That was my "16- Vayadhinile" period ! The year being 1976 !
First time I heard the “Machaanai Paartheengala” in a musical programme organized for the Mariamman Festival of my village (Tharamangalam of Salem District). Usually it’s a week long festival every year where the whole village has nothing to do except participating in the festival with guests and relatives. The schools are also declared holidays for a week !
Every night of those 7 days are ear-marked for some variety programmes like Nadaswaram, drama, devotional music, film music etc. At this age I could not recollect which orchestra performed that song, but I “heard” that was a hit song of that year in Tamil Nadu.
When I say I “heard”, it’s a fact and I am not exaggerating; my attention to Raja was only to that limit ! When I heard first time "Machhanai Paartheengala", even I was not fully aware that song was by Raja ! CSR and so Indifferent to IR ??!! That was true !
I have to digress a little bit to explain all these !
My initiation into film music in a serious way, to be specific, in Hindi film music (HFM) was from way behind 1968 or 1969! Though I used to hear all those Tamil film music songs of that period in the radio, I was not an addict to TFM. I remember the regular fight for radio between me and my sister/other family members with my choice being for Hindi Ceylon and their choice being obviously Trichy / Madras and Tamil Ceylon stations etc !
My initiation to TFM was due to my uncle Ramakrishnan (TVR) who was then a school teacher in Mettur and was a part of the local orchestra team of Mettur Chemicals.
But it was Sankar (my sister Usha’s husband) (who was studying in various schools of North Arcot district) who was the main reason for my sustaining & growing interest in TFM. He was an ardent SPB fan. He regularly introduced me the SPB-MSV hit songs etc of those period say early 1970s. We used to meet occasionally during our school vacation holidays. That was the time for analyzing and discussing our likes and dislikes of various Hindi and Tamil film songs.
It’s the vacation holidays of 1976 which I can recall as the starting point of my association of Raja’s musical memories!
As usual, Sankar was at my village for annual holidays. The way Sankar explained with enthusiasm about Raja’s initial few films, had made some strong impressions in my mind about Raja being the young new comer in TFM. Slowly some of the songs like Oru Naal unnodu oru naal, Kettele ange, Poo vizhi vaasalil etc and other songs of Annakili all got some place in my mind.
However, the HFM still remained a strong preference even though the declining standard of HFM with fading away of RD Burman, Laxmikant-Pyarelal, etc were worrying me a lot at that time.
With this background, the inevitable or fate or destiny whatever you may call it, that happened!