G. Ramanathan

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G. Ramanathan
Background information
Also known asGR
Born Bikshandarkoil, Trichinopoly District, Madras Presidency, British India
Died20 November 1963
Chennai, Madras State, India
Occupation(s)Composer, music director
InstrumentsVocals (playback singing), keyboard/harmonium/piano
Years active1940–1963
LabelsIsai Methai, Sangeetha Chakravarthy

Gopalan Iyer Ramanathan was an Indian music composer for Tamil movies. He is also known as Isai Methai (Genius of Music) or Sangeetha Chakravarthy (Emperor of Music) and is considered to be one of the influential Tamil music composers to take Carnatic music to the masses. Notable for his association with M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. G. Ramanathan also composed for films of Salem Modern Theatres and Coimbatore Central Studios. His career lasted until his death in 1963. During the 1950s G.Ramanathan's music dominated most of the box office hits of the then leading Tamil movie stars Shivaji Ganesan and M. G. Ramachandran.


Early life

G. Ramanathan (GR) was born in Bikshandarkoil, Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, India. GR's biographer Vamanan indicates that his birth year could have been 1910. GR's father was Gopalsamy Iyer who worked as sub-inspector in the Indian Railways. He lost his parents while being young, and was taken care by his elder brother Sundara Bhagawathar. GR could have schooling only until standard 5. He married Jeyalakshmi in 1942 and had two daughters - Sai and Lakshmi. His grandchildren are Ranjan Balachandra and Bhavani Balachandra who are Lakshmi's son and daughter respectively and Prabhu and Uma Shekhar who are Sai's son and daughter.

He joined the Baratha Gana Saba, a drama troupe and played harmonium at the age of 18. Then he joined the V. A. Chellappa Drama company, and sang playback and played harmonium. In 1932, he first played musical instrument for a Tamil film called Galavarishi which was produced in Bombay.

In 1938 M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar produced Sathyaseelan in Bombay and GR became the music director for that film which followed by the Vipranarayana (old). The first film to be produced in Madras with GR as the music director was Bookailash, followed by Parasuraman and Bhoologa Rambai (old). GR was a resident music director for the Modern Theatres since the beginning except a few which were done by K. V. Mahadevan.

He had acted in Aayiram Thalai Vaangi Apoorva Chinthamani (1947) in the role Sanyasi.


GR never had proper training in carnatic music. It was all Kelvi Gnanam (learning by listening). He had a passion and liking towards carnatic music and went all out in composing. GR became the music director when stage dramas were equally popular in the 1940s. He had to balance up between the cinema and the stage dramas.

It was conditional that the cinema songs of those days had to be composed to the basic carnatic tune and it used to be thought that cinema music would never equal the pure form of carnatic music. GR had proved otherwise when he had composed music for the song "Manmatha Leelaiyai Vendrar Undo" in Haridas sung by M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. He is a staunch believer that only music that had the carnatic base could endure where most of his songs were "semi classic".

He has a liking for the voices of G. N. Balasubramaniam, M. L. Vasanthakumari, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, and the Hindi film music director Naushad and his favourite singers in his compositions were S. Varalakshmi, P. Susheela and Jikki. Of all the voices, he is a great lover of M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. GR believes that only MKT could deliver what was expected of any singer. GR was also an excellent singer and had sung in his own compositions in Ponmudi and also under K. V. Mahadevan's composition for Alli Petra Pillai.

He worked with singers like T. M. Soundararajan, A. M. Rajah, K.J. Yesudas, Seerkazhi Govindarajan, Thiruchi Loganathan, Ghantasala, C. S. Jayaraman, V. N. Sundharam, T. A. Mothi, P. B. Sreenivas, P. Leela, T. V. Rathnam, R. Balasaraswathi Devi, A. P. Komala, Radha Jayalakshmi, M. S. Rajeswari, T. S. Bagavathi, K. Jamuna Rani, P. Suseela, A. G. Rathnamala, N. L. Ganasaraswathi, K. Rani, K. V. Janaki, Soolamangalam Jayalakshmi, Soolamangalam Rajalakshmi, S. Janaki and L. R. Eswari. V. T. Rajagopalan, G. Ramanathan's good friend and assistant, sang few songs for him.

The singing actors M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar, P. U. Chinnappa, M. M. Dandapani Desikar, Kothamangalam Cheenu, M. S. Subbulakshmi, D. K. Pattammal, C. Honnappa Bhagavathar, U. R. Jeevarathinam, N. C. Vasanthakokilam, T. R. Mahalingam, T. R. Rajakumari, K. R. Ramasamy, Chittor V. Nagaiah, P. Bhanumathi, N. S. Krishnan, T. A. Madhuram, T. S. Durairaj and J. P. Chandrababu also sang memorable songs under his compositions.

GR would strive the singers to the excellence. T. M. Soundararajan said that if one could sing to the satisfaction and the tune of GR you could easily sing for the tune of any music director in any part of the world. GR would sing out the songs before recording to guide the singers. His greatest talent was that he was able to compose tunes suiting the storyline as well as the period of production of the films. He produced a film Pudhu Yugam under Sree Saai Gaanaamirudha Pictures in 1954.

GR's last film was Deivathin Deivam by K. S. Gopalakrishnan. He died of a heart attack in the midst of composing for the film Arunagirinathar . Then T. R. Pappa completed it.


Vamanan had published a biography entitled Sangeetha Chakravarthi G. Ramanathan (2006), which provides details of 85 Tamil movies in which GR had composed music from 1940 to 1969, 12 songs he had sung in Tamil movies and 4 movies in which he had appeared in minor roles.


Music Director

YearFilmLanguageDirectorBannerCo-Music Directors
1936 Sathyaseelan Tamil B. SampathkumarTrichy Thyagaraja Films Papanasam Sivan
1938 Vipra Narayana TamilA. NarayananSound City
1938Bookailash or Mandodhari ParinayamTamil Sundar Rao Nadkarni Sundaram Sound Pictures
1940Bhooloka RambaiTamilB. N. RaoSalem Shanmugha Films & Vijaya Maruthi Pictures
1940Harihara Maya or BhikshadanarTamilC. V. Raman Modern Theatres
1940ParasuramarTamilH. S. Mehtha
1940 Vikrama Oorvasi or Oorvasiytin Kaadhal Tamil T. R. Sundaram Modern Theatres
1941 Aryamala Tamil S. M. Sriramulu Naidu Pakshiraja Studios
1942 Aanandan or Agni Purana Mahimai Tamil S. D. S. Yogi Mayura FilmsT. A. Kalyanam
1942Krishna PidaranTamilC. V. RamanT. K. Productions
1942 Prithivirajan TamilB. Sampathkumar Central Studios and Haran Talkies
1943 Kubera Kuchela TamilR. S. Mani Jupiter Pictures background music
1943 Sivakavi Tamil S. M. Sriramulu Naidu Pakshiraja Studios Papanasam Sivan
1944 Haridas Tamil Sundar Rao Nadkarni Royal Talkies Papanasam Sivan
1944 Jagathalaprathapan Tamil S. M. Sriramulu Naidu Central Studios
1945 Bhakta Kalathi Tamil R. Padmanaban Padma Pictures
1946 Aaravalli Sooravalli TamilC. V. Raman Modern Theatres
1947 Aayiram Thalai Vaangi Apoorva Chinthamani Tamil T. R. Sundaram Modern Theatres
1947 Ekambavanan TamilB. N. Rao & T. V. KrishnaswamiSaravanabhava Pictures
1947KadagamTamilAcharyaTamil Nadu Talkies
1947KundalakesiTamilBoman D. Irani S. M. Subbaiah Naidu
1947 Ponnaruvi TamilC. V. Raman
1947RukmangadhanTamilP. S. V. IyerNational Studio & Iyer Productions
1948 Adhithan Kanavu Tamil T. R. Sundaram Modern Theatres
1948 Bhojan Tamil T. R. Sundaram Modern Theatres
1948 Lakshmi Vijayam TamilBomman D. IraniSri Meenakshi Films
1948Sri AandalTamilVeluchamy KaviSalem Surya FilmsRanganathan
1949Deva ManohariTamilA. T. KrishnaswamyArkays Pictures
1949 Inbavalli TamilS. NotaniShyamala Pictures
1949 Mayavathi Tamil T. R. Sundaram Ganapathi Pictures
1949 Mangayarkarasi TamilJiten BannerjeeBhagya Pictures C. R. Subburaman & Kunnakudi Venkatarama Iyer
1949 Rathnakumar Tamil Krishnan–Panju Murugan Talkies C. R. Subburaman
1950 Ponmudi Tamil Ellis R. Dungan Modern Theatres
1950 Manthiri Kumari TamilEllis R. Dungan Modern Theatres
1950 Parijatham TamilK. S. Gopala KrishnanLavanya Pictures S. V. Venkatraman & C. R. Subburaman
1950 Thigambara Samiar Tamil T. R. Sundaram Modern Theatres S. M. Subbaiah Naidu
1951 Devaki TamilR. S. ManiGanapathi Pictures
1951 Sudharshan Tamil Sundar Rao Nadkarni & A.S.A. SamiRoyal Talkies
1952 Amarakavi TamilF. NagoorNagoor Cine ProductionsT. A. Kalyanam
1952 Kalyani TamilAcharya & M. Masthan Modern Theatres S. Dakshinamurthy
1952 Atthainti Kaapuram Telugu Acharya & M. Masthan Modern Theatres S. Dakshinamurthy
1952 The Jungle English William Berke & Ellis R. Dungan Modern Theatres & Lippert Pictures
1952 Zamindar TamilP. V. Krishnan Jupiter Pictures & Sangeetha Pictures
1952 Shyamala Tamil B. A. Subba Rao Yuva Pictures T. V. Raju & S. B. Thinakar Rao
1953 Gumastha TamilR. M. KrishnaswamiAruna Pictures C. N. Pandurangan & V. Nagaiah
1953 Vazha Pirandhaval Tamil T. R. Ramanna R. R. Pictures S. Rajeswara Rao
1953 Marumagal Tamil D. Yoganand Krishna Pictures C. R. Subburaman & Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
1953 Thirumbi Paar Tamil T. R. Sundaram Modern Theatres
1953 Inspector TamilR. S. Mani Jupiter Pictures
1953 Inspector TeluguR. S. ManiJupiter Pictures
1953 Rohini Tamil Kamal Ghosh Madras Arts Production K. V. Mahadevan & D. C. Dutt
1953 Kangal Tamil Krishnan–Panju Motion Pictures Team S. V. Venkatraman
1954 Karkottai TamilKemparajKemparaj Productions S. V. Venkatraman
1954 Illara Jothi TamilG. R. Rao Modern Theatres
1954 Pudhu Yugam TamilGopu-SundarSree Saai Gaanaamirudha Pictures
1954 Kanavu TamilP. V. KrishnanK. R. K. Productions V. Dakshinamoorthy
1954 Thookku Thookki TamilR. M. KrishnaswamiAruna Films
1954 Nanban TamilP. S. Srinivasa RaoM. D. V. Productions
1954 Veerasundari TamilJikkade
M. R. Ranganath
Sri Sundari PicturesRathinavel Mudaliar
1955 Kaveri Tamil D. Yoganand Krishna Pictures Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
1955 Nalla Thangai Tamil S. A. Natarajan Forward Art Films
1955 Kathanayaki Tamil K. Ramnath Modern Theatres
1955 Vijaya Gauri Telugu D. Yoganand Krishna Pictures Viswanathan–Ramamoorthy
1955 Gomathiyin Kaadhalan Tamil P. Neelakantan T. R. R. Productions
1955 Maheswari Tamil T. R. Raghunath Modern Theatres
1955 Doctor Savithri TamilR. M. KrishnaswamyAruna Films
1955 Nalla Thangal TamilP. V. Krishnan IyerMadras Movietone
1956 Amara Deepam Tamil T. Prakash Rao Venus Pictures T. Chalapathi Rao
1956 Amara Deepam Telugu T. Prakash Rao Venus Pictures T. Chalapathi Rao
1956Kokilavani Kannada S. A. Natarajan Forward Arts Films
1956 Kokilavani Tamil S. A. Natarajan Forward Arts Films
1956 Madurai Veeran Tamil D. Yoganand Krishna Pictures
1956 Sahasaveerudu Telugu D. Yoganand Krishna Pictures
1956 Naan Petra Selvam TamilK. SomuParagon Pictures
1956 Sadhaaram TamilV. C. SubburamanKasturi Films
1957 Aaravalli TamilS. V. Krishna Rao Modern Theatres
1957 Ambikapathy Tamil P. Neelakantan ALS Productions
1957 Chakravarthi Thirumagal Tamil P. Neelakantan Uma Pictures
1957 Karpukkarasi Tamil K. Ramnoth & A. S. A. Sami Jupiter Pictures
1957 Uttama Illaalu Telugu K. Ramnoth & A. S. A. Sami Jupiter Pictures
1957 Manamagan Thevai Tamil P. S. Ramakrishna Rao Bharani Pictures
1957 Varudu Kavaali Telugu P. S. Ramakrishna Rao Bharani Pictures
1957 Pudhumai Pithan Tamil T. R. Ramanna RR Pictures
1957 Veera Khadgam Telugu T. R. Ramanna RR Pictures
1957 Pudhu Vazhvu Tamil M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar Sarvodaya Pictures C. N. Pandurangan
1957 Rani Lalithangi Tamil T. R. Raghunath TNR Productions
1957 Samaya Sanjeevi Tamil V. S. Raghavan Sri Nataraja Films
1957 Vanangamudi Tamil P. Pullaiah Saravanabhava Pictures & Unity Pictures
1958 Kaathavaraayan Tamil T. R. Ramanna RR Pictures
1958 Karthavarayuni Katha Telugu T. R. Ramanna RR PicturesG. Aswathama
1958 Mangalya Bhagyam Tamil T. R. Raghunath Krishna Pictures
1958 Sarangadhara Tamil V. S. Raghavan Minerva Pictures
1958 Sitamgar Hindi T. Prakash Rao Venus Pictures
1958 Uthama Puthiran Tamil T. Prakash Rao Venus Pictures
1958 Veera Prathap Telugu T. Prakash Rao Venus Pictures
1959 Kalyanikku Kalyanam Tamil A. S. A. Sami Manohar Pictures
1959 Manimekalai Tamil V. S. Raghavan Shekhar Art Film
1959 Naan Sollum Ragasiyam TamilP. Sridhar RaoKasthuri Films
1959 President Panchatcharam Tamil A. Bhim Singh Savithri Pictures
1959 Veerapandiya Kattabomman Tamil B. R. Panthulu Padmini Pictures
1959 Veerapandya Kattabrahmana Telugu B. R. Panthulu Padmini Pictures
1960 Chavukkadi Chandrakantha TamilM. RadhakrishnanAruna Films
1960 Kadavulin Kuzhandhai TamilDada MiraziVetrivel Films
1960 Raja Desingu TamilT. R. RaghunathKrishna Films
1960ThozhanTamilK. VembuA. D. M. Productions
1961 Arasilangkumari TamilM. Somasundaram Jupiter Pictures
1961 Kappalottiya Thamizhan Tamil B. R. Panthulu Padmini Pictures
1961 Sri Valli Tamil T. R. Ramanna Narasu Studios
1962 Deivathin Deivam Tamil K. S. Gopalakrishnan Chitra Productions
1962 Pattinathar Tamil T. R. Ramanna J. R. Productions
1963 Chittoor Rani Padmini Tamil Ch. Narayana Murthy Uma Pictures
1964 Arunagirinathar Tamil T. R. Ramanna RR Pictures T. R. Pappa
1969Captain RanjanTamilT. P. SundaramFilm Land Productions

Playback Singer

1947 1000 Thalaivangi Apoorva Chinthamani TamilNallathai SollidavenG. Ramanathan
1950 Ponmudi TamilNeela Vanum Nilavum Pol T. V. Rathnam G. Ramanathan
Van Mazhaiyindri Vadidum Payir Pola T. V. Rathnam
Nam Jeevaatharame Selvam Agume
Aruyire Premai Amudha Variyil T. V. Rathnam
Dhesamenggum Nalvalam
Meikadhal Arumbu Vazhvinile Poothathe Indre T. V. Rathnam
En Kaalamo Marana
1952 Amarakavi TamilOnru Serndhu Paadupattal .. Sevai Seythaale M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar G. Ramanathan
Paadharasam Pole
1955 Nalla Thangai TamilKooli Miga Ketpaar ... Engirundo VanthanG. Ramanathan
1955 Nalla Thangal TamilIthanai Naalaaga Engedi Pone K. Jamuna Rani G. Ramanathan
1957 Aravalli TamilAaravalli SooravalliG. Ramanathan
1959 Alli Petra Pillai TamilEjaman Petra Selvame K. V. Mahadevan
1959 Manimekalai TamilVandhaayaa Magale VandhaayaaG. Ramanathan

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