I understand a new documentary on MDR has been produced recently. Meena Menon writes in yesterday’s magazine section of the Hindu about it:
After graduating in Physics, MDR came to Kalakshetra where he was the disciple of the redoubtable singer and composer Tiger Varadachariar for five years. For the filmmaker, the main inspiration was the quality of MDR’s voice. “You don’t break the composition but he breaks the lyrics in such a way that it intensifies the emotion and the meaning. He never sang a composition the same way twice, which is unusual. His understanding of how music should be placed was unique. That’s what is so special,” Ramachandran points out.
MDR listened to all sorts of music — Western, folk, Hindustani and Kathakali music — and he improvised using the best aesthetic elements. Some of his compositions infuse Hindustani music into Carnatic singing as singer Sreevalsan Menon demonstrates in the film. For Ramachandran, the aesthetic elements in MDR’s music, his languorous pace and low pitch set him part. MDR set his own pace, “The tala should follow like a dog,” he is known to have said, much to the dismay of his accompanists. Violin virtuoso T N Krishnan, who has accompanied him, says that MDR would never sing a preset piece.
Listeners too played an important role. “All the music I got was from personal collections of fans like Krishnamurthy (who is featured in the film) who have collected MDR’s recordings over the years. I approached Doordarshan in Chennai; they had a complicated procedure to access recordings but no visual clips,” he complains.
Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea how to get access to the movie though!