Not many would have missed the female voice in the Rangeela track - Hai Rama. A voice, that along with the versatile Hariharan, made a thumping impact on the audience, and give Urmila Matondkar a new voice on-screen. It was Swarnalatha, a singer who made quite an impression on the music lovers in the country by this track.
As a Rahmaniac, I've listened to a lot of her songs ever since A.R.Rahman came into the limelight. Starting with Usilampatti Penkutti in Gentleman till Kummi Adi from Sillunu Oru Kadhal, Swarnalatha has been an integral part of his albums for more than a decade. Listing a personal favorite among them is a difficult task, however the two songs that will remain closest to my heart are Evano Oruvan from Alaipayuthey and Poraale Ponnuthaayi from Karuthamma. She also won a National Award for the Best Playback Singer - Female for the latter song. A few of her popular tracks include Mukkala Mukkabla (Kadalan), Maya Machindra (Indian), Kadhalenum Thervezhudhi (Kadhalar Dhinam), and Kuchi Kuchi Rakkamma (Bombay).
Though I am not a music expert, it was clearly evident that Swarnalatha was one of the very few female singers who could reach the higher octaves with ease, especially in songs such as Mel Isaiye (Mr. Romeo). And she voiced for my favorite actor Jyothika in Poovellam Un Vassam for the song Thirumana Malargal Tharuvaya, too! And, one song that I loved after repeated listenings (thanks to Sun Music) is 'Maalaiyil Yaaro', and I still feel no one else could have done justice to that song other than Swarnalatha.
It was from A.R.Rahman that I got to know that this singer with a unique voice and a humble nature was no more. It was a moment of sorrow for me in an otherwise joyous 'once in a lifetime' experience of an A.R.Rahman concert. You will be missed by us, but your songs will remain etched in our hearts for the years to come!
In her own lines,
'Andha Kuzhalai Pol Azhuvadharku, Athanai Kangal Enakillaye'
(From Evano Oruvan - Alaipayuthey, which translates to, I just have two eyes to cry, unlike the flute with many eyes (referring to the holes in the flute)).
A few of my favorite tracks featuring a few popular ones and a few unnoticed gems (as always):
Evano Oruvan - Alaipayuthey
Ulunthu Vedaikaiyile - Mudhalvan
Kuliruthu Kuliruthu - Taj Mahal
Thirumana Malargal - Poovellam Un Vaasam
Poraale Ponnuthaayi - Karuthamma
Senyore Senyore - Kannathil Muthamittal
Hai Rama - Rangeela
Madrasa Suthi Paaka Poren - May Maadham
Hai Rama - Rangeela
Sunta Hai Mera Khuda/Sollayo Solai Kili - Pukar/Alli Arjuna