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Sulochana K. Subramanyam

By Lakshmi Viswanathan
Roli Books , Family Pride Series, Delhi, 2003, pp. 128, Rs. 495.00


The radiant smile of MS on the cover of this book attracts immediate attention. Lakshmi the talented dancer, proficient in English, music and classical culture, “almost a daughter”, shares lovely memories and pictures with us. Printed and published in Singapore, the Roli Books ‘Family Pride’ series has earlier dealt with Ravi Shankar (by Anoushka) and Amjad Ali (by his sons). MS has always been a quiet, reticent person, and the loving insight and understanding of the depiction here lets us share Lakshmi’s affection and interaction with her. We get personal glimpses of the talented lady—her family, her preference for light food, devotion to veena and music, her acceptance of various constraints both as vocalist and as “Mrs. Sadasivam”.   MS inherited Shanmukhavadivu’s sangita jnana and acquired proficiency through her mother’s training at a very early age. Her good looks and wonderful voice helped her to rise in the world of cinema and music. The meeting with Sadasivam marks a high point in her life. Lakshmi briefly traces her Madurai background, her permanently distancing herself from mother and siblings and their lifestyle, the feeling of “loss”, separation and cultivation of “stoicism” in the process. Letting Sadasivam take complete charge of her life and career is an important decision.   Sadasivam found a rare gem and polished and perfected her talent in national and international settings. Her hard work, ability to adapt to new requirements, his skill in showcasing her art, combined to produce a wonderful singing star. K. Subrahmaniam encouraged her early talent, Sadasivam took her career to great heights. Filming Meera in both Hindi and Tamil introduced her to the whole of India. While her role as Narada in Savitri produced many “hit” songs and the money to start the Kalki magazine, it was MS as “Meera” that marked a high point in her acting career.   Sadasivam encouraged her to further hone her skills, learn from the best teachers, widen her repertoire, improve her accent and pronunciation, and projected her image as “Bhakti” personified. Organizing the minute details of concert presentation, his efficient management helped her achieve several landmarks—Sangeeta Kalanidhi, first carnatic lady singer to perform overseas, to receive awards from Magsaysay to Bharat Ratna, to sing in many Indian languages. The hard-working singer made the most of these opportunities, spent much time and effort perfecting various chants. Every South Indian house now ushers in the dawn ...

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