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.
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
(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