KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs -1

This series is dedicated to Richard. :)

I don’t think there has been any other theater movement or for that matter any movement in any state in India,  that has entertained, and with it sown the seeds of social rethinking and transformation the way KPAC (Kerala Peoples  Arts Club) did for Kerala. I guess along with the central theme of the subjects that stalwarts like Thoppil Bhasi chose for the productions, the songs composed by the popular team of ONV-Devarajan was a big draw that brought people to watch them. Even though the compilation from HMV of KPAC’s drama songs is now on CD, I can never thank those audio engineers enough for leaving the hiss, the scratches and the rumble intact. All I have to do is close my eyes, and its as if KPAC Sulochana is right there on stage, rocking the stage with Cheppu kilukkana changathi ( from Mudiyanaya Puthran, 1960) . In an interview with The Hindu in 2005, Devarajan Master has shared some interesting details on the efforts that went in to produce the compilation.

To cash in on the popularity of the drama songs of KPAC, HMV decided to bring out discs and all the songs were recorded at their studio in Chennai. The studio room was very small. They did not have a dedicated orchestra and used to call the artistes for each recording session.The duration of the HMV discs was 2.55 minutes and I had to record an abridged version of `Ponnarival ambiliyil… ‘ to include it in the disc. While recording these songs I remember Soundrarajan, P. Leela and other singers waiting for their turn in the studio. After recording the film songs at the studios, the singers used to rush to the HMV studio and record it again for the disc, he remembers.

Although there  have been around 50-odd productions that have come from the house of KPAC, none has achieved the popularity nor evokes nostalgia like the ones from the early years. And there has been a handful of the dramas that have seen their screen versions as well, and have been quite successful there too.  More about that later.

Regarding the compilation, there were 12 songs, basically pulled out from their 5 theater productions, Mudiyanaya Puthran, Ashwamedham, Ningal Enne Communistakki, Visharikku Kaatu Venda and Kathirukaanakkili. Surprisingly the last two DO NOT feature in KPAC’s offficial list of productions as displayed at their website!

1.Mudiyanaya Puthran.

Lyrics : ONV Kurup | Music : G.Devarajan.

1. Chillimulam Kaadukalil Sung by : KS George.
2. Cheppukilukkana Changathi Sung by : K.Sulochana
3.  Ambili Ammava Sung by : K.Sulochana
4. Thunjanparambile Thathey Sung by : G.Devarajan.

2.Ashwamedham

Lyrics : Vayalar | Music : MB Srinivasan.   K Raghavan

1. Paambukalku Maalamundu Sung by : KS George.
2. Thalaykku meethey Sung by : K.Sulochana andKS George.

3.Ningal Enne Communistakki.

Lyrics : ONV Kurup | Music : G. Devarajan.

1. Vellaaram Kunniley Sung by : K. Sulochana
2. Ponnarivaal Sung by : G. Devarajan
3.  Maarivillin Thenmalarey Sung by : K. S. George
4. Vallikkudilin Ullilirikkum Sung by : K.Sulochana and K.S.George

4.Visharikku Kaattu Venda.

Lyrics : Vayalar | Music : G. Devarajan.
1.  Bali kudeerangaley Sung by : K. S. George

5.Kathirukaanakkili

Lyrics : Vayalar  | Music : G. Devarajan.
1.  Chakkarapanthalil ~
Sung by : A. P. Komalam

KPAC was instrumental in nourishing the Malayalam Cinema in the early years too as some of the greatest creative partnerships starting with ONV-Devarajan started from there. Not to forget Ramu Karyat who would go on to make Chemmeen, O. Madhavan, Sai Kumar, Oduvil Unnikrishnan, KPAC Lalitha, KPAC Sunny , the list goes on.  KPAC undoubtedly, will always be  deeply ingrained in Kerala’s socio-cultural soulscape.

Related :KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs-2.

Related :KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs-3

Related :KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs-4

Related :KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs-5

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16 thoughts on “KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs -1

  1. I am born and brought up in Mumbai, it had its advantages and pitfalls. These were some of the songs we have grown up hearing, being hummed by our parents. Now that we can hear them in its fuller version and enjoy it, i feel i have gaind immensely as a malayalee. unfortunately, our’s is a dying langaage, as with education very few of us feel proud to speak this most difficult and wonderful language. The generation of 50 and 60’s who have left kerala, were not very keen to teach this language to their children and were busy with their careers and making their ends meet. All this contributed to the inability of their children to understand the richness of this language and they were alianated from their roots. of late I see this happening in Kerala too, hope our language does not become a dead language like Sanskrit.

    • Dear George,
      That is interesting, as all the archival documents that I have personally seen,along with the books I have on KPAC, mainly the ones by Dr. Vallikkavu Mohandas ( KPACyude Charithram), KPAC Sulochana’s Arangiley Anubhavangal, Thoppil Bhasi’s Oliviley Ormakal, Adv G Janardana Kurup’s Ente Aatmakadha all refer to it as the Kerala Peoples Arts Club. Their website, which they have revived now also refer to it as the same. It might have been that it was an informal term of reference till the Society got registered, and I would love to hear that part of the story. KPAC is another of my passionate subjects and have been compiling information on them to make an online webpresence as a sort of tribute as the current website they have is woefully inadequate. I also have had the pleasure of meeting with Adv Shahjahan, the current Secretary, over the last year,who had been extremely generous with extending his assistance in sharing archival data and facts on this legendary institution. Look forward to this interesting nugget too. Thanks..cinematters

        • Dear George,
          As I mentioned in the reply to your previous note, are there any archives or interviews that you have in your possession that speaks about this part of the story ? Though there are three versions as to how KPAC was founded, it all centers around the personalities involved in the founding of this great institution, from what I have researched, and all of them are absolutely clear when it came to the name of the movement – Kerala Peoples Arts Club. The most widely accepted one speaks about its genesis at the Law College in Ernakulam through a tightly knit group of brilliant students who were fast friends and political activists – Adv Janardhana Kurup, Punalur Rajagopalan Nair, Issac Thomas and S Prabhakaran Nair. O Madhavan’s memoirs ( KPAC yude Balyam) places the action at Trivandrum, with the same participants but also includes Prof MP Paul and Adv Rajamoni.Even ONV Kurup’s version of the founding days agrees that it was at Trivandrum that it was founded, but clearly mentions the name as Kerala Peoples Arts Club, from the transcript of his memorial speech given at the Theater camp at KPAC. The theater body was founded in 1950, it was registered only in 1967 under the registration, A 4/67 as per the Minutes of the General Body Meeting of KPAC held on June 11, 1967. KPAC’s ‘inseparable’ connection with Kayamkulam, in the form of its premises came only in 1973, although there were many from the area who were an integral part of the movement like Thoppil Bhasi and Kesavan Potty. KPAC Lalitha made her debut in Mooladhanam in 1963, 13 years after founding of the movement and their 7th theater production. It is in light of these that I am really eager to know about how KPAC got mis-represented to be Keralal peoples Arts Club rather than its original Kayamkulam Peoples Arts Club. Thanks ..cinematters

    • Hi Sujith,
      Completely agree with you. Otherwise we wouldn’t be listening over and over the compositions that were brought to life 5 decades ago..!Thanks for writing in..Regards..cinematters

  2. Hi, there. Thank you for the dedication :) , and it’s great to see that you started your series on KPAC. It’s pretty late in my area right now (even for me), so I’ll have to get to more of this after some sleep, but I have already noticed that you’ve found some good links that, for some reason, I couldn’t get to or locate when I did my KPAC posts. On top of that, in the second installment, I see a bunch of song clips. Oh, I am definitely looking forward to this!

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