Legendary singer P Susheela made her debut in Malayalam by singing a beautiful lullaby composed by V Dakshina Murthy for the movie Seetha that was released in 1960. The song ‘Pattu Padi Urakkam Njan Thamarapoompaithale’ is still considered one of the iconic lullabies ever written and composed in Malayalam. The same year, Dakshina Murthy became a father to a daughter. Interestingly, she shares her birthday with Susheela, who is reverently called as 'Gana Saraswathy' (Goddess of music) by her fans. Meanwhile, Dakshina Murthy named his daughter Gomathi Sree.
Little Gomathi who used to accompany her father to the recording studio often watched Susheela singing gracefully in the voice booth. She soon became an admirer of the singer and learned by heart almost all songs that have been sung by Susheela in Malayalam, Tamil and all other languages. She deemed Susheela as her guru. However, Gomathi didn’t choose the path of playback singing in the movies. Instead, she earned name as a talented classical singer. On their birthday, Gomathi Sree opens up about the special bond that she shares with P Susheela and how the latter’s songs have inspired her to become a singer.
“It was in 1960 that Susheelamma had sung in Malayalam for the first time. She debuted in Malayalam through the movie Seetha in which my father was the music composer. I was born on 13 November 1960; she too shared that birth date. So, we share lots of similarities like this. I was a kid when I met her for the first time at the studio. I was born and brought up Chennai. So, I mostly listened to Tamil songs. I have by hearted almost all Tamil songs sung by Susheelamma. When I sing Susheelamma’s songs, many people are surprised to learn that I know those songs. I have no words to describe the special bond that we share with each other. Be it the year in which she debuted in Malayalam or our birthdays, I feel that we are related in so many ways. I have accepted her as my guru in my heart,” says Gomathi Sree.
Gomathi recalls the trip when she had travelled with Susheela to attend a concert by Dakshina Murthy at Peringottukara. They were also accompanied by the composer, singer Ambili and Gomathi’s elder sister. Meanwhile, Susheela had prepared a small note in which she had written down a few points to talk about Dakshina Murthy at the concert. It was also an event organized to honor the legendary composer. While on stage, the singer asked Gomathi to read the note for her. “I read the note that began as ‘Njan Susheela’ (I am Susheela) and became the voice of Susheelamma on that stage. I cannot forget those moments. We spoke a lot during that trip and sang songs for her. She appreciated me saying that I sang well and asked me why I wasn’t singing in movies. I consider those words as her blessings. I have never been lured by the movies. I got a chance to sing a song in Shivaji that was composed by AR Rahman. However, I didn’t look for more opportunities,” notes Gomathi.
Susheela had visited Gomathi’s house, quite a few times, to visit Dakshina Murthy. He told her that Gomathi was an amazing singer. Gomathi even sang a few songs for the singer. Susheela then asked Dakshina Murthy why he wasn’t introducing his daughter to the industry. Gomathi’s younger son is a musician. When he told Gomathi that he wished to make a career in music, she took him to Susheela to seek her blessings. “Susheelamma was really happy and blessed him. I wish to do a program with her; however, I do not know whether it will be possible, especially during the pandemic times. I really like the way she sings, her style, her dedication, the range of her songs, pronunciation and overall perfection. I have heard Susheelamma say that Malayalam is not an easy language. However, Keralites love her a lot,” says Gomathi.
Gomathi confesses that she is Susheela’s greatest fan. She speaks in awe about the kind of songs that Susheela has sung in a career spanning more than seven decades. “It is not easy adjusting our voice to suit the preferences of each composer who belongs to a different generation. That is why her voice was used by many composers. In the old Tamil movies, songs had a classical touch. Later, it changed. Sushleelamma effortlessly sang in all those styles and variations. She began singing at a young age. Unlike the modern times, she had to overcome many hurdles to grow into legendary singer P Susheela who is adorned by millions of music lovers,” Gomathi only has words of praise for Susheela.
Gomathi says that she cannot help but remember S Janaki while talking about Susheela. She reveals that the two iconic singers share a special friendship. Gomathi calls singers like Susheela, Janakai and MS Subbalakshi, the pride of women. Moreover, she sees these veterans as idols who inspire and motivate her whenever she faces any crises in life. She considers herself lucky to have lived during the same time as these legends. Gomathi feels proud that she got a chance to share their friendship and is elated to talk about them. The video of Susheela and Janaki singing the song Rajavin Parvai together had become viral. Their camaraderie and energy are easily noticeable in that video. Gomathi says that she is often surprised by how they take life lightly even at this age. “Even while taking their careers seriously, they approached life in a light and positive manner. It is something that all of us should learn from them. They too might have gone through many ups and downs in their lives. I would like to call them real ‘treasures’. There is a popular saying in Tamil, ‘Adakkam Amarurus Uykum’ which means that self control would take a person closer to God. This saying is apt in the case of Susheelamma. She has won countless honors and awards. Yet, she is gentle and kind to everyone. Her simplicity and humility are her greatest qualities. I wish that she stays healthy and happy for many more years. Happy birthday to my guru!” says Gomathi wishing her guiding light on her birthday. P Susheela turned 86 on 13 November, 2021.