Susie’s Favorites | Songs of Separation from Malayalam Films

KR Vijaya and Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair in Shakunthala (1965) The pain of separated lovers, and their desperate longing for each other have been the subject of poets and lyricists for centuries. Visual media like cinema brought popularity to these, and people empathised with the emotions. Cinema is almost always a reflection of real life. While passing through the mind of the poet, the lyricist, the musician, the singers, the actors, and the cinematographer, this  intense feeling of the pain of separation gets stamped with their individual interpretation. Finally, when it reaches the viewer or the audience, it becomes an unforgettable experience. Malayalam Cinema has given us many such songs of separation which have stayed in our memories for ever. I have included a few of my favourites here.

Centuries ago, Mahakavi Kalidasan created the story of Sakunthala, a young maiden who was brought up in a hermitage, who falls in love with  Dushyanthan, the  King. When Kunchacko made this into a movie of the same name in 1965, it gave us three classic Vayalar – Devarajan songs of separation which will live for ever in the Malayali heart. P Susheela sings the bitter-sweet “Priyathamaa, priyathamaa, Pranaya lekhanam engane ezhuthanam” asking her lover to teach her how to write a love-letter, as she is just an innocent girl who grew up in a hermitage.

Sankhu-pushpam aka Butterfly pea | Pix Rights : Sinu S Kumar

At the same time, the love-lorn  King Dushyanthan in his castle far, far away, is singing of his longing for Sakunthala. He is reminded, at every turn, of  Sakunthala;

when the shankhupushpam flower applies eye-liner,
when the full moon with its water-filled earthen pot
is watering the vanajyolsnas in the sky

Another song from the same movie, “Shaarikappaithale” is tinged with sadness, and also unforgettable. In the movie Kumaarasambhavam (1969),  Sree Parvathi goes in search of Paramasivan, singing  “Priya Sakhi Gangep arayoo, priyamaanasanevide?” An ONV-Devarajan creation, this song echoes in our hearts, even today, decades later.

When Seetha, separated from Sreeraman (Seetha, 1960) sings
ഒരുനാള്‍ തീ മല പൊട്ടിത്തകരും
ഒഴുകി വരും സഖീ ഭീകര ലാവ
വിരഹവേദനാജ്ജ്വാല പൊങ്ങും
എല്ലാം എരിയും…തകരും…

(Abhayadev-Dakshinamoorthi) we can feel the burning intensity of her emotions.

Another song which expresses feelings of intense longing is the song “Virahinee, virahinee, prema virahinee” from the movie Arakkillam ( 1967) penned by Vayalar and set to music by Devarajan.

Vidhi (1968) was a Hindi movie dubbed into Malayalam. Vayalar wrote lyrics to music by Laxmikanth-Pyarelal, and all the songs were super hits. However, some songs like “Jananangale Maranangale” have been lost for ever, which is a shame. I am given to understand that the Malayalam version of the movie does not exist now, which is a tragedy. The song “Priye, pookkukilley nishaagandhikal ” transports us to some magical world with the heavenly voice of Yesudas. The tearful search of the forlorn lover for his girl who laughs like a tinkling anklet is brought to us in the song from Velutha Kathreena (1968 ) “Kaattu Chempakam Poothulayumbol“, a creative combination of AM Raja, Sreekumaran Thampi and Devarajan.

Even though it sounds like a love-song, “Harsha baashpam thooki” , from the movie Muthassi (1971), sung by P Jayachandran (P Bhaskaran – Dakshinamoorthi) is a song of separation and longing.  Another sweet melody worth mentioning here, movingly sung by KP Brahmanandan for the movie CID  Nazir is “Neela nisheedhinee“, a Sreekumaran Thampi – MK Arjunan classic.
തേനൂറും ചന്ദ്രിക തേങ്ങുന്ന പൂവിന്റെ
വേദന കാണാതെ മാഞ്ഞൂ.

What beautiful poetic imagery in those simple lines!

The trio of S Janaki – P Bhaskaran – MS Baburaj have given us many many captivating and haunting songs of separation, which still makes us hum along. About the lover who never comes to receive the garland of dreams she has lovingly strung together, in  “Thaliritta kinaakkal than” from Moodupadam, and about love which transcends the barriers and even the inevitable fluttering wings of time , waiting for her lover, in “Pottithakarnna kinaavu kondoru” from Bhargavee Nilayam to mention a few.

The legend of the sunflower pining for the sun has inspired a few lyricists. “Sooryakaanthi Sooryakaanthi ” from Kaattuthulasi (S Janaki -Vayalar-Baburaj), Surumayezhuthiya Mizhikale  from Khadeeja (Yesudas -Yusufali Kecheri – Baburaj) are a few examples. Now my favourite of all – a duet of  separation by KJ Yesudas and S Janaki from the movie Ente Mohangal Poovaninnju – “Aashaada meghangal nizhalukalerinju”  with lyrics by Puthiyankam Murali, and set to music by the legend Dakshinamoorthi Swami.

Any write-up on lovers and separation will not be complete without mentioning the everlasting tale of love from the distant deserts of Arabia – Laila Majnu (1962). The songs from this movie reinforces the magical touch of the P Bhaskaran – MS Baburaj team.”Oru kula poo virinjaal” sung by Shantha P Nair, and “Virinja  Malare” sung by KP Udayabhanu brings to us the pain of separation.

The final words timeless lover Laila sings to his love Khais with desperate passion:
“വിധിയാകും കൊടും കാറ്റില്‍
വിരഹത്തിന്‍ കൊടും ചൂടില്‍
പറക്കും മൈന തന്‍ ദേഹം – പക്ഷെ
നിനക്കുള്ളതല്ലോ ഹൃദയം!”

Look forward to your favorites. Do write in.

20 thoughts on “Susie’s Favorites | Songs of Separation from Malayalam Films

  1. And another song…Ellam vyartham…mazhavillin pooppanthal itra vegam mazhayettu veezhumennararinju ararinju by P Jayachandran (it closely follows the tune of Pinneyum inakkuyil pinangiyallo, but is much more captivating).

  2. How heartening to see that someone still retains a heart for such musical gems! Thanks a lot, Ms. Susie, for giving a chance to listen to them. Neela viriyitta neerala methayil by P Leela from Devalayam is another one that must be preserved by all means. Hope you know that song.


    1. Thank you for your suggestions, muhsin. I don’t know that song from Snehaseema. i love the song Sumangalee nee ormmikkumo…

  4. What a beautiful ‘tearful’ list Susie and others have lined up here! Rewinding to my earliest memory ‘Kannuneer muthumaay’ from Nithyakanyaka is the first song of yearning that I remember.Another early song is ‘Neela viriyitta neeraalamethayil’ from Devaalayam.‘mohathinte mukham njaan kandu’ from ‘Acchanum bappayum’ is a favourite of mine.Did anybody mention ‘Vijaanatheerame’ from Rathrivandi?
    A few more from the Golden era of Malayalam songs-‘Premabhikshuki’ from Punarjanmmam,’Varshameghame’ (Aval alppam vaikippoyi),’paathirppoovukal’ (Pazhahsiraja) ‘onningu vannengil’ (Thacholi Othenan) thedunnathaare (Ammu) ‘nidrathan neeraazhi’ (Pakalkkinaavu) ‘nirangal than nriutham’ (Paraspparam) ‘kinaavinte kuzhimaadathil’ (Doctor) ‘Ezhara veluppinu (Thilothama)…..
    I better stop now.
    Biju the songs of Moodupadam are a treat! Never knew they are in circulation.
    Has the DVD come out? I feel the clip of ‘Thaliritta kinakkal’ deserves a pride of place on this page itself

    1. Hi Jayashree,
      The songs of Moodupadam are courtesy Gopalkrishnan aka Gopalji. I think he deserves all the praise. Moodupadam as DVD? Surely, you must be kiddin’ me 🙂 But I am always a sucker for hope and do hope it comes out in our lifetime on DVD format :D..Thanks

  5. Hi Anu
    I was surprised at that clip, too. All credit to Gopalji and CM, in the other post on Sathyan’s Moodupadam. Thanks.

  6. Susie
    This time you selected a new theme. Lot many songs are there in this genre. The one song i consider the first among equals is Karayunno Puzha Chrikkuno from the film Murapennu.
    Orumichu Chernnulla Karalukal Verppedumbol Murukunnu Bandham Azhiyunno? The Character Balan (Prem Nazir) is confused. He loves Bhaagi (Sarada). But Bhaagi is going to marry balan’s brother aniyan (Ummer). Till now Bhaagi was Balan’s lover. But tomorrow she is going to be his sister in law. Hence the relation of Balan to bhaagi as a lover is going to fade and the new relation of sister in law is budding.
    A few other songs i wish to add. Parannupoi Nee Akale (Chuvannu Chirakukal – ONV, Salil Chowdhuri), Ormakale (Pratheeksha – ONV, Salil Chowdhury), Maamalakalkkappurathu (Ninamanija Kaalpaadukal – P Bhaskaran M S Baburaj), Niranja Kannukalode (School Master – Vayalar Devarajan), Taalikuruthola Peelikuruthola (Mayilaadum Kunnu – Vayalar Devarajan), Inakkuyile Inakkuyile (Kaattu Tulassi – Vayalar Baburaj ), Nee Evide Nin Nizhalevide (ChitraMela – Sreekumaran Thampi Devarajan), Bharata Puzhayile Olangale (Collector Malathi – Vayalar Baburaj), Swargamenna Kaananathil (Chandrakaantham – Sreekumaran Thampi M S Viswanathan), Karimukil Kaattile (Kallichellamma – P Bhaskaran K Raghavan), Ethu Kadalilo (Kadalamma – Vayalar Devarajan), Kali Chiri Maraatha Praayam (Jail – Vayalar Devarajan), Praanante Praananil (Ammaye Kaanaan – P Bhaskaran K Raghavan)


    1. Hi Sajith,

      Yes, there are countless songs on the subject, and many many thanks for your suggestions. I had always wondered about the situation for Karayunno Puzha…from Nadi, as it was a long time ago that I saw the movie. Thanks for the summary. Most songs you have listed are also personal favourites of mine (including the above) – Inakkuyile, Niranja Kannukalode,and definitely top on the list is Bharathappuzhayile Olangale…


      1. Hi Susie.. A minor correction. Karayunno puzha is from Murapennu, not Nadi. But this is a dukkhagaanam. I suppose you meant Aayiram padasarangal from Nadi which is also a song from the same genre but as you said the situation in the movie is somewhat perplexing. Some of the other songs of separation are the ever popular Anjanakannezhuthi, Nalikerathinte nattil, Himavaahini hrudayahaarini (P. Susheela’s version), Shyamameghame neeyen, Easo Mariam Ouseppe etc. etc. According to me the songs of separation are of two types..the ones we listed out here are of protagonists who are separated with a promise / chance to meet again. The other category is separation for ever. Somehow our lyricists and music directors always kept their best for this genre. And this is a huge list, the ever popular category called Dukkhaganangal.

        1. Hi Jagadish
          My mistake! I did mean Karayunno Puzha from Murappennu.Thanks.

          You are right, there are songs about separation with hopes of meeting again, and goodbye songs. I like Anjanakkannezhuthi and Himavaahinee… 🙂


  7. oh oh oh.. my favorite genre! i don’t think any other emotion lends itself so beautifully to poetry/music as viraham. thank you for this post:) allow me to add a few favorites… ‘Vasantha Panchami Naalil’… ‘Enthinee chilankakal enthineekaivalakal’, “Oru kochu swapnathin chirakumayi’, the comparatively recent ‘Ennu varum nee’… and that heart wrenching Irayimman Thampi patham featured in Ganam ‘Aarodu cholvene’. the desperate longing, the futility of the wait and the heartbreak… beautiful.

    1. Remitha,

      All thanks to your recent suggestion! I had almost forgotten CM asking me about this (It was a while ago)!

      Enthinee Chilankakal and Oru Kochu Swapnathin are definitely on my list, too.
      Aarodu Cholvene..from Gaanam….I haven’t listened to, but I will.

  8. Thanks for the clip of Thaliritta Kinaakkal – it’s been a childhood favourite, but I have never seen the video. One favourite song, again I don’t know about the picturisation – that sounds like a viraha gaanam is Oru mukham maathram kannil – I love that song.

    1. Yes true.. Oru mukham mathram kannil and Sanyasini nin punyashramathil are my favorite songs about lost hope while the songs in context are those where you see light at the end of the tunnel.

What do you think ?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.