Comedy interludes have been a staple of commercial Malayalam cinema from the beginning. Many of these scenes were picturised as songs. I have not seen many of these songs, because in those days, radio was the only way for me to listen to songs. Many of these still bring a smile to my face even today. It is only recently that I have seen, through Youtube clips, the actual scenes which belonged to those classic songs.
1. Paappee, Appachaa from Mayilaadumkunnu ( 1972 )
When I think about comedy songs, the first one that springs to mind is the song “Paappee, Appachaa ” from the movie Mayilaadumkunnu, sung by CO Anto and Latha Raju (Vayalar/Devarajan). To sing a whole song with clarity, while giving the impression of inebriation, takes a good deal of talent and effort which CO Anto has carried away to perfection here, with good support and no less talent from Latha Raju. This is one of those songs I still love even though I have never seen the picturisation. It became something of a catch phrase later, and there is even a recent movie with this same song title, and a song in it with the same starting words.
2. Kuruvippetti Nammude Petti from Sthaanaarthi Saramma ( 1966 )
There was a time when one could not imagine a movie without Adoor Bhasi. Although sometimes he tended towards overacting, he reigned supreme in comedy roles for decades.This satirical song, written by Vayalar and set to music by the great LPR Varma, pokes fun at politics, and the fantastically unbelievable promises candidates make in an election so that they can win. They intend to make the Panchayat a paradise by building parks, roads, streetlights, bridges. There will be mountains of rice grains everywhere ( നാടാകെ അരിയുടെ കുന്നുകളാണ് ! ), the Tax Department will be no more, listen on! I cannot imagine that anyone else singing this song would be as effective.
3. Suruma Nalla Suruma from Kayamkulam Kochunni ( 1966 )
Who could forget the tall, lanky Suruma seller in North Indian clothes and topi, with his tinkling tambourine, extolling the various virtues of his Suruma to all who would listen! Kayamkulam Kochunni ( 1966 ) the movie, became famous as much for Sathyan in the title role, as Yesudas in the cameo. Lyrics were by P Bhaskaran and music by BA Chidambranath. I don’t know why, but Yesudas in this scene reminds me of Amithabh Bachchan in Mere Angane Mein . The images this song bring to mind are simply hilarious!
4. Theerchayilla from Neeli Saali ( 1960 )
I listened to this record a lot on our old gramophone when I was growing up. It was a fast and funny song of the times. An elephant causing all kind of chaos running amok in a small town. Based in the Mappila tradition of northern Kerala, P Bhaskaran – K Raghavan team has kept it true to tradition with no little help from the legendary Mehboob. It was a new experience with a lot of new words and phrases, and a new way of singing for my ears at that time.
Listen to an Audio excerpt of the song, courtesy MSI.
5. Naagaraadi Ennayundu from Devaalayam ( 1964 )
It is difficult for me to imagine the great Kaaranavar of Malayalam film music, the living legend Dakshinamoorthi Swamy, singing frivolous or light hearted comedy songs. But indeed he has. This is one such, and I cannot but include it in my selection. Lyrics are by Abhayadev, and it is set to music by Swami himself.
Kaayalarikatthu Valayerinjappol (Neelakkuyil, set to music and sung by K Raghavan, written by P Bhaskaran ), Vandee, Pukavandee (Doctor, Mehboob, P Bhaskaran, Devarajan), ABCD Chettan Kedi (the one and only song Kishore Kumar sang in Malayalam for Ayodhya, P Bhaskaran/Devarajan ), all these are my favourites, too.