I terribly miss those X’mas special Chithrageetham we used to have on DD Malayalam on X’mas eve, or the one following up to X’mas. It always had the same Christmas songs (more or less)from Malayalam Cinema, arranged/programmed the same way and it used to unerringly start ( with startling accuracy, if I may add) with Devadoothar Paadi from Kathodu Kathoram (1985). Christmas Songs in Malayalam Cinema (obviously used to denote the Season’s festive mood) usually filled in for the staple “Christian devotional song” in the movie or as another addition to the movie soundtrack. Its only a handful of ( a very meager handful, mind you) films that have used the song as an effective background for a turning point in the movie, something that reminds you at one shot about the movie and at the same time time a memorable melody. Here are a few that I recollect from the days when Chithrageetham was sufficient motivation to stay awake in the humid evenings and DD Malayalam was God’s own TV Channel. Enough said.
Song : Devadoothar Paadi
Movie : Kathodu Kathoram (1985)
Music : Bharathan and Ouseppachan
Sung by : KJ Yesudas and Chorus
Somehow this song’s powerful driving rhythm reminds me of those really groovy old Blues Classics ( think Blow Wind Blow or for that matter I’m Tore Down– its mostly the latter for me). It shouldn’t be surprising when you think about it now, when Ouseppachan recently revealed about who was behind the rhythm programming and the driving energy of the song – a lanky boy with magic in his fingers, who went by the name of Dileep ( AR Rahman) . It was the equally or more talented young chip of the illustrious old block, RK Shekhar whose brilliance was just about to unfold in the coming years. I guess it also explains the unique driving beats that lay on and on, like a gentle pile-driver :)
Song: Lathiri Poothiri
Movie : Nokkethadoorathu Kannum Nattu (1983)
Music : Jerry Amaldev
Sung by : KJ Yesudas, KS Chithra and Chorus
If you have not yet listened to this song , please crawl out from that rock under which you have been living all these years, please. Kerala just couldn’t get enough of humming Jerry Amaldev’s ‘churchy’ tunes – I guess it was the time the average Catholic woke up to the strength of those melody scales that put him to sleep on Sunday and sounded magnificent onscreen. The Christmas medley even had the most perfect local rendition, starting off with a melodic riff extract from O, Holy Night ( the Aaradhana part) and finishing off with appropriately, Silent night, Holy Night. I have not heard a more perfect composition that captures the magic of the original in any Indian language. And without Jerry Amaldev, I don’t think it would have ever happened.
Song : Sathyanayaka Mukthidayaka
Movie : Jeevitham Oru Gaanam (1979)
Music : MS Vishwanathan
Sung by : KJ Yesudas
One of those compositions that come with that oddly haunting aftertaste of events that are beyond the grasp of one’s mortal belief of the One Divine. This song is a part of my childhood years for another reason. I had this friend from my school days who couldn’t get past a word without stuttering and stumbling on it, and he was this lovable brat whom people actually waited upon patiently to finish when he started to speak. One day, during lunch hour, he suddenly stopped midway, listening to this song played from the Rectory nearby, and to our amazement, started singing without a hitch on any syllable.On scale, on tune, on time, pitch-perfect. He is a Tutor in Western Classical Music in UK, the last I heard. A beautiful composition by the legendary MS Vishwanathan with lyrics by Sreekumaran Thampi, I think this is also one of his handful Christian Devotional Songs.
Song : Kaalithozhuthil Pirannavaney
Movie : Sayoojyam (1979)
Music : KJ Joy
Sung by : P Susheela and Chorus
KJ Joy ! This song begins and ends with that moniker and I can go on and on. The one delightful aspect of most of KJ Joy’s compositions is the purely Western-flavored bass line that goes giving ample support to the melody section and being a melody in itself. The first line is just enough to generate goose pimples and sustain them till the end note. Truly, truly a fantastic way to celebrate the Christmas spirit! Also, checkout Urvasi, Kalpana and Nandu way back from 1979 !
Song : Deepamey
Movie : Unaroo (1984)
Music : Ilaiyaraja
Sung by : Krishnachandran, S Janaki, CO Anto, Chorus
This must be one movie Mani Rathnam woild never even want to be reminded even on his best days. His first and last Malayalam movie, and good Lord what a turkey it was! The song Deepamey celebrates the most essential part of X’mas, getting tipsy/hammered and there is Paravoor Bharathan, vertically challenged, delivering his part of the song, in high spirits ( It has to be CA Anto’s vocals). It is again a sonic tapestry celebrating the spirit of Christmas, during X’mas without actually spelling it out. Radical, but fun.
The song starts from 0:47
Song : Shaantharaathri Thiruraathri
Movie : Thuramukham (1979)
Music : MK Arjunan
Sung by : Jolly Abraham and Chorus
Adoor Bhasi as Santa ( probably the first and last time I guess) and lucky enough to lip-sync to a classic that is now staple of any X’mas Carol worth its black coffee and plum cake in Kerala’s carol circuit. MK Arjunan Master’s music also contributed to other popular hits from the movie too – Raavininnoru penninte, Oru premalekhanam and Kochu kochoru kochi, and not to forget Adoor Bhasi’s turning singer on two other songs ! The lyrics are by Poovachel Khader.
There is also this quaint little song that starts as Happy Christmas in Ormakkay (1982) sung by Krishnachandran
which am still looking around to get hold of a copy. Music is by Johnson. Its one of my favorite movies of Bharat Gopi, and specially the Bharat Gopi – Madhavi combo. Starts from 56:53.
Please do write in about the ones that you hold close to your heart.
Season’s Greetings, everyone.