C.R.Subburaman - Profiles of Music Director

C. R. Subburaman also known as C. S. Ram (1921–1952) was a famous South Indian film music composer and producer. He was born to Ramasamy Iyer at Chintamani village in Thirunelveli, in present-day Tamil Nadu. Music director Shankar of Shankar Ganesh duo is his younger brother. His ancestors were from Krishna district of present Andhra Pradesh and due to this, his family are well spoken of Telugu.

Initially he had learned music from a Nadhaswaram player in Kumbakonam. He was a remarkable learner where whatever that he practiced during the morning, could be able to delivered in the evening. He was well versed in harmonium at the age of 14. At the age of 16 under the recommendation of G. Ramanathan’s brother Sundara Bagavathar, Subburaman joined the HMV as Harmonist.

HMV is a gramophone production and distribution company, under which there was a permanent orchestra led by R. Chinnaiah. S. Rajeswara Rao also was with HMV. At that time, Ramasamy Iyer and Subburaman were residing in Mylapore. Accompanied by his father, he would walk all the way to learn piano from a piano teacher in Triplicane (Thiruvallikkeni).

Owing to his talent and passion towards music, he became the assistant music director in HMV very quickly. Subburaman would sing keethanas in the nights after work. He would be accompanied by a young violinist who had been a temporary worker in HMV. Sensing the talent, Subburaman had not only recommended the young chap to be hired permanently in HMV but also appointed him as his assistant. The talented young violinist is no other than T. K. Ramamoorthy.

He became one of the partners along with lyricist Samudrala Raghavacharya, director/kuchipudi dancer Vedantam Raghavaiah and producer D.L. Narayana and started Vinoda Pictures in 1950. They had produced Strisahasam, Shanti and Devadasu/Devadas. Subburaman had composed 6 to 7 songs for Devadasu/Devadas when he died suddenly. Then, M. S. Viswanathan & T. K. Ramamoorthy completed the balance three songs.

Subburaman had been instrumental in introducing Ghantasala to Tamil film by the movie Paithiyakaran (1947) and also made debut of M. L. Vasanthakumari in Raja Mukthi (1948). Subburaman also gave lessons to P. Leela and chance to sing under his compositions which made her very famous. He was a trend setter in music composition during his heyday. All of the films where music were composed by him were mega musical were hit. He had composed more for Telugu films than Tamil films.

He died at the very young age of 31. During his short lifespan of about 30 years and cinema life of 10 years, he made lasting fame with films like Devadas, Ratnamala, Chenchu Lakshmi, Balaraju, Laila Majnu and others.