Suresh Krissna recalls recording Valaiosai with Lata Mangeshkar
More than three decades later, Suresh, who has made several hits over the decades, laments the loss of both the song's singers in around a year
The year was 1987 and a young assistant of legendary filmmaker K Balachander was working on his first feature film. All the stars aligned for the director, Suresh Krissna, who was making his debut in his late 20s with Sathyaa, a story written by Javed Akhtar, starring Kamal Haasan, with music by Ilaiyaraaja and with legendary singers like SP Balasubrahmanyam and Lata Mangeshkar on board. The film released in January 1988 to rave reviews for the performances, music and songs, especially the romantic track Valaiosai that continues to endure in pop culture.
More than three decades later, Suresh laments the loss of both the song's singers in around a year. Recalling his days in the-then Bombay, Suresh says, "As someone who was born and brought up in Bombay, I grew up on Lata Mangeshkar songs. It was a part of my life. To have her sing a song, and that too for my first film was a dream come true." It wasn't the first time the director was working with the Nightingale of India, interestingly. His first tryst, in fact, was when he assisted Balachander in the latter's Ek Duuje Ke Liye. The film, a remake of the legendary director's own Telugu film, Maro Charitra (1978), had all the heroine songs, albeit one, sung by Lata, including the cult classic, Tere Mere Beech Mein'. "I remember watching her singing songs for that film and I knew instantly that I had to rope her in for my film."
Though it took him almost a decade before his plan could come to fruition, Suresh remembers even today what it was like to watch Lata prepare to sing Valaiosai. "She went to great lengths to practise and rehearse, in order to get the diction right. She was very keen on getting the words right, so she would keep running the lines by Balu sir who would help her with the words. She always thought of herself as a student, despite her experience. The quality and dedication she showed that day was incredible. When she got in front of the mic and started singing Valaiosai, we knew it would be one of the biggest hits in Tamil cinema. People still talk about the song today, and I believe that it's among the greatest romantic songs in Tamil cinema. I am fortunate to have been able to work with her. It's sad that she suffered at the hospital for so many days; it's devastating that we have now lost her."