It is a known fact that the legendary singer K.S. Chitra was introduced to Film Playback singing by Maestro Ilaiyaraaja. She even got the first national award for her debut song “Paadalenu Pallavaina” from K.Balachander's classical creation Sindhu Bhairavi (“Paadariyen Padipariyen being the original) and expressed many times that she learnt a lot from the Maestro during so many song recordings. Here is one such incident which reminds us about the great bonding Chitra shares with her mentor and a guide in singing- Ilaiyaraaja!
During the days when Chitra was just making a mark in Telugu Film playback singing, Ilaiyaraaja called her to sing the title song for a movie Kokila (1989). Chitra apparently had another recording of Malayalam composer Shyam on the same scheduled time . This was intimated to her well in advance and as it is a puja recording- it carries sentimental value also. Chitra got very nervous and requested Ilaiyaraaja that she would finish the puja recording first and then reach the studio by 11:30 AM. But sadly, when Chitra attended the puja recording, it got delayed till 12:15 PM. Chitra came hurriedly to the recording studio where SPB was also waiting as it is a duet song. SPB was waiting for the recording since 11:30AM! Chitra, who was just a newcomer then was terrified about the delay in reaching and right to the tense situation, Ilaiyaraaja got furious on the delay. Being a person who is very strict with respect to timings, Ilaiyaraaja started off in an angry tone saying when so many musicians and senior singer is waiting, how she could delay in time!
When the recording began, Chitra had to laugh for the first line after SPB sings the line “Kokila..Ko Ko Kokila”. But Chitra couldn’t laugh naturally because of the tense situation which happened just before the recording. To make things even sadder, she started crying! Takes went on, but Chitra couldn’t concentrate on the song!
Ilaiyaraaja felt very sad to see Chitra cry in the recording for the first time ever and consoled her saying she should never burst into tears and should be happy all the time. The Maestro tried to cheer her up saying one shouldn't lose heart that way and be stronger as an individual. He even gifted her a framed picture of Saint Thyagaraja which he does special puja regularly!
Chitra still has that memorable present in her puja room till date! We all know the number of phenomenal songs which came in the combination of Maestro and Chitra later.