s spell. Needless to say, I too found myself inexorably inching into the circle, and soon I was lost happily in the world of the cobbler Kalia. I sighed at his poverty, empathized with his prayer for a genie who would make him rich, was wonderstruck at Bootram’s sudden materialization, and filled with a vague foreboding at his seemingly innocent rider…. And at the end of the narration as I clapped unabashedly along with the thrilled kids and the equally pleased adults, I was struck at the instant rapport that Usha managed to strike with her audience….Children and adults from vastly diverse cultures and nationalities all seemed transfixed by her scintillating narration of the popular Karadi tales.

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In his ‘என் ஜன்னலின் வழியே’, Vairamuthu refers to such songs as ' உறங்கி கிடக்கும் மொட்டுக்கள்’. I am not too sure if that’s a fitting description, for though the films these songs were composed for were nonstarters, the songs did come alive and they still live vividly in our memories, thanks to Radio Ceylon. Good old தமிழ்ச்சேவை இரண்டு was never unduly perturbed about the film itself. Thumping successes, dismal failures, straight Tamil movies, dubbed debacles, released and running new films, soon to be released hopefuls, unreleased losers… all candidates were on equal footing on Radio Ceylon’s scales and were given an impartial hearing. And as long as a song was found meriting airtime, Radio Ceylon went all out to celebrate and propagate it.

And the worthy station went an extra mile by coming with a programme called 'மலர்ந்தும் மலராதவை', an exclusive 15 minutes a day devoted to lovingly adopt, nurture and pamper orphaned gems from films languishing in the cans, never to light up the silver screen, never to revel in the excitement of the marquee.

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