OK, this might be a compilation of the obvious, but I believe there would be a minority who still haven’t had pleasure of listening to all of them at one place, so here goes. This collection was also forgotten in the dusty archives till a phone call magically revived it. Thank you Binu. Though music doesn’t have boundaries is something we would always want to believe in, the world of playback singing is a cold, hard and cruel place to survive. Shifting loyalties based on market demands and at times personal agendas, (here is one raging right now) there are at times when sonic monstrosities are thrust down the timid movie fan’s throat just because the name behind the voice could ensure a few more lakhs in audio rights. Here is a compilation of the greats of Hindi playback singing, trying their hand at Malayalam playback, at times with eyebrow-raising results, but melodious and memorable, nevertheless.
Mohammed Rafi in Thaliritta Kinaakkal (1980)
Its curious when you have a Hindi song incorporated into playback for a Malayalam film.Delightful when its rendered by Rafi. It turns a bit strange when you have a second one in Hindi, rendered by KJ Yesudas for the Malayalam production! Binu Pappu shared an endearing slice of history on this song the other day.Sometime in the 50’s, just like most for whom music forms an undeniable source of energy, was this destitute, lanky lad, who adored Rafi and looked forward to meeting his icon in the flesh, for the upcoming concert that would be held at the erstwhile Mananchira Maidan. Without a penny in his pocket, he intended to gatecrash at any cost to listen to the legend, live. He did and was promptly hauled by by the organisers. A generous Rafi, inquiring as to what the ruckus was, requested the organisers to have the lanky lad be allowed in the front row for the concert, to which they grudgingly obliged. In a sweet twist of irony, the legend went on to sing a song for a Malayalam film to be picturised on a character played by a Malayalam actor Kuthiravattam Pappu, 3 decades later. Little did he know that it was the very same lad that he so generously allowed to be in, without a ticket for his concert in Kozhikode!
Song : Shabab Leke.
Lyrics : Aayish Kamal
Music : Jithin Shyam
Singer : Mohammed Rafi
Kishore Kumar in Ayodhya (1975)
Credit goes to the famed film producer Pavamani for getting Kishore da to sing this nonsensical composition in Malayalam. In a way, it perfectly reflected the manic side of Kishoreda, who was at home stringing up non-related, bizarre sonic bites with sheer chutzpah. I have wrote in detail about the song here.
Song : ABCD Chettan KD.
Lyrics : P Bhaskaran ( Lyrics? What Lyrics?!)
Music : G Devarajan
Singer : Kishore Kumar
Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar in Ayalathe Sundari (1974)
Well, you couldn’t exactly include this ‘technically’ in this compilation, but could do well on afterthought in an annexed cheat-sheet🙂 Hariharan incorporated SD Burman‘s classic duet from Aaradhana (1969), Kora kagaz tha on Adoor Bhasi and Sreelatha, with both of them re-enacting the classic scene on their own terms, in a full-fledged malayalam movie. The Hindi connections for the movie don’t stop there. It even had a track called Hema Malini, led by Jayachandran, with LR Eeswari , KP Chandramohan and Sreevidya joining in ! Well, with Shanker – Jaikishen as the music directors for the project, it wouldn’t have been surprising, don’t you agree ?
Song : Kora Kagaz tha
Lyrics :Anand Bakshi
Music : SD Burman
Singer : Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar
Talat Mehmood in Dweepu (1977)
This would have been fantastic, to compose a score for a music legend by another who looked upon the former for inspiration and with awe, and the latter responded with equal respect. Baburaj‘s composition for Ramu Kariyat‘s Dweepu (1977) had the plaintive, heart-wrenching ode to the desolateness of the blue sea in Kadaley, neela kadaley, sung by Talat Mehmood. Come to think of it, it has a reserved place in my MSB‘s all-time favorite list.
Song : Kadaley, neela kadaley
Lyrics : Yusuf Ali Kecheri
Music : MS Baburaj
Singer : Talat Mehmood
Manna Dey in Chemmeen (1965)
This has to be, in my opinion, the most iconic statement made through music by a Bengali in Malayalam cinema. Though a part of you cringes at the diction and the unintentional massacre of the syntax, the major part can’t help but be drawn into this powerful feeling of loss and unrequitted love in such soulful, simple harmony. Salil Choudhary seems to have nailed it in, sound, tone, emotion, singer and all. In a ‘terrible’ (?) twist of fate, KJ Yesudas got to sing the Bengali version of the song in the Uttam Kumar starrer Srikanter Will (1979) and shall we say, the intonation and the accent, according to my learned friends from Bengal, has it moments that are cringeworthy.
Song : Manasa maine Varoo
Lyrics : Vayalar
Music : Salil Choudhary
Singer : Manna Dey
The Bengali Version sung by KJ Yesudas
Asha Bhosle in Sujatha ( 1977)
You couldn’t blame Raveendra Jain for bringing in Asha Bhosle to Malayalam, considering the mellifluous rendering of Mankombu Gopalkrishnan‘s lyrics, though there seems to be a strong hangover of the shudh-Hindi intonation in the way she handles the words. ‘Swayamvar shubhdin’ sounds too strait-jacketed for an average malayal’s ears but you are only willing to forgive it for the joi-de-vivre she brings to the delivery. Powerful, exuberant and sheer joy, it is.
Song : Swayayamvar shubhadina
Lyrics : Mankombu Gopalkrishnan
Music : Ravindra Jain
Singer : Asha Bhosle
Lata Mangeshkar in Nellu
I still look for a place to hide whenever I listen to this Salilda composition. No, there is absolutely no question regarding the excellence with which it has been composed or for its timeless appeal, but having to sit through Lata Mangeshkar painfully traverse the unknown terrains of a language which is a formidable mountain to most makes you shudder. The systematic butchery of words is enough to make you weep. I have a written a bit about the song here.
Song : Kadali, Chenkadali
Lyrics : Vayalar
Music : Sali Choudhary
Singer : Lata Mangeshkar
Lastly, another one for the Cheater’ List
Kabhi Khamosh Rahte Hai (Replayed from Azad) in Thaskaraveeran (1957)