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.  He was an alchemist who could whip up esoteric, magic sonic potions out of that blessed harmonium ( he was an exceptionally gifted singer too), and then before you knew it, you were on a magic carpet ride with him.

Baburaj, Abhayadev and P Leela in an undated recording session
Baburaj, Abhayadev and P Leela in an undated recording session

I can quite confidently say that there can be hardly anyone who has listened to Baburaj’s compositions atleast once in Kerala, at some point in their lives, and been touched, profoundly moved by it. Such was his power over simplicity in sound. Though the numbers come close to just a 100, if you look at the movies he composed music for, his contribution to the music culture in Kerala can never, ever be quantified. Nonpariel would be just an adjective that we could use. It just doesn’t do justice. What would also be gross injustice would be to pick 10 compositions that portray the range of his brilliant talent, his tonal explorations and joi-de-vivre. I just felt I need to share a few that refuse to leave me. There is always a part of it, playing at the back of your head, in your most bluesy, romantic and solitary moments. Its as if Baburaj’s compositions have a life and a will of their own.

Umma (1960)

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : AM Raja
Paalaanu Thenaanu..

If Minnaminungu (1957) , MSB’s debut film didn’t garner much attention, with Umma (1960) he just made good for everything. I have read that MSB got this project as Devrajan Master passed this one over due to the paltry remuneration he felt was being offered for the film. I have written about the other favorite of mine. Jikki’s Kadalivaazha Kaiyilirunnu here.

Thacholi Othenan (1964)

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : S Janaki and Chorus
Anjanakkannezhuthi..

Anjanakkannezhuthi, in Janakiamma‘s voice smolders with that subtle erotic tension and the expectations which atlast seems, sadly misplaced as the protagonist’s love of her life fail to turn up in the night. And P Bhaskaran‘s lyrics at times border on the downright earthy and so stripped of embellishments . 🙂

തൂശനില മുറിച്ചുവച്ചു തുമ്പപ്പൂ ചോറുവിളമ്പി
ആശിച്ച കറിയെല്ലാം നിരത്തിവെച്ചു
പുള്ളുകളുറങ്ങീട്ടും പൂങ്കോഴി കരഞ്ഞിട്ടും
കള്ളനവന്‍ വന്നില്ല തോഴിമാരെ ..
Oh..the sheer disappointment !

Bhargaveenilayam (1964)

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : S Janaki and Chorus
Vasantha Panchami Naalil..

Drool. Drool. Drool. Makes me go weak in the knees all the time. Every single composition of Bhargavee Nilayam is so perfect. I have written in detail about the movie here. You can read a separate post exclusively on the songs from the movie here.

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : Dr KJ Yesudas
Thamasamenthe Varuvan..

This will never be complete without this. Heck, this would be in any self-respecting Malayali’s list of Top 5 Malayalam Film Songs. I consider this and Praanasakhi njaan from Pareeksha (1967), my favorite twin-songs!  So, if you have never heard about this, now would be a good time to listen to  it for the first time ! I have dedicated a separate  post on this composition which you can read here.

Kaattuthulasi (1965)

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : S Janaki
Suryakaanthi..

Always, always manage to give me goosebumps. It is so simple and by virtue, so profound. Teasing a sunflower on the subject of her daydreams was a delightful way of broaching the subject and offering answers to one’s own questioning heart :). When Janakiamma sings about, “വെയിലറിയാതെ, മഴയറിയാതെ, വര്‍ഷങ്ങള്‍ പോകുവതറിയാതെ.. “, I wonder would anybody have the patience thresholds that match them ones 4 decades ago !

Anaarkali (1966)

Lyrics : Vayalar
Sung by : Dr Balamuralikrishna and PB Srinivas
Sapthaswara Sudha..

For trivia buffs, it would be gratifying to see Dr Balamurali Krishna singing playback for Dr KJ Yesudas, the actor ( sounds a bit disorienting, doesn’t it ? ) and PB Srinivas singing for LPR Varma. That aside, the song is an exquisitely crafted melody that makes me want to hear it once again, everytime I play it. You can even discern a playful rivalry as the two spar through the two onscreen musicians, but as I said, it is exquisitely crafted. A classic .

Udyogastha (1967)

Lyrics : Yusuf Ali Kecheri
Sung by : Dr KJ Yesudas P Jayachandran [ Thanks Anu !]
Anuraaga Gaanam Poley..

അനുരാഗഗാനം പോലെ, അഴകിന്റെ അലപോലെ, ആരു നീ.. ആരു നീ ദേവതേ…? ” Sigh ! The starry-eyed lover trying to explain in mortal terms, in the limited vocabulary he can express, on what  terms he could equate his lady-loves ethereal beauty! Swooning guaranteed.

Pareeksha (1967)

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : Dr KJ Yesudas
Praanasakhi njaan verumoru..

The sonic twin ( for me) to Thamasamenthe Varuvaan fron Bhargavi Nilayam. These two exist like two delightful bookends of a feeling that is beyond description. While the former describes the heart’s yearning to meet the love of his life, the latter goes a level from here, to his desire to personally bring everything that would make her happy, content and more lovely, in their new found togetherness. Such tenderness. With Baburaj, even emotions went jelly-kneed.

Anweshichu Kandethiyilla (1967)

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : Dr KJ Yesudas
Innaley Mayangumbol..

Khadeeja (1967)

Lyrics : Yusuf Ali Kecheri
Sung by : Dr KJ Yesudas
Surumayezhuthiya Mizhikaley..

I have a very personal memory associated with this song. This was one melody that invariably that used to make my mother blush as my father used to sing this invariably to her  in his smoky, pitch-perfect voice and I have heard that around the house more than once often. Equating your lady love’s kohld eyes to pining, honeyed  sunflowers isn’t something that she hears everyday. 🙂 This is one that grows on you.

And two more..

Midumidukki (1968)

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : Dr KJ Yesudas and S Janaki
Akaley Akaley Neelaakaasham..

Janakiamma’s vocals on soaring octaves that hovered somewhere above 7th heaven – I don’t think she had been traversed between such an octave range before in any composition. Every single nuance, inflection, variation as the duet soared, settled and again took flight is seared into my memory.

Moodupadam (1963)

Lyrics : P Bhaskaran
Sung by : S Janaki
Thaliritta Kinaakkal..

Is she sulking wearily as she sings, “പൂനുള്ളി പൂനുള്ളി കൈവിരല്‍ കുഴഞ്ഞല്ലോ, പൂക്കാരീ മലരിനിയാര്‍ക്കുവേണ്ടി..”, I have no idea. But the pace, the ‘texture’ and the flow of the song can only come from a set of fingers and keys which knows the shortcut to your soul.

Which are the ones that refuse to leave you?

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17 thoughts on “MS Baburaj | 10 Melodies that refuse to leave you

  1. have u guys heard the song ‘tharame tharame ‘ from laila majnu ? its so underrated … this along with thamasamenthe and pranasakhi are the 3 best compositions in malayalam acc to me ,, plz check out the song ,,,

      1. its my pleasure ,, am a big fan of the black and white malayalam era ,, happy to see so many guys out here promoting the same ,,
        “…നീലാകാശമേ നിന് നാട്ടിലുണ്ടോ ലൈലയെ പോലൊരു ലാവണ്യറാണി…” babukka ,, hats off ,,,

  2. Hello,
    You have now made me sweat! How can I choose 10 from the many gems?!! Your choice is so good, it made me weak-kneed! I would add the following:
    1. Nadigalil sundari yamuna (Anarkali)
    2. Ashrama pushpame (Forgot which movie…)
    3. Jeevitheshwari (Ladies Hostel) – I especially love the way Dasettan sings “thozhi…”
    4. Inakkuyile (again, forgot the movie, sung by P.B. Sreenivos)
    5. Velukkumbol kulikkuvan (Kuttikuppayam)
    6. Poove nalla poove (Palattu Koman) – this is an amazing composition – I especially love the slow percussion along with the song…
    7. Chandana Pallakkil (Palattu Koman)
    8. Neela koovula poovukalo (Collector Malathi)
    9. Parayan vaiyyallo (Bhagyajathakam)
    10. Ee chiriyum chiriyalla (Subaida – Baburaj himself has sung in this song!)

    Thanks,

    Vinod

    1. Dear Vinod
      Ashrama Pushpame is from the film Aaradhika and Inakkuyile from the film Kaattutulasi

      Regards

      Sajith

  3. Chandrabimbam Nenjilettum – Pullimaan

    Oru Kochu Swapnathin – Tharavattamma

    Paavada Praayathil – Karthika

    Aadyathe Kanmani – Bhagyajaathakam

  4. Almost coincides with my best of Babukka list 🙂 Like you said, he does know the short cut to your soul, doesn’t he? I would add Kadale, neela kadale to the list. These songs just rip away everything else and go straight to your soul… what you end up feeling is simply out of this world…

    1. Hi Alakananda,
      Well, what do you know 🙂 I had included that too, though from a different perspective in another post, which you can read here. Aha ! 😀 MSB was truly the Magic Fingers of his generations, and if the average Malayalam movie lover has him to thank for infusing Hindustani music to its sensibilities in a way that cwas simple and profound. Thanks for writing in. Hope to see more of you in these parts..regards..cinematters

  5. Well reading this post at exactly 12:45 after midnight and suddenly I want to hear these songs right now..What an effort, but you missed my favorite Baburaj song, thamarakumbilallo mama hridayam…To me that is the best song in Malayalam film…Well tastes differ, right?.. Also thanks for reminding me of “Hum se aaya na gaya”, Midnight and Talat mahmood, wow what a combination?

    Label: Never heard the song “sapthaswarasudha”….Will have to find one record now..Can’t wait to hear that one too..

    1. Dear Jayanth,
      Anytime is a good time for MSB 🙂 Well, about Thaamarakkumbilallo..that would be part of another 10 favorites, I suppose, and then another 10.!About Sapthaswarasudha, the movie Anarkali is available on the crappy VCD format, if it is any consolation, and you can buy it here. It seems to be out of stock, but you can program a reminder with them.. Happy viewing..regards..cinematters

  6. A couple more – Ikkareyanente Thamasam and Oru Pushpam Mathramen. Regarding the twin songs, for some unknown reason, each of the song reminds me of the other too. I am not sure why but Thamasamenthe Varuvan and Pranasakhi probably have something in common, I assume..

  7. Thank you! Refreshed so many memories!! I have been listening to each of the songs you posted and enjoying the melodies. And I kept thinking of all the other songs of his that I like! So many songs, so little time to listen as we please…

    One slight quibble:Anuraaga gaanam pole is not sung by Yesudas. 😦

    1. This is the point where I kick myself hard. Have corrected it. *&^%$##@@. Thanks for pointing it out. As you rightly said, so many songs, so little time. And regarding the documentary, the word is out in the bush telegraph..regards..cinematters

  8. Brilliant ensemble, Cinematters, Hats off for skillfully infusing these pearls & jewels..
    will defenetly go back home and listen to my Babukka CD tonight.
    thanks
    Craving thoughts

    1. Dear Sreejith,
      Do return and share your favorites from your favorite Babukka compilation CD set. And isn’t it high time to get those Tabla fingers back in action ? :)..thanks for writing in..cinematters

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