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Humorist springs a surprise

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

Madhan Bob and his music troupe will be seen in action along with SPB, who joins them for the bonanza.



Talented trio: Madhan Bob (centre) with daughter Janani and son Archith.

On Sunday, a little known facet of Madhan Bob will come to the fore at the University Centenary Auditorium, Chennai. Many who’ve seen him chortle away in film after film may not be aware that Madhan is basically a musician. And so are his child ren — son Archith and daughter Janani — known names in today’s film music scene, and his wife, Susheela. Together with singing ace S.P. Balasubramaniam, the quartet will showcase both evergreen numbers and recent hits at Madhan Utsav. Rehearsals are going on in full swing, as he snatches a few minutes to talk about the show and more. About 40 musicians will be part of the live orchestra. “Most of them are those who’ve played for the original songs. I will be on the guitar,” he informs.

Trained in Western classical under Dhanraj Master (the guru of greats such as Ilaiyaraja) and in Carnatic under formidable names like S. Ramanathan (“I also learnt guitar from his son Ravi,” he says.), Harihara Sharma and his son ‘Vikku’ Vinayakaram, Madhan Bob has a strong foundation in both genres of music.

First brush with music

He didn’t realise his musical bent, till one day he bought a bulbul Tara at a local exhibition and began strumming on it with felicity unusual of a first timer. “Striking with the plectrum I began my music sojourn playing ‘Jana Gana Mana.’ Generally the national anthem comes at the end.” He punctuates his words with his typical laughter. “I’m a hot-headed person but people laugh my temper off as a joke,” he chuckles. In fact, witty one-liners mark the entire conversation.

A stint with Kamesh Rajamani’s light music troupe, a considerably long innings as music director of stage plays beginning with YGP’s UAA and jingles, and working on TV commercials and soaps, Madhan Bob has been busy always. His music score for the documentary, ‘Villages of India,’ telecast on BBC, won him a gold medal. So it’s rather intriguing that despite accomplishments and contacts in the industry, he has not composed for films. “Probably I’ve never tried hard,” he says.

His troupe isn’t new to the stage either. All along he’s been doing shows for friends and corporate houses. But this is the first time that together with Vijay TV, Aircel and General Nice, Madhan Utsav has been envisaged on a big scale. “I’ve always insisted that Archith and Janani should make it on their own merit. Not as Madhan Bob’s children. Besides their singing potential, they have the showmanship essential for the stage. And as SPB will be with them, I’m coming back with Madhan Utsav in a big way,” he explains.

So gear up for a heady mix of old, not-too-old and new numbers this weekend at Madhan Utsav. “The youngsters and SPB should make an enjoyable combo. He’s the greatest and they are the latest,” he laughs.

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