The Gemini Studio boss and Indian movie mogul, S. S. Vasan invited
Pattammal to sing for his 'intellectual film' " Miss Malini" (1947).
Based on a story by R. K. Narayan and directed by Kothamangalam Subbu
the film had the noted bi-lingual star and 'oomph' girl of her day,
Pushpavalli in the title role. (Hindi film star Rekha is her
daughter.) She plays a poor woman who is forced to go on stage to
keep the home fires burning and to look after her sick father. Thanks to
a friend (M.S. Sundari Bai ) she is asked to take a singing test by
the stage director ('Javert' Seetharaman in his first film). She sings
a song for the audition in pure Classical Carnatic style. " Sri
Saraswathey Namosthuthey.". Vasan had the song sung by Pattammal and
recorded and paid her a high fee never ever before given to a singer.
However Vasan did not use the song in the film! Why not? There by
hangs a tale, an interesting one at that!
An explanation was given by Vasan years later in chat with this writer-
‘The character Malini is a poor woman who out of poverty is forced to
seek a livelihood by going onstage. Her father is unwell and she has
no money to buy medicines for him. So she takes the test and sings the
song. A person of such background in such a difficult situation will
feel nervous and even scared. And Malini is not a trained musician.
Such a woman could not be expected to sing with such class, perfection
and brilliance which Pattammal definitely had and revealed in her
singing. Malini could never sing like that! That was the reason I did
not use Pattammal's rendering and got a regular playback singer, T. V.
Ratnam to sing that song!’. A convincing explanation from a serious filmmaker.