Monday, September 08, 2008

S. Janaki

Sometimes when I am sitting and sticking needles into S.Janaki dolls, I often wonder if there is a better way to express my hatred towards her voice. Airtel Super Singer has given me a superb idea.

S. Janaki should be made to stand in that podium with red, yellow and green lights and sing all of her songs one after the other. For each song, after she sings 2-3 lines, one should press the red button, shout 'REJECT' and simply yell at her for having such an obscene height-of-abaswaram voice. One should pour vitriol on her shruthi, thaalam, raagam, pace and pretty much everything one knows about music terminology. After pressing the red button again all three judges should shout "your voice sucks" and then make her move to the next song.

SMS competitions - on the best way to abuse S. Janaki - should be conducted and the winner should be allowed to throw a basket full of eggs and rotten tomatoes on S. Janaki at maximum speed.


Anonymous said...

Medaiyum mike-um koduthaal...fill in the rest.


Maha said...

in the words of matt hayden - Its racial vilification mate!.

Anonymous said...


konjam ovara theriyala unakku ithu... ennamo po...i know you dont agree with the crowd.. but this is little too much... :-) ennamo po nalla iruntha seri...

- Ganesh

Vee Cee said...


indha paatta vera yaaraavadhu paada sollu paakkalaam!!!

Hawkeye said...


forgot to tell you. both juggy and mahesh work here. i am going to have lunch with them. if you and MJB join our jeep gang is complete.

Hawkeye said...




its desa thondu.


music india online has trojan in it? bayama irukku.

Hawkeye said...

vee cee,

on the subject of linking random songs. There is a fantastic tune composed by IR called "oru naal andha oru naal" in the Naser directed movie "devadhai". Show me another singer who can so cruelly and completely kill the song (with her horrible voice) as much as janaki did.

while at it check a song called "naan aanai ittaal" from the movie "Lakshmi Vandhachu" and give me your thoughts.

rads said...

achacho! Too much. paavam S Janaki. If she weren't there, would you have appreciated Suseela? :p

Anonymous said...

LOL... U conveniently ignored my comment...

You Left uyarndha manidhan.. i forgot his name... he is also from Anna Nagar... that completes our jeep gang... Will surely meet u sometime...

- Ganesh

Hawkeye said...

nayee.. unn comment periya velakkennai comment. I would hate janaki even if nobody liked her. just that there is no temptation to put it in a blog post.

shanmu marthandam is the light house you are looking for. he wasn't a jeep regular.


even uma ramanan gets konjundu marks.

Vee Cee said...

vaaaguely remember 'dhevadhai'/'oru naal'. is that the climax song?

anyway....if it was such a fantastic tune by IR, are you trying to tell me he OK-ed the alleged murder by S.J.? Or, are you trying to tell me, you know better than IR?

weight-aana paarty. logic-liyey adippaen!
should i be adding a smiley, winky, grinney or something like that here!!!

on a serious note, am intrigued. would appreciate links to the songs.

Hawkeye said...

vee cee,

IR's greatest crime was giving his best tunes to SJ. the only qualification needed to say this is that (a) one should have listened to the song and (b) one shouldn't have liked SJ's voice in the song.

ithukku mela oru qualificationum thevai illai.

Hawkeye said...

vee cee,

isnt the song for 'devadhai' available in raaga. i am afraid to go to music india online.

Vee Cee said...

blogging vaazhga!!!!

Vee Cee said...

checked in raaga. not available.

Hawkeye said...

vee cee,

yes, there is the blogger a/c logic which supercedes all other logic.

but the logic i was hoping you'd get was ; if you need to know more than IR to dislike a voice in the song then do you need more knowledge than IR to like a voice in the song too?

wouldnt the logic be self-cancelling?

i will send u the link.

Vee Cee said...

if you need to know more than IR to dislike a voice in the song then do you need more knowledge than IR to like a voice in the song too?

not exactly. but then, i use logic, not bloggic. :-)

raaga has a whole bunch of songs in 'lakshmi vandhaachu'. no 'naan aanai ittaal'. does the song have an alias?

Hawkeye said...

vee cee,

kaaranam! kaaranam!

Mahesh said...

@V.C: i think you check mate :-) if not you wud have come with better reply.

Hawkeye said...


enna pangali kullaaara sandai murukki vida paakiya. elai....

Mahesh said...

hakkie kanna,

even for your pangali; netrikann thirappinum...

Hawkeye said...

i have lost interest. lets stick to janaki sucks.

jingili said...

"Nenjinile" from uyire is her all time worst..wat abt her counter Lata Mangeshkar?

Both were gud 20yrs their voices are croaky and verge of breakin..

Anonymous said...

this is like pure jackal and grapes story... i do read your blogs reqularly... but this blog shows that you have overdon it...

i respect s janaki as a singer and she has contributed a lot to music industry... empathise yourself and let me know how you will feel when you go thru the same shit which you have written about s janaki... grow up man its high time

Srijith Unni said...

I can so much as agree that S.Janaki's voice does not have the conventional smoothness of female playback rendition. But however there is a rawness, which most of the times made the song seem real. In that sense i think her songs have been less appreciated in tamil. Her songs set to the tunes of Late malayalam music director M.S.Baburaj were such a rage then

Even in Kannada and Telugu for that matter. Her voice has range. I even remember seeing a video where she sings like a young boy.

So hawkeye, as a long time reader of your blog, i would appreciate some research from your side. I understand your's is a personal rant, but I still feel it should have been toned down, considering her mass body of work.

siva said...

You seem to have an instinctive dislike for her voice. Fine.that's ur prerogative. On an another note, just wondering if personal blog rants can be grounds for defamation?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't show hatred in this tone, like her or not. Your post seems to be a simple baseless hatred based rant post. Not very sensible.

Anonymous said...

makkale, edhukku ivlo heart-burning?
Ivanai katti vechu 48 hrs continuous-a Himesh Reshamiyaa loop pottudalam? Mavane, appuram vaaya therakkarana paarkalam S Janaki pathi.
Illaina, Lata patti-oda latest songs loop podalam.
Adhuvum illaina, Swarnalathava- live performance kudukka sollalam. Ava padarache ashta konala moonji poradhai close-up la continuousa ivan moonjila focus pannalam.

Sangeetha said...

Janaki evlavo better than Lata mangeshkar who still keeps singing and torturing us. I can't stand her voice and it's high time she lets other singers get chances and those dumb hindi directors still keep asking her to sing (Have you heard Veer Zaara songs??? No sync when we see Preity Zinta and hear the voice - Pure torture!

Hawkeye said...


when i was growing up and hearing SJ for the first few times, I kept asking 'why is her voice so bad'. I was told that her early voice was good and now she has become old.

now when i see an old song SJ song on TV, i ask everybdy around me and they grudgingly agree her voice is bad. her bad voice gets hidden in superb IR tunes. when she sings for bad IR songs and shankar ganesh, we can see the real thing. As she grew old her voice for good IR songs also became bad.


there was a time when people abused me in the blog almost everyday. i dont understand how it can affect a person. i am sure SJ has seen her criticism and has grown immune to it. plus, 'what she might feel' is a factor not really relevant to comments on her voice.


thanks for your nice comments. I havent listened to her non-tamil songs. i just feel that given the volume of songs that she has sung for IR and the hits that IR has produced her poor voice has been largely overlooked.

/* So hawkeye, as a long time reader of your blog, i would appreciate some research from your side */

I wanted to do it. your comment has mtvated me.I plan to continuously give out examples of bad SJ singing and start a series of posts on this.

/*but I still feel it should have been toned down, considering her mass body of work. */

i see your POV. the only explanation i can offer is that 'at least i was honest abot what I felt'. However, I strongly dislike the fact that she has sung so much. Seems like IR kept giving chnaces to a chosen few.


i think if i did a personal character assasination then maybe yes. her voice is her trade, its subject to criticism.


i hate her voice. i wrote a post hating her voice.


i have posted about this b4 - have you see vani jayaram's face when she sings ?


I haven't heard LM that much. After a long time i heard a song called 'kaun dagar' from the movie lajja (IR composed it) and she was kazha bolted.

Anonymous said...

Wow, reading someone lament SJ's voice.when younger i used to think SJ as my fav singer not knowing that it was IR's tunes i was addicted to and not that woman's voice. perussanathukappuram thaan athu purinjithu but i kept my opinion to myself coz ppl will then give me brickbats -nnu. but thankgod there is another who hates her voice!!


... said...

she irritates me in gilma songs

Vijay said...

You are entitled to your opinion on S.Janaki's 'voice' -- which is subjective.

However, when you use words like 'height-of-abaswaram', 'talam', 'shruthi' -- these are more objective metrics. Without examples illustrating when and where S.Janaki was off-shruthi or off-talam or sang a false note, it would make this post more of a baseless rant, as somebody observed.

As an aside:
(1) In my opinion, S.Janaki had one of the best voices in Indian film Industry, capable of exquisite expression. In fact, to my knowledge I have not seen *any* singer who can "emote" with her voice so well. (You must have heard the prelude to the "ponmeni" song, haven't you.)
(2) Voice, like any other human attribute, is subject to decay with age.
(3)Even if a person does have a great voice, a person can still be respected and adored for his/her expression and musical prowess. For instance, Semmangudi Srinivasan, who most people seem to think does not have a great voice, is very highly respected and adored in carnatic music circle.
(4) Finally, hear this song and tell me again that her voice is no good. Singing with the nadaswaram, with nadaswaram style gamakas is not a joke and it requires a great voice to do this.

Hawkeye said...


i will provide instances. However, my main gripe is her voice. In that it is very unpleasant to my ears. The rest of the technical things come later.

I'll present songs in this blog frequently from now on that shows some very good tunes that SJ killed. A few songs (of the very many that are out there) I quoted in this comment section that clearly make me angry are (and 2 of these songs have good tunes)

1. "Thendral Vandhu theendum pozhuthu enna vannamo" ( Nasseer movie. Great tune sung by a horrible voice)

2. Oru naal antha oru naal - Devadhai

3. "naan aanai ittaal" - song in "lakshmi vandhachu" where revathi mimics padmini and jayachitra mimics sivaji (they sing it in the terrace).

Like some commentor mentioned she has killed most of the gujaals songs too. It is terrible when she makes noises that are intended to be "sexy". Really terrible.

Having said all this, I agree Singara Velane Deva is a fantastic song. I give that to you.

(reposted with typos removed)

Arunk said...

She certainly has/had a very very shrill voice - not my favorite. But I would rate her voice quality better than Vani Jayaram.

But in any case, you say the following (my emphasis): .. sing ALL of her songs one after the other. FOR EACH SONG, ... yell at her for having such an obscene HEIGHT-OF-ABASWARAM voice

Overboard - no? She had classical training and as far as I can remember she certainly could keep pitch - and her voice wasnt teetering on apaswaram (unlike the maestro music director for whom she sang for ;);)). Although, I am not sure about "her past prime" songs. I can only recall early to prime - say till late eighties.

Past prime - all bets are off in a genre where tonal quality of voice is the main and only trump card (unlike carnatic, where it is actually a minor and hence actually ignorable factor). Even TMS sucked in his past-prime.


Hawkeye said...


even a day after you linked 'singara velaane' - it still rankles me. i cant believe SJ sung it. I can imagine singers who start poor and become good. SJ started with singaara velane deva and then deteriorated. You mentioned 'ponmeni uruguthe' prelude - what about the voice in the actual song (the part where she shriekd 'aaaaa' with an intention of creating pleasure sound) - didnt that make you curl up and vomit.


the exaggeration was for effect. the kernel is that her voice was bad to dodgy even during her peak and really bad in late 80s and 90s. forget the technicalities. its her voice.

maxdavinci said...

you have this uncanny knack of attracting attention. I'm pretty sure you don't do it on purpose, but it makes for interesting reading.

Anonymous said...

In an SPB interview (I believe it is Coffee with Anu), he talked about how his wife was disappointed with him for not having helped (promoted) SP Sailaja enough to establish herself in the Tamil cine industry. He added, "What could I do, when someone asked me who the best female playback singer was, I couldn't lie and always named S. Janaki".

I don't mind her but then again I don't claim to have listened to many of her songs.


Anonymous said...

who do you think you are...?
Can u suggest a voice to replace hers in "katril enthan ..." ,"chinna kannan azhakiraan", "Kannan vanthu paadukinraan" and "thoogaatha vizhigal..."
Oru naal antha oru naal was damn gud..cant u see how IR is struggling to find a replacement for her his live on stage programmes... he's brings Shreya and she goes "thoduthey..."
and sadhana who goes "Soruuuugami endralooo..."

wat a dare.. ?


nivi said...

hahaha I sooooo agree!
Especially her 80's 90's songs.

Her only good one "Singara velane deva" -Konjum Salangai

Vijay said...

I heard that 'thendral vandhu' song from Avathaaram again...I can understand why you don't like S.Janaki's voice.

While, S.Janak's musical prowess has not decreased over the years, clearly, her voice undergone a transformation (the highs have stayed the same, while the lows and mids have attenuated); In other words, the warmth in the voice is lost, only retaining the 'raw' higher frequencies.

However, this may not affect a subset of people (including Ilayaraja...I presume), who by then have already bought into S.Janaki , her style, her musical prowess and her expression. It is important to note that a lot of music appreciation is phsychological.

In effect, your gripe about S.Janaki's voice (and voice only) is a perfectly reasonable one (although a lot of people, including me, won't necessarily agree with you).

Satish Kumar said...

I think your comment on Melody Queen S Janaki is baseless. You do not have enough brain to comment on the greatness of Her Voice which is so divine. Let me know according to you who is the best singer ?. I can give loads of songs sung by her in different languages which no body dare to sing. Each of her song is a diamond and precious stones. Your comments about the Legend shows your standard .

sma.suresh said...

bledyfucker..!where r u ? janakiamma's voice s incomparable with any other in india.i show a mega list of songs 2 prove.but ur comment s very vulger & stupid.Here after u write anything abt our amma,we have tocome u r place to beat by old chappals. SMA.SURESH

Anonymous said...

s.janaki pathi wrong comments kodutha athani perum poraamai pidicha gnana soonyangal.she is a living legend.
indian music industry la yaaraalum avvalavu expressions koduthu paadave mudiyathu.thevai illama avangalai maathiri periyavangalai pathi thappa pesakoodathu.


Anonymous said...

Hello Comeon - Ofcourse she should have stopped singing when her voice detoriated. Her old time songs are good. The only singer I think I felt has still JEEVAN in her voice is CHITRA. Really talented and developed and grown drastically. CHITRA is my all time favourite. Great personality, Simple and still the best

samarth said...

If there is any female great singer in India, it is S Janaki. All others come next .. Stop writing foolishly. Those who write bad must have bad ears. I pity for those.

service said...

I don't think all music directors from MSV, Ilayaraja upto AR Rahman are fools to use S Janaki if she was not talented. Her voice may not be equal to Susheela but SJ's versatility is matchless. SJ,SPB and Asha Bhonsle are people who don't just sing but improvise and perform in songs. Even today there is newcomer who is anywhere near to these legends - Christy, Chennai

Navaneeth said...

who ever is criticizing S. Janaki's voice or her song rendition doesn't have any musical sense. Agreed that her aaaaa's and ooooo's in the cabaret and sexy numbers are many a times harsh for the ears. Still she is the best in the melody segment. Was IR a fool to give most of his songs to Janakiamma. She is highly respected in Karnataka at least. She is called Kannada Kogile, melody queen of Kannada. Janakiamma is the best singer ever in India after Lata.M.

Karthik said...

voice of janaki is incomparable. if her voice was bad then why should great music directors choose her for their songs? even now when i hear her malayalam and tamil songs, my respect towards her increases.
before telling something about a great artist, first think about yourself. if you are eligible, then put your worse comments. simply commenting on someone's voice is not good. these vulgar comments shows who you are and your knowledge in music.
there are many singers whose voice clarity is good. but when it comes to versatility then we have to prefer janaki. she has her own style and others try to imitate.
it will be good if you apologize.

Vinay said...

S Janaki is a very versatile singer. May be her songs after 90's may not be good for you . She sang some excellent songs in 70's and 80's in tamil and from 60's itself in malayalam and kannada . Even her telugu songs are very cute . Listen her tamil songs like
vazkail odum sella , sindhoorapoove, en ragangal , vasantha kala kolangal , ippadi oruthalattu paadava , Ponvaanam panneru song and many more, I am not a tamil speaking guy but I loved tamil because of her songs . I accept that every one has their own taste . I cannot enjoy most of the songs by some other famous singers . But , There is a way to express it. I really felt bad reading the post . Go to the site and listen her classical and film numbers.

I accept after 90's some of her songs and as well as Lataji's songs whom I am a great devotee of lack their beauty . But , It is producers and directors who wanted them to sing and who compelled them . May be they should have rejected , which is my opinion too . But no singer rejected songs with age in our music. That is their profession .But looking at these off key numbers , please don't blame our own talent . If I hurt your feelings ,I am sorry , But My sincere request is don't under estimate great talents of our country with few bad examples. Even Sachin Tendulkar was duck out few times.

Kevin said...

All I can say is "If this is your attitude towards a great singer like S Janaki who has lived her entire life dedicated to songs enthralling many people across south India, a day will surely come when your contributions to mankind would be judged would you like to be judged then?...with kind words and compassion or a similar attitude with eggs and rotten tomatoes at maximum speed? "

Anonymous said...

Dear Hawkeye,
I agree with you completely that with her shitty voice, S . Janaki should not have sung some of the best compositions of Illayaraja (god knows for what reason he preferred her). Can anybody supporting Janaki just answer one question - despite her entry into the cine field in 1957 why was she ignored by scores of composers till I'raja came by in 1976? The answer is simple: I'raja could camouflage her bad voice with technology and loud background music. She seems to lack a true voice. More often than not her voice sounds like an old lady or an adolescent boy trying to imitate that of a young female.