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`Paravai' Muniamma - Bubbling with enthusiasm `Paravai' Muniamma - Bubbling with enthusiasm

Topic started by Venki (@ on Mon Jan 19 16:19:28 EST 2004.
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

AT THE age of 62, most women will either confine themselves to supervision of household duties or visit to temples. But there are exceptions like `Paravai' Muniamma, a folk artiste and playback singer-cum-actress, whose zest for life seems unmatched.

Even at this age, she has the stamina to go for an all-out performance on stage where she bubbles with sheer enthusiasm and joy of regaling audiences. She is unstoppable ever since her meteoric rise to stardom which came with the chartbusting number `singam pola' from the Tamil hit `Dhool'. Overnight, she became a household name, her popularity soaring to new heights.

"Don't call me a star. There are many others who have excelled in this field. People like Gunasekaran and Kottaisamy (folk singers) have done yeomen service to folk arts. They are real stars," she says humbly when complimented on her success.

Mrs. Muniamma can never forget the efforts put in by `Kollangudi' Karuppayee. "She is a pioneer and our inspiration. Only after her entry into films, folk artistes dared to dream of a possible break in movies."

Muniamma's voice defies her age. When she gets on to the stage, she simply makes everyone sit up with her peppy voice, which continues to linger even hours after the programme is over, a la the Wordsworthian solitary reaper. Her ability is not just restricted to modulating her voice to melodius tunes. With a native flair, she dances to the tunes and so rhythmic are her movements that members of the audience can't be laid back.

"I ow what I'm today to my teacher, S.Perumal Konar of Paravai. He was instrumental in imparting basic knowledge of folk songs. He taught me all nuances of this art" -- is Muniamma's tribute to her guru.

Even as a seven-year-old, she had it in her -- an instinct to follow folk songs closely. Her interest in singing was spotted pretty early by a gentleman Rangarajan, who approached her father to sign her up for the movie `Ayiram Thalai Vangiya Aboorva Chinthamani'. This was her first offer for playback singing.

"That happened 50 years ago. But my father Karuppiah Servai did not give me permission, as it was a taboo for women to act and sing in films those days. I had to resist my temptation and continue with my studies. However, my father, who was working in the then Harvey Mills, was considerate enough to allow me to learn folk music," she goes down the memory lane.

It was only after several years that Munniamma's potential and talent as a folk singer matured and she took to singing in temple functions. "I entered professional singing at a very late age as I had my household duties and domestic responsibilities which came first."

She remains grateful to Mr.Balan and Mr.Jegannathan of Ramji Audios who gave her a big break on stage. The folk number `Naadu summa kedanthalum kedakkum' earned her encomiums. "It was they who promoted me in a big way by releasing my album and offers started pouring in."

Mrs.Munniamma's fortunes swung when she started touring with the professional music troupe Laxman-Shruti, who signed a contract with her for public performances. She globe-trotted and got introduced on the international circuit with them. Along with it also came hefty payments - much higher than what other folk singers used to get.

Though she has few Tamil numbers to her credit, her versatality is well acknowledged. Her voice has transcended boundaries with performances in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Australia.

Mrs.Munniamma had also started her own music troupe to give performances in neighbouring places. "There were five to six women who sang well. But I had to disband my troupe as I was not able to concentrate on too many jobs at a time."

Before being picked up for "Dhool" by the music director Vidyasagar, Munniamma had other film offers. She regrets having lost a chance in the blockbuster "Muthu" but still hopes to work with A.R.Rahman someday.

Far more active for her age, the grand old folk singer makes it a point to regularly visit her agricultural fields at Perumalpatti near Vadipatti. And in between, she will fly off to London for a performance on January 18.



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