MS Baburaj | 10 Melodies that refuse to leave you

Umma (1960) Title Card If simplicity meant eternal elegance and grandeur, that would be speaking about Baburaj‘s songs. Baburaj’s melodies were the sonic equivalent of silk rustling across your face on a cool, pleasant evening, sitting out in the patio. It lulled you into a feeling of weightlessness and set off a handful of inexplicable emotions inside your heart you thought never existed. He did this mostly with a melody, a harmonium and mellow tabla for percussive effect. Baburaj must be credited with bringing the honeyed warmth of Hindustani to Malayalam playback singing and film music, and to which the land will remain eternally grateful.  Continue reading

S Janaki | 10 Songs for a rainy, lazy, laidback evening

Janaki.S As with any other legend in our film industry, its impossible to choose when it comes to our Nightingale of Celluloid, S Janaki, or fondly Janakiamma with all the respect that I can muster. Her voice  is like warm honey over a cold heart when it wants to be and like a comforting cloak on a windy evening.While on the subject, I just felt I need to mention about Dhool, a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the yesteryears of Malayalam playback singing amongst a host of other subjects. Sadly, it has been live but inactive since the past two years.

I have managed to write a note to the owner to keep it up forever. I sincerely hope he does. Continue reading

Christian Songs From Old Malayalam Films -3

Salil Choudhary had this amazing sensibility to really get under the skin of any genre of music that he was briefed to create according to the Director’s vision. Add to the sound tapestry that we are familiar with, when it comes to Salilda‘s contribution to Malayalam cinema, a Russian composition for Nellu (1974), and I would say the most perfect Christian harmonic church chorale I have ever heard onscreen was in Aparadhi ( 1977), Nanma Cherum Amma. It is also surprising that he never repeated that composition anywhere, maybe because it was so appropriate and unique, just perfect for that moment for that one film in Malayalam. I have had the misfortune to listen to countless versions ( really really horrible, terrible, scary covers) of the song available in the market, and I chuckle to myself when you realise that even with the latest cut-and-paste sound engineering magic in recording studios these days, NO ONE has been able to replicate the haunting harmony of the song! Continue reading

Umma (1960), the Meena Kapoor connection, and the Crow.

Umma (1960), was a movie that could be remembered for many reasons. The first mainstream Malayalam film that successfully integrated the Muslim social fabric into “the commercially existing family drama format” in Malayalam Cinema and made a high-voltage potboiler out of it. It also rescued Udaya Studios from going under, and saw the debut of  M.Kunchako as a director.

But it was the 12 songs (!) from the MS Baburaj – P.Bhaskaran team that I think made it all the more memorable, and amongst them, the funky Kadalivazha Kaiyyilirunnu sung by Jikky. Continue reading