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.
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.
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.
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.