Remembering MS Baburaj, on his birthday today

Umma Malayalam Film Title Card

It is so rare, no, pretty much impossible, to love all the creations of a musician. There is an exception. The great MS Baburaj. I would like to dedicate this to his memory.

A Bengali musician, Jan Mohammed, originally came to sing qawwalis at a wedding in Kozhikkode. He stayed, and married a lady named Fathima. A son was born to them on the 9th of March, 1921. They named him Mohammed Sabir. Who knew that that little boy born into an impoverished family would turn out to be the great Baburaj, beloved Musician of malayalees, who could create enchanting music through his magic fingertips. The first Malayalam movie for which he composed music was “Minnaaminungu” (The Firefly) in 1957. Very few recordings exist of this talented artist’s voice, in spite of the fact that he has sung before music lovers on thousands of stages. Here is a rare gem in Baburaj’s own voice from the movie Subaida, with lyrics by P Bhaskaran:

With P Bhaskaran.

Although he composed music in Malayalam movies with many lyricists, when the creative genius of MS Baburaj and P Bhaskaran came together it almost always magic. For example the song ” Aadyathe Kanmani” from Bhaagyajaathakam., probably the first song sung by Yesudas, with P Leela, under Baburaj. The great Sathyan and young beauty Sheela appears in the picturisation. Who cares about the boring studio setting when you can listen to Mum and Dad planning their soon-to-be small additions to their family. P Bhaskaran wrote most lyrics for Baburaj.

Adyathey kanmani from Bhagyajaathakam.

Unforgettable melodies like “Thaliritta Kinaakkal Than” from Moodupadam, “Pottithakarnna Kinaavu Kondoru”  – again from Bhaargavee Nilayam and “En Praana Naayakane”  from Pareeksha are all everlasting classics resulting from the MS Baburaj – P Bhaskaran – S Janaki combination.

Vijayanirmala in Bhargavinilayam (1964)

Speaking of  “Thaamasamenthe Varuvaan” which  is perhaps his most popular classic, sung by Yesudas for the movie “Bhaargavee Nilayam” and  penned by P Bhaskaran, Yesudas has mentioned that when he and the great Noushad met, Noushad enquired of Yesudas about this song and about its Music Director with much interest.

To Naushad, it was a song which he had listened with great delight  many many years ago and had captivated him. Yesudas was amazed when he heard this. Almost all songs from that movie are classic hits to this day.

Thamasamenthe Varuvan from Bhargavi Nilayam, sung by KJ Yesudas.

Other memorable songs from the prolific  MS Baburaj – P Bhaskaran team include “Innente Karalile” (P Leela) from Kuttukkuppaayam, “Thelinju Premayamuna Veendum” (Yesudas) from Manaswini and “Chudukanneeraalen”  (Udayabhanu) from the eternal love story Laila Majnu.

Innente Karalile  from Kuttikkuppaayam, sung by P Leela.

With Vayalar.

Although Vayalar penned only half as much lyrics as P Bhaskaran did for Baburaj, most of them were hits. Interestingly, this philosophical song was sung on screen by the lyricist himself – Vayalar Rama Varma. Ambika and TK Balachandran also appears in the clip. “Aadiyil Vachanamundaayi” – this is a direct quote from John 1:1 in the Bible – “In the beginning was the Word …”. The song is about difficulties and deceptions women face in life. MS Baburaj – Vayalar team created classic melodies like the dreamy “Pathinaaru Vayassu Kazhinjaal” (P Susheela) from Chettathi and the tragic “Kanaka Pratheeksha Than” (P Susheela) from Midumidukki.( Lyrics by  Sreekumaran Thampi – Thank you Sajith )

Baburaj could create magic no matter what the subject matter was – whether it be tragic like Iruttinte Aathmaavu, or light hearted comedies like Kandam Bacha Coat. Yesudas and S Janaki sung the most songs for Baburaj. here are a few of their immortal collaborations.

Thaliritta Kinaakkal  from  Moodupadam , by S Janaki

Pottithakarnna Kinaavu Kondoru from Bhargavi Nilayam, sung by S Janaki

En Praana Naayakane   from Pareeksha, sung by S Janaki

Kaalindi Thadathile Raadha from  Bhadradeepam, sung by S Janaki

The enchanting MS Baburaj – S Janaki combination remains one of the best collaborations in her career as a Singer, in my opinion.Most songs from movies for which Baburaj was the MD are eternal favourites – Umma, Mudiyanaaya Puthran, Bhaagyajaathakam, Laila Majnu, Bhaargavee Nilayam, Kuttikkuppaayam, Thacholi Othenan, Pareeksha, Manaswini, Anaarkkali, Koottukaar, Anweshichu, Kandethiyilla, Collector Malathi, Karthika, Laura Nee Evide – the list of hits continue. There are simply too many, it is impossible  to mention them all.

Baburaj passed away on October 7, 1978.  As the lyricist says in one of the last ever songs he composed for Yaagaashwam (1978), “Velicham Vilakkanachu, Raathriye Vennilaavum Kaivedinju” – Light has put out the lamp, and even moonlight has forsaken the night.

Birthday wishes Babukka, wherever you are.

22 thoughts on “Remembering MS Baburaj, on his birthday today

  1. Hello,
    Just came across this post about my all-time favorite Malayalam music director – Baburaj. Beautifully written, and I went through it with more than a tinge of sadness. I just love ALL his songs, and as you have rightly mentioned, it is extremely difficult to pick out a favorite. While his compositions for Dasettan are immortal, those with S. Janaki are sheer magic. The songs that immediately come to my mind: “vasantha panchami naalil (a simply amazing composition); “thamara kumbillallo”….. What about “manjadi kili myna”? Another beautiful composition, though not sung by Janaki! (Isn’t it sung by Jikki and Dasettan)? What about that beautiful song by Kamukara Purushottaman – “ekantadayude apara theeram”?

    Well, let me stop here, as I can get easily carried away by Babukka’s music!

    Vinod

  2. It is a wrong info that Babuka has born on March 29,1921…Actually his passport says that he was born in March 9 ,1929 …His wife also agrees with it.

  3. Babukka… entha parayaan. It is so true what you said about being unable to pick favorites from what he left behind. The simplicity simply amazes you till you try to sing his songs (at least when i try to sing them) Kadale neelakkadale and Surumayezhuthiya mizhikale… just two favorites off the top of my head. Always felt a tinge of sadness running deep within even the happiest of his songs… or maybe its just me.
    Thank you for this wonderful write-up.

  4. Maybe its me, but the one song that always amazes me from Baburaj’s repertoire is Paaavananam Aattidaya from Anweshichu, Kandethiyilla – the tangents that he shoots off from the main structure and then returns seamlessly with the same ease. Maybe its a childhood that was steeped in western chorale and gospel, but that song still gives me goosepimples. Baburaj’s songs have an endearing simplicity to me, a bare-functionalities approach – you could sit with a harmonioum and sing ( provided you knew how to play and could reasonably hold a tune ) every single song of his and it would still sound almost true to the original lyrical arrangement. The difference would only have been in the finesse. THAT, I think can come only from a maestro. I think that matters a lot, in having the dexterity making compositions that are so spartan and yet so profound. Thamasamenthe varuvan is a tune that you fall in love with a little more every time you listen to it. Or for that matter, Eeranuduthumkondu by S Janaki. Thanks so much Susie. ..cinematters

  5. Thanks Susie and Sajith.My first love with Malayalam songs begins with a few songs which used to haunt me in my childhood and I would keep on singing them in a bid to exorcise the urge.But as I grew up I was in for a constant surprise learning that most of those songs belonged to Baburaj!

  6. Babu raj.. I envy on you..What a completed life.This be a blessing life getting like you man.I proud to sing your song in college and my private life.

  7. Sajith
    Thanks for your detailed comments. Bhaarathappuzhayile Olangale is also one of my favourites 😀

    And you are right, Kanakapratheeksha Than was by Sreekumaran Thampi. Thanks for the correction. I must have made the mistake while typing up.🙂

  8. Dear Sajith,
    “Sir, you sure that Kanakapratheeksha Than of Midumidukki was written by Vayalar? i doubt it is by Sreekumaran Thampi. Has to check it ”
    You are absolutely right, it is by Sreekumaran Thampi. Thank you for pointing it out.. Have updated the content and informed Susie. Thanks..cinematters

    1. CM
      Salam Karasserry has written a book on Baburaj which contains a detailed writing on the great composer. Also Manorama Music released a cassette some 8 years back. A collection of film songs sung by Baburaj. These songs were sung by Baburaj accomponied by a harmonium for his friends. It includes Pranasakhi and 8 or 9 other songs. You heard it?

      Sajith

          1. Susie
            As you rightly pointed out, it was Jamal Kochangadi and not Salam Karasserry who compiled the articles on Baburaj. Thanks for the information
            Sajith

    2. CM
      May i add one more film of Baburaj. Its Priya directed by Madhu. I dont know who scored the background music for the film. But it was an excellent experience. There is a song in the film sung by Mahendra Kapoor… Bombay…. Bombay. Aadaanumariyam Kaamukahrudayathe Ammaanamaadanum Ariyam, Kanninu Kannaaya Kanna, Vinnile Kaavil Pularumbol, Kannonnu Turakku Deepangale are some of the other beautiful melodies

      Sajith

  9. I do agree with all that you wrote about the great Baburaj.
    During his later years he composed songs for films like Ladies Hostel, Sowndarya Pooja, College Beauty, Chuzhi,Anadha,Criminals,Raathri Vandi, Bhadradeepam, Njaan Ninne Premikkunnu to remember a few.
    His songs in Karutha Kai, Maayaavi, Kaattutulasi, Inspector, Anju Sundarikal, Paalattu Koman, Koottukaar,Ninamaninja Kaalpaadukal,Udyogastha, tommante makkal, Anweshichu Kandethiyilla, zubaida, Kuppivala,Ambalapraavu, Pullimaan etc etc are super compositions.
    Kaattaruvi Chilanka Ketti(Ladies Hostel), Hrudayathil Nirayunna (Chuzhi), Manasse Aaswasikku (Njaan Ninne Premikkunnu), Paalapoovin Parimalam (Karutha Kai), Kavilathe Kanneer Kandu (Anweshichu Kandethiyilla),eeranuduthum kondambaram chuttumee (Iruttinte Aatmaavu), Taane Tirinjum Marinjum (Ambalapraavu), Aayiram Varnangal (Pullimaan) etc etc are some of the hits of Baburaj – Janaki team
    A last point – kindly listen Bharatapuzhayile Olangale pazhayoru premakatha ormayille in the film Collector Malathi sung by Yesudas – A real Baburaj melody with the rich bhavam of the singer. Also listen Aapadachoodam panineeer (Sowndarya Pooja). The same slow melody with the Baburaj Flavour
    Sir, you sure that Kanakapratheeksha Than of Midumidukki was written by Vayalar? i doubt it is by Sreekumaran Thampi. Has to check it

    Sajith

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