The Songs from Iruttine Athmavu ( 1967 )

Iruttinte Athmavu - Velayudhan's beautifu Ammu kutty
Iruttinte Athmavu – Velayudhan’s beautiful Ammu kutty

Rarely do I come across a movie with all the songs picturised on the lead female protagonist, sung for her by the same playback singer as solo renderings. With Iruttinte Athmavu (1967), it rises a couple of more levels as each one of them, with its perfect picturisation and lyrics, becomes a cherished treasure in its own right. Iruttinte Athmavu (1967) is one such movie. There are four songs in the movie, written by P Bhaskaran, (technically five, with a part of the dance recital sung by Adoor Bhasi which I feel does not even belong to the soul of the movie !) all sung by S Janaki, picturised on Sarada.

Ambadikannanu Mambazham.

Ammu kutty summoning her entire friends from the country side to meet the latest addition to the big Padinjareppatu tharavadu, specifically addressing her dear friend, the squirrel, categorically telling him that unless he plays with Unnikuttan, there wont be anything to nibble for him from her.

Vaakachaarthu Kazhinjoru.

Of the four compositions, two have the distinct and common thread of imageries liberally used that depict Ammukutty’s staunch faith in Krishna, which, strangely is hardly mentioned in the screenplay.While the first ( Ambadikannanu ) refers to the squirrel as the one who filches ripe mangoes for Krishna of Ambadi, this composition is an outright pean to Lord Krishna,seeking his presence, as the ultimate refuge that will heal away all her life’s bitterness and her tears. There is a subtle thread of desperation that seem to echo throughout the song, atleast for me, underlining an urgency for His acts of Faith that would redeem her. As in, when she finishes off with,

ദുരിതത്തില്‍ നീന്തുമെന്നെ സുകൃതത്തിന്‍ തീരം കാട്ടാന്‍
മുരഹര മുകുന്ദാ നീ ഓടി വായോ,

there is absolutely no doubt in her intentions. Beautiful.


My favorite amongst the four, and one of S Janaki’s most memorable ones that convey pathos.Its all self-deprecation and desolation that vibrates throughout the song, even empathising with the Moon, whom she feels must have grown weary, bearing witness to the meaningless acts that constitute people’s lives, down below on earth. What haunts you is Janakiamma’s voice, laden with sadness, yet smooth as silk.

Irukanneer thullikal.

The last among the songs onscreen, this is how Ammukutty, all of 18 years and with a lifetime of frugal living, tallies the balance sheet of her life. Her wretched existence, helplessness in her love towards Velayudhan that would never reach anywhere, the realisation all along about the fate of her relationship with the only person she loved with so much devotion – the song, if you close your and let it take you along with it will wring your heart in a vice and hand it over to you by the end of it.S Janaki is matchless.

The S JanakiBaburaj combination, as Susie mentions, remains one of the best collaborations in her career. Read more about this winning combination, and more of their songs here.

Related :  Memorable Quotes from Iruttinte Athmavu (1967)

Related : Classic Picks | P Bhaskaran | Iruttinte Athmavu (1967)

11 thoughts on “The Songs from Iruttine Athmavu ( 1967 )

  1. Dear CM
    Thanks for the detailed review on the songs from Iruttinte Aatmaavu. Four songs; all for a single character and all sung by S Janaki. This is perhaps the basis distinctive feature of the songs in this film. Ambadi Kannanu was little known, Vaakachaarthu quite popular, Iru kanneer tullikal an exceptionally good song which went unnoticed and the song eeranuduthum kondu was the esteemed and highly regarded song. The lyrics, music composition, effort of the singer and the BGM resulted in the creation of eeranuduthum kondu as a classic song which stood out for more than four decades.
    M T Vasudevan Nair and M S Baburaj associated together for the first time in the film Iruttinte Aatmaavu. In his aricle remembering Baburaj (Selected readings on Baburaj – edited by Jamal Kochangady; current books 2000) M T Vasudevan Nair recollects the discussion he had with M S Baburaj on the relevance and significance of BGM on songs and films that prompted the musician to introduce a closer to the heart BGM for the songs in the film.
    The song Eeranuduthum Kondu, I believe, is basically composed in the major scale. However, Baburaj, added a teevra madhyamam exploring the territory of his beloved raga yemen. The prelude of the song Eeranuduthum Kondu at the outset resembles a little to the intro of the song anuraaga gaanam pole (Udyogastha) but as the BGM progresses it get separated and your sharp ears can enjoy the magic of vibraphones accompanying the strings in a very expressive way. The komal nishadam and komala gandharam was eloquently used in the interludes by Baburaj to convey the mood of the song. If you can play your harmonium with the song you can very well understand how simply but powerfully the BGM is composed. As usual, this song is also edited in the record version; the movie version repeats the 1st line of the anupallavi and chranam which is missing in the record version.
    Iru Kanneer tullikal is composed in the natural minor scale and a detailed examination reveals that M S Baburaj used darbar kyanada raagam which is a janyam of Nata Bhairavi (Carnatic counter part of minor scale). Here also, Baburaj added the teevra madhyamam, a different note effectively as the song enters the line taamara poykayile arayannangale pole in the pallavi to make the sorrow of the helpless heroin more communicative so to create the ‘lump in the throat’ as mentioned by viju. Hawaain Guitar and strings were used in the song as lead instruments and the interludes though simple, demonstrate how they can create a monumental impact
    Vaakachaarthu is a simple song and I still remember AIR broadcasting it in the category of songs at 6.30 PM in the seventies. After repeatedly listening the song, within my limited knowledge, I feel that the song is composed in aarabhi. Needs further clarification by experts. Also I think that Baburaj used a different raga, maybe harikamboji, in the anupallavi and charanam.
    M S Baburaj is a prolific composer with a heart brimming with melodious tunes. It is said that he composes different tunes for a single song within a short time! This ability of baburaj can be corroborated if you just listen the anupallai and charanam of his songs. In majority of Baburaj songs, the notes used in the first line of the anupallavi will be a little bit different from the first line of the charanam. A few songs I can recollect are
    Indulekha Tan (Anadha Yesudas)
    Chandrabimbam Nenjlettum (Pullimaan Yesudas)
    Jeevitheshwarikkekuvaan (Ladies Hostel Yesudas)
    Paavaada Prayathil (Kaarthika Yesudas)
    Oru Pushpam Maatram (Pareeksha Yesudas)
    Bharata Puzhayile Olangale (Collector Malathy K J Yesudas)
    Neela Koovala Poovukalo (Collector Malathy K J Yesudas)

    Baburaj composed two entirely different versions of the song Omanathingale having the same lyrics sung by S Janaki in the film Karutha Raatrikal !
    Once again, thanks for your effort to showcase a classic film and its musical gems

    1. Dear Sajith,Reading through and learning, I feel this had to be right there as the article :)Thank you so much, once again, for explaining the subtle nuances and the effort behind the compositions.Very, very illuminative. The “Theevram” aspect is never lost on anyone who listens to the songs even for the first time, and when you come to know about the “technicalities” employed to create that emotion in you, it becomes all the more brilliant. Thanks again, cinematters

      1. CM
        There is a mistake in my note on the song Iru kanneer tullikal. The different note used as the song enters the line taamara poykayile arayannangale pole in the pallavi is teevra daiatavam and not teevra madhyamam. Sorry for the error


  2. Haunting is the word for eeranuduthum…and irukanneer…! Those who worked behind the screen are more than justified in the bold attempt they made-all the songs in a movie sung by the same singer for the same heroine.Having passed the test of time it stands triumphant with the head held high-The PB/MSB team

  3. Eeranuduthumkondu is a favorite. irukanneer thullikal- am hearing it for the first time (i must have when i saw the movie years back, apparently, i wasn’t paying attention). “wring your heart in a vice and hand it over to you by the end of it.S Janaki is matchless.” i see what you mean. going through these songs i cannot help wondering if sharada was made specially just to do all those, tragic tragic roles.. the dukhaputri sans hope. 😦

  4. Amazing CM…. I dunno whether you noticed- My youtube channel only has 5 uploads and the 1st 4 are these songs!!! 😀 and the 5th is Suryakanthi… 🙂 My personal favorites are Eeranuduthum kondambaram and Iru kanneer Thullikal. I would rate Irukanneer thullikal as one of the best sad songs in Malayalam film music. I cannot listen to this song without a lump in my throat!!! 🙂 P Bhaskaran’s simple meaningful lyrics, MSB’s beautiful melodious music and S Janaki’s soulful rendition have made all the songs such an experience. If you take the best 10 songs of SJ, this combination will be there in at least 6 o 8 songs.

    Though MSB’s forte was Hindustani, Vaakacharthu kazhinjoru was composed in a typical Carnatic style. And he did it with such finesse. Thanks CM. Waiting for many more such posts!!! 🙂

  5. All these songs are beautiful in lyrics, music, rendering and picturisation. And Sarada is my favourite actress. How can they be but all-time classics?

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