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.

Back to Janakiamma. This short note owes its origins to an hour long journey in pouring rain through my beloved city, trying to cover 4 kms to get home, and found myself shuffling through to listen to these songs from my portable music player. As I reached home, I realised that the rain, surprisingly can be a welcome affair, on a dreary, tired, soggy evening, when all you are aching for is your familiar couch in the corner of your cluttered living room. So here are the ones who kept me company. On afterthought, this and the rest of the thousands that she has rendered, any song could stand in to make you forget your discomfort. All you have to do is close your eyes and listen to the Voice.

Bhargavee Nilayam (1964)

Bhargaveenilayam was the first ‘indigenous’ ghost movie according to what I can gather. Till then, ghost and vampires would turn out to be actual people in the end, but this was the Real Mc Coy. S Janaki’s voice, the ethereally beautiful Vijaya Nirmala as the ghost and Vincent’s B&W frames. Perfect.

Pottatha Ponnin Kinavu
Music : MS Baburaj
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Pareeksha ( 1967 )

All the songs in Pareeksha (1967) were classic compositions – be it the lovely Pranasakhi Njaan or the taunting Annu ninte Nunakkuzhi amongst others, it was a feast for your ears. I love the rhythmic structure of this song, a slight departure from the usual density of Babukka’s compositions.

Avidunnen Gaanam Kelkkaan
Music : MS Baburaj
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Moodal Manju (1970)

Till date, I don’t have the faintest idea what the movie was. I have watched it three times. And everysingle time a new weird angle to the story pops up. But regarding the songs, I have NO Complaints. Just one word for it. Fabulous.  It was also Khanu Gosh‘s only BG score in Malayalam. Usha Khanna’s compositions were just marvelous.

Manasa Manivenuvil
Music : Usha Khanna
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Swapnam (1973)

Swapnam is one of my favorites – for Salilda‘s compositions and for Nandita Bose :-P. I never lose an opportunity to mention Swapnam in any relevant context, although this came naturally. Salilda with one of his best set.

Maathalappoo poloru
Music : Salil Choudhary
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Thulavarsham (1976)

There were 3 lyricists for the movie if my memory serves me right. Vayalar, P Bhaskaran and Chowalloor Krishnankutty, and two music directors, Salilda and V Dakshinamoorthy. Yamuney was written by Vayalar and set to music by Salilda. Gautam at Salilda.com mentions there is a Bengali version sung by Lata Mangeshkar, and it goes  Bhulonaa prothom se din. And Sridevi in her early years, BEFORE her nose job .

Yamune Nee Ozhuku
Music : Salil Choudhary
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Aniyatha Valakal (1980)

I guess this was the only movie Balachandra Menon and Shobha came together. I feel no one could have did justice to the soul of this composition than Janakiamma.

Orumayilpeeliyayi Njan
Music : AT Ummer
Lyrics : Bichu Thirumala

Oppol ( 1981 )

If you haven’t watched this yet, please do. MT meets KS Sethumadhavan meets MB Sreenivasan meets P Bhaskaran is not something to be missed if you love Malayalam movies. There are two compositions about Ettumanoor Temple from the yesteryears ( the other one in Kudumbam namukku Sreekovil), and both are close to my heart. But Janakiamma clearly seems to have the edge. This also got her a National Award for best Playback Singer.

Ettumanoor ambalathil ezhunnallathu
Music : MB Sreenivasan
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Alolam (1982)

This was an interesting combination, Kavalam Narayana Panicker and Isaignani  came together for Alolam, and this also had the two film versions of Kavalam’s popular folk compositions, Aalayaal Thara Venam and Ambathonpathu Penpakshi. The very reason that they were a part of the movie helped it to reach higher levels of popularity. With KR Vijaya  emoting Janakiamma’s sweet ‘lullaby’ to a Veena onscreen, would you need another excuse to press PLAY again? Veene veene veena kunje is mind-blowing !

Veene veene veena kunje!
Music : Ilaiyaraja
Lyrics : Kavalam Narayana Panicker

Ithu Njangalude Kadha (1982)

I have heard that this is composed based on Kaapi by Johnson Master, and it must be one of the reasons that makes it sound all the more alluring. Swarna mukiley is just beautiful, and so apt, if you are looking forward to a cheery sky.

Swarna Mukile Swapnam Kaanaarundo
Music : Johnson
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Ahimsa (1982)

AT Ummer serves up a deadly combination of rhythm and melody – I have two favorites in this movie, the seductive Kaattu tharattum picturised on Sapna and Ratheesh is the other one.  Perfect on an acoustic guitar.

Jalasankhu Pushpam
Music : Johnson
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Aaroodam (1983)

Another interesting combination of Kavalam and Shyam . Shyam received his Kerala Stae Film Award for Best Music Director for Aroodam, and S Janaki also received the Best Playback Singer for her overall contribution for that year. I strongly believe this composition must have been one of them that got the judging committee reaching for the buzzer.

Kaathirippoo ..Kunjarippoovu Verum Poove
Music : Shyam
Lyrics : Kavalam Narayana Panicker

This last one was unavoidable.

Thamburu (1983)

MSI also has an alternate title for this film – Naseema. I wish someone would share the story behind this unique aspect. There is also a sad after note when it comes to the actress, Rani Padmini, an upcoming , promising and popular actor of those times, and a staple ingredient in most of IV Sasi projects, met a ghastly death at the hands of her chauffeur for material gains. Her mother was also killed in the botched burglary attempt.

Ennittum Neeyenne Arinjillallo
Music : Johnson
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran

Look forward to your favorites.

8 thoughts on “S Janaki | 10 Songs for a rainy, lazy, laidback evening

  1. Whether she decides to decline the award or not, I am happy that she was selected for the award.

    Great selection, CM. One of my favourites of Janaki, is Mouname Nirayum Mouname from Thakara. Beautiful lines from Poovachal Khader and soul-rending music by the great MG Radhakrishnan.

  2. Hi CM

    Though late, I’m glad our government recognized he contribution and awarded the highest civilian award!! Bharath Bhooshan.

    Saw this write up just now. As you know I have a lot of catching up to do here….
    I loved your selection… All my favorites…. still if you ask me I have special liking for MSB and SJ combination….

    Thaliritta Kinakkal
    All the songs of Bhargavi Nilayam( Pottithakarna and Pottatha ponnin, Vaasantha Panjami naalil,
    Thaane Thirinjum marinum,
    Iru kanneer thullikal
    Sooryakanthi… the list will be unending… I always believed MSB composed his best for SJ

    For a rainy day I would prefer Mukile…to maanasa maniveuvil from Moodal Manju. Not that Maana manivenuvil or Unaru vegam nee are not my favorites!!!

    I can go on and on about my favorite singer. But I think will listen to these 10 beautiful numbers today since its a cool winter morning!!

    Thanks again CM

  3. Few days back I was discussing that S Janaki’s songs had a haunting effect. some songs never leave your mind after listening. One song that has caught me now is ‘Malar kodi pole’ (Vishu Kani ?)

    She has shown tremendous range while singing for young and old. A mention on the fast numbers in Kusruthikaatu as well. songs weren’t great, but that time people used to say that Janaki started to sing rap as well

    1. Hi Rajesh,
      It true what you said, about S Janaki’s songs having a haunting effect. It has to be The Voice, I believe. Also malarkodi pole, one of Salilda’s popular compositions also has its ‘elder sister’ in Hindi, Kanha Boley Naa, a duet with Manna Dey, which also has a bengali version, in the voice of the inimitable Sabita Choudhary. in fact, i was about to write something on that this week. 🙂 Why don’t you share your “Shuffle favourites?”.. Cheers, CM

    1. Prasanth, thanks! I can see that the love affair with Kaattathe kilikkoodu is an organically wholesome one at that :-P. Another one of Janakiamma’s fabulous renderings. Sigh..

      1. Hi Anu,
        Glad you liked it. As I have mentioned, that is just one of a gazillion combinations one can personally make from Janakiamma’s songs. Why not write in with your ten favorites on a rainy evening, and share it with countless other Janakiamma fans out there? 🙂 Thanks and look forward to it..regards..cinematters

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