Lullabies from old Malayalam cinema | My Favorites -1

Padmini and Sathyan in Snehaseema (1954)

Lullabies, sadly, is yet another genre that seems to have more or less died out from Malayalam cinema, or for that matter Indian cinema as a whole. Maybe it is a reflection of the current era that hankers on relationships sans the added bonds of unconditional affection and love. It must also have something to do with the increasing levels of instant gratification rather than soaking in the mellowness of filial warmth. There is also a deeply personal reason behind sitting down and recollecting the ones that made your eyes misty and your heart wistful. Yours truly has now a bundle of joy to sing these to, ( the protests on the horrendous levels of pitch, timbre, octave and tone of yours truly will come from the present listener years later, am sure ) but for now I am left without a choice :). As I started jotting down the ones that let you comfortably set sail to your own wonderful land where “you could ride a rainbow to a place with a golden gate where the fairies all wait, have  dancing moons, meet  mermaids who sing as they comb their hair and then catch a falling star to take the next ride ” – I realised, as with all other favorite compilations, the list just kept on growing. I have tried to narrow it down to two sets, the first of which is here, the next to follow up soon.

1.Kannum Pootti Uranguka

Film : Snehaseema (1954)
Lyrics : Abhayadev
Music : Dakshinamoorthy
Sung by :  P Leela and A M Raja

Though the screen adaptation was Ponkunnam Varkey’s short story, Vijay ji points out the movie’s close resemblances to more than three literary works from the West, main one being Enoch Arden, but Swamy’s melodies and the storyline seems to have made up for it as a fabulous piece of 50′s cinema. I look at Sathyan joining in with the mother’s lullaby and wonder, about the portrayed patience and affection – even though he looks a little rough around the edges. Truly, a masterpiece. Padmini glows.

2.Paattu paadi urakkam njan

Film : Seetha (1960)
Lyrics : Abhayadev
Music : Dakshinamoorthy
Sung by : P Suseela

This was P Suseela’s debut in Malayalam playback singing, and it couldn’t have been more heavenly than this. Though most of the other compositions were industrial translations from the original Ram Rajya (1939), this lullaby seems to have been an original one as I have not yet come across any reference of this being an inspiration yet. I am yet to watch the movie and hence am a little confused as the lullaby is addressed to a single person though the story is about Seetha raising up Luv and Kush at Sage Valmiki’s hermitage – this must have been to either Luv or Kush then ( I am speculating here).

3.Kanmaniye karayathurangu nee

Film : Karthika (1968)
Lyrics : Yusuf Ali Kecheri
Music : M S Baburaj
Sung by : S Janaki

The movie had a Happy version and a Pathos version of the same composition, though I wonder whether it makes good sense for any mother would pour out her grief to her little bundle of joy, when the whole exercise is to make the baby sleep peacefully. As usual, with Janakiamma, all you have to do is sit back and close your eyes.

4.Ambadi Thannilorunni

Film : Chembarathi (1972)
Lyrics : Vayalar
Music : G Devarajan
Sung by : P Madhuri
It starts off as an evening hymn of praise about Lord Krishna but it doesn’t take take much time to transform into the lilting lullaby to any adorable darling who refuses to close his/her eyes and sleep. Devrajan Master’s composition is exceptional, and coupled with P Madhuri’s voice, this is another aural experience for any avid listener.

Here is an attempt at translation of the lullaby, done at the insistence of one of OMC’s readers.

There is this li’l darling at Ambadi
anjanakkannanaamunni
The little one has kohl rimmed eyes
unnikku nettiyil gopippoo
His sandal paste applique resembles a blossom on his forehead,
unnikku mudiyil peelippoo
And his peacock feather hair adornment accentuates it
(ambaadi….)

unnikku thirumaaril vanamaala
The Lil One’s garland is from his favorite jungle blooms
unnikku thrukkayyil mulamurali
And he never parts with his flute from his side
(unnikku…)
arayil kasavulla peethaambaram
The gold-threaded yellow tunic shines like an adornment
aramani kingini aranjaanam
Making music with the tinkling bells on his waistband
unnee vaa unnaan vaa
My sweet darling, your food is ready
kannanaamunnee vaa
Come right now, right away
(ambaadi….)

unnikku kanankaalil paadasaram
The Lil One has tinkling anklets that sing
unniikku poomeyyil harichandanam
And his tender girth is swathed in sandalwood paste
(unnikku…)
viralil pathilum ponmothiram
Each finger proudly shows off a delicate ring each
tharivala manivala vaidooryam
In addition to the assorted adornement, diamond-encrusted
unnee vaa urangaan vaa
My Sweet Darling, its time to Sleep
kannanaamunnee vaa
Come to bed, come right away

unnikku kalikkaan vrundaavanam
All of Vrindavanam is for my lil on’es frolicking,
unnikku kulikkaan yamunaajalam
And Yamuna River is his favorite bathing place,
(unnikku….)
olikanpoo chaarthaan sakhi raadha
Lil Radha is his favorite companion for his tomfoolery,
yadukularaagini priya raadha
The very same Radha, from the Yadu lineage
unnee vaa unarthaan vaa
My Sweet Darling, be there to wake us up tomorrow morn,
kannanaamunnee vaa
Be there, my darling lil one.
(ambaadi….)

5.Unnikai Valare Valare

Film : Punarjanmam(1972)
Lyrics : Vayalar
Music : G Devarajan
Sung by : P Leela

Punarjanmam, based on the case diaries of Professor AT Kovoor, was a psychological thriller, probably, the first of its kind in Malayalam Cinema – long before we clicked open the Manichithrathazhu :). There was another composition, sung by CO Anto, picturised on Adoor Bhasi and Bahadur taking Master Raghu out on a pram and singing to him, called Kaakkem Kaakkedey kunjum, which is equally endearing. You can listen to it here. Unnikkaye Valare aptly captures the ‘fond impatience’ in the young parents’ hearts, wanting to see their baby grow up in the fastest possible way – its as if they just cant wait to see him/her grown-up, and within this short span of time, I can perfectly relate to what P Leela sings ! :)

6.Aaraaro aariraaro

Film : Aaradhana (1977)
Lyrics : Bichu Thirumala
Music : K J Joy
Sung by : KJ Yesudas, S Janaki

From Madhu‘s home production, starring himself and directed too. Probably KJ Joy‘s most famous and popular composition in the genre, you just couldn’t pry yourself loose from that terribly infectious pallavi. And it was so simple and sweet that you just couldn’t wait to sing it to your little bundle of joy.

7.Malarkkodipole

Film : Vishukkani (1977)
Lyrics : Sreekumaran Thampi
Music : Salil Choudhury
Sung by : S Janaki

No, I don’t mind that Salilda took his dulcet composition from 1973, Kichhu aar bhalo laagey na sung by Sabita Choudhury, which also appeared in its Hindi avatar in the unreleased Hindi movie Sangat (1976), sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Thankfully, we get this brilliant version in Malayalam and that too as a lullaby, thanks to Sreekumaran Thampi. What more can one ask for?

8.Unni Arariro

Film : Avalude Ravukal (1978)
Lyrics : Bichu Thirumala
Music : AT Ummer
Sung by : S Janaki

I still have this feeling that AT Ummer either conveniently mashed up a couple of tunes generously ‘borrowed’ from Hindi or took a single tune tune and decreased the tempo but so far haven’t nailed the originals. ( The original has been found and you can read about it here.)Regardless, there are few lullabies that come close to this in terms of emotions that you just lose yourself in S Janaki‘s voice. Sigh.

9.Kanmani penmaniye

Film : Karyam Nissaram (1983)
Lyrics : Konniyur Bhas
Music : Kannur Rajan
Sung by : KJ Yesudas

Balachandra Menon. Period :)

10. Alliyilam Poovo

Film : Mangalam Nerunnu (1984)
Lyrics : MD Rajendran
Music : Ilaiyraja
Sung by : Krishnachandran

This movie is on my must-watch-films for May 2011 if I can get hold of a copy sooner – Nedumudi Venu‘s character is the main reason. I just have to find out what happened to that ‘father and that lovely daughter.’ The music is by the Isaignani, and its no surprise that this sparse and rustic tone shakes you to your roots.

Next : Omanathinkal kidavo and other favorites

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16 thoughts on “Lullabies from old Malayalam cinema | My Favorites -1

  1. CM
    Just happened to see this post. A lot of songs in this genre are getting disappeared. You may be knowing the famous Oonjaale Ponnoonjaale (Film Aadya Kiranangal) sung by P Leela. The percussions stops at the anupallavi and charanam and who can just forget the soothing effect of the song?
    Similarly Thankam Vegam Urangiyaal (Film Udyogastha), Kannanamunni Urangu (Film Chettathi), Ini Urangu (Film Vilakku Vaangiya Veena), Appam Venam Ada Venam (Film. Thacholi Othenan), Oonjaala Oonjaala (Film. Veendum Prabhaatam) Taaraka Poovanam arinjilla (Film. Jwaala) Amma tan Kanninamrutam (Film Maya) Pamba Aarin Karayilallo (Kuttavaaly), Urnangoo Onnu Urangoo (Film Missi) Kunnum purathoru Minnalaattam (Film Tettu) are some of the superior melodies that live across generations in this genre.

    Thanks

    B Sajith

    • Dear Sajith,
      Thank you, as usual, for sharing these treasures that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. As you rightly mentioned, lullabies sadly are slowly getting relegated to memories, and maybe, at some point of time in the future, this would all be what is left of it. Thanks, cinematters

  2. i was searching 4 lullabies for my baby girl ….here is the superb collections ….the words you wrote are really marvelous ………keep up grate work ……..thank you very much for your effort …..

    • Dear Shibu,
      Thank you for passing through. Glad that this lil compilation helped a bit in your search for those perfect lullabies for your little princess. Thank you for your kind words. Hope to see more of you in these parts. Will post the second set very soon. Regards..cinematters

  3. Lovely collection…keep up this great work.
    And abt the movie, Mangalam Nerunnu..it is a must watch..such great performances from Madhavi and Nedumudi Venu..There is another song in this ..my favourite..i can listen to it over and over again a hundred times ..ridhubheda kalpana…charutha nalkiya..

    • Dear Shama,
      Glad that you liked the compilation. I have been actively exploring and trawling the Web to get a legal copy of the movie but so far, no luck. If you know of any online market places that have a copy, please do let me know. I only hope against hope lullabies doesnot end up as something alien to generations of the future. That would be heartbreaking. Thanks again for passing through. Regards..Cinematters.

      • cinematters

        i do not know of any sites that have a copy of this movie, but i have watched it a couple of times in Kairali TV – they usually telecast such nice old movies in the morning

        • Hi Shama,
          I was inquiring about buying off from any media marketplaces online like Maebag.com. Will certainly try checking up on Kairali program schedule for a rerun. Thanks so much..Regards..cinematters

    • Hi Sapna,
      Glad that you loved the songs. Though the current offerings are few and far in between, there is a treasure trove of them in the early years of Malayalam Films. There are a couple more that I love and I keep discovering hitherto unheard ones regularly and would surely put them out here. Hope to see more of you in these parts :) Thanks again..Cinematters

  4. Hi Suneetha,
    Unnee Vavavo is from Santhwanam and I guess it was Meena’s debut in Malayalam cinema. As I had followed the chronological pattern, I sure have that for the next set, and a host of others from the 90′s till present. By Munna, I guess you mean Mulla? Hope you know that its a blatant ripoff of the Portugese movie Tsotsi (2005). Will have also covered..Thanks..Cinematters

  5. I think the number of songs itself has undergone a reduction and the lullabies came down in proportion. But there ARE good ones too these days. I have my favourite in Unee vavavo…in both the male and female voices…I forget the film title but its Suresh Gopi singing one and Meena singing the other. Then the song in Mulla is lovely.. Kannin vathil charathe kanna ninne kandotte…

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