She was born at Trichy in 1907 on the wrong side of the tracks in abject poverty. As the legend goes she was left with no option than to resort to begging, singing for alms and copper coins in running trains in and around Trichy
Indeed if a move song which became a popular with this class of beggars it came to be known in Tamil as 'Picchakaran pāttu!' (songs fit for beggars!) One such song ‘ ayyA siru pEN Ezhaiyin pAl…’ " sung by the well-known Madras socialite, singer and actress Tanguturi Suryakumari in the hit film " Adrishtam" (1939) was extremely popular with the begging class in South India.
Even as a little girl Sundarambal was blessed with the natural feel and flair for music and possessed an excellent voice. Her voice had an astonishingly wide range absolutely fascinating even though it was totally untrained. It was so malleable that she could reach high octaves with seemingly effortless ease which even trained classical Carnatic musicians found it difficult to achieve. Dame Destiny smiled on the little girl when she was discovered while singing and begging on trains by a South Indian Railway official of Trichy, an amateur stage actor, impresario, talent - scout, and play producer, F. G. Natesa Iyer.
Natesa Iyer was thrilled to the core by the voice of the poor girl, her singing skills, and feel and fair for music. Without much ado he took her under his wing and introduced her to Tamil theatre. Success came seeking Sundarambal fast thanks to her musical talents. Her stage plays like "Valli Thirumanam", "Pavalakodi", "Harishchandra" and others were great hits during those days.
It was while she toured Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) that she met S.G. Kittappa.
The couple became a major draw and came to be treated soon as cult figures. Soon they took part in the Indian Freedom Movement and were ardent patriots and supporters of the Indian National Congress party..
கிட்டப்பா வாழ்விலும் விதி விளையாடியது.
27 வயதிலேயே கடுமையான வயிற்றுவலி. குடல் வெந்து ஈரல் சுருங்கி.....1933-இல் அகால மரணம் எய்தினார்.
சேதி கேட்டுத் துடித்த அந்த முருக பக்தை அன்று பூண்டாள் துறவுக் கோலம்..
யாருக்கும் ஜோடியாய் நடிக்க மாட்டேன் என்ற பல நிபந்தனைகளோடு, நந்தனாராக ஆண் வேடம் கட்டி நடிக்க ஒப்புக் கொண்டார்.
பின்பு, வரிசையாகப் படங்கள்.
மணிமேகலை, ஒளவையார், பூம்புகார், திருவிளையாடல், கந்தன் கருணை, துணைவன், காரைக்கால் அம்மையார், கடைசியாக திருமலைத் தெய்வம்.
ஏழுமலை இருக்க நமக்கென்ன மனக்கவலை?-ன்னு மனக் கவலையோடவே பாடிய அந்தப் பேதை உள்ளம்.....புற்று நோயால் 1980-இல் அணைந்து போனது.
This story is slightly different from that of Hindu story referred to below:
She was endowed with a very high-pitched, crisp and weighty voice that could effortlessly traverse three octaves. Her expression and pronunciation were crystal clear and exuded the bhava and rasa of the song...
An article by Shri. B. Kolappan...
" Driven by gruelling poverty in the early 1900s, a mother along with her three children was walking towards river Cauvery.
Realising where their journey would end, the eldest among the children, a girl, convinced her mother about the meaningless of ending their lives, arguing that they could overcome their ordeal one day. What would have drowned in river Cauvery was the rags-to-the riches story of Kodumudi Balambal Sundarambal, who went on to rule the world of music, theatre and cinema as K.B. Sundarambal. "
Some of her songs are linked below: