Remembering Karukurichi Arunachalam and how he took nadaswaram to the masses

First Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru presenting a memento to Karukurichi Arunachalam

When Konjum Salangai (1962) became a superhit, it was not only because that was the first Tamil film to be shot in technicolour, but it had made another breakthrough. Nadaswaram—the conical wind instrument—featured extensively in a movie for the first time.

The song ‘Singaravelaney deva’ supported by the powerful notes of the instrument became a huge hit. So much so that one could hear the song played in every nook and corner in those days.

With that, nadaswaram exponent Karukurichi Arunachalam, who played the instrument in the song, scaled new heights. Although he was well known in music and film circles, the instrument reached new audiences with that song.

It is said that actor Gemini Ganesan became so popular because of this song that it drove his contemporary Sivaji Ganesan to make a film Thillana Mohanambal (1968) wherein the nadaswaram played a major role.

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