Susie’s Fab Five | Stories as Songs for Children

Sarada and Baby Sumathi in Nadhi (1969)
Sarada and Baby Sumathi in Nadhi (1969)

Children love stories. It is a great way to calm them down after a hectic day, and to get them to eat, or to get them to sleep. As a child, my Mum and my older sister told me stories, be it from the Bible (Mum), or from literary classics like Jane Eyre or the Count of Monte Christo (adapted deftly to a five-year-old’s level of understanding by my sister). It would be told in instalments every night, and much like a reality TV show of today, would finish for the day frustratingly at the most interesting and suspenseful moment – “The rest tomorrow” (ബാക്കി ഇനി നാളെ). No amount of cajoling or crying would help in getting the rest of the story that day. So it was a nail-biting anxious wait for the next evening for the story to resume, dreading the end of the story – “That is all” (അത്തറേ …. ഒള്ളു! in that funny sing-song childish way). This instalment, I dedicate to both my mum and my sister, for sparking my interest in reading from a very early age, to discover new fictional worlds, to meet new fictional characters, and to feel their emotions through the words printed on pages in black and white.

In Malayalam movies, there are many songs narrating such vivid tales of adventure, romance and horror for children. I would like to share a few of my favourites with you here.

1. Vellilakkingini Thaazhvarayil from Kaakkathampuraatti (1970)

This is the story of an innocent frisky lamb, who, unfortunately strayed into the path of a hungry, ferocious wolf. Penned by Sreekumaran Thampi, with perky music by K Raghavan, rendered in P Jayachandran‘s voice which changes from fun to pathos in moments, this is first on my list.

2. Daivaputhranu Veedhi  from Ara Naazhika Neram (1970)

The fascinating story of John the Baptist, told by the VayalarDevarajan team in partnership with melody queen P Susheela told as a lullaby. This song touches on politics, intrigue, revenge and murder, with dancer Salome demanding John’s head to be presented to her on a silver platter, all because he was publicly calling for a corruption-free rule.

3. Panchathanthram Kadhayile  from Nadhi (1969)

A small bird yearns  for unrequited love from a majestic Vaanampaadi soaring high in the sky. Will her dreams ever be fulfilled? Another VayalarDevarajanP Susheela hit from the evergreen classic movie Nadhi (1969). All songs from this movie were hits , and still hold a loving place in the hearts of all Malayali Cinema lovers.

4. Yakshiyambalamadachu  from Gandharvakshethram (1972)

This song is for kids who love scary stories. The myth about the lady in white, the dreaded Yakshi, who glides along in dark forests in search of lonely travellers to seduce, enticing them to their eventual death under the infernal Yakshi palm ( Yakshippana ). Ughhh! Sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it! This is, unsurprisingly, another VayalarDevarajanP Susheela classic from Gandharvakshethram (1972). Most songs from this movie were super hits, and are still popular.

5. Padinjaaroru Paalaazhi from Chakravaakam (1974)

Explaining the solar system to a child is difficult – but not for Vayalar. In this song he talks about the sun, the moon, the stars and the Milky Way, their movement and their beauty. Music is by ShankarGanesh. Dr KJ Yesudas‘s strong story-telling ability is supported by Latha Raju with her voice over for the child on screen. Poor Latha Raju, in spite of her beautiful singing voice and great talent, was relegated to singing in children’s voices even when she was well into adulthood. She has given us many memorably lovable sweet songs like Makkathu Poy Varum, Onnaamtharam Balloon Tharaam, Chippee Chippee Muthuchippee, Aaluvaappuzhaykkakkare, Manjakkilee Swarnnakkilee etc.

*Honorable Mention*

Kizhakku Dikkile Chenthengil  from Aadyakiranangal (1964)

This song is a particular favourite of mine, not just because of the rustic charm of the lyrics by P Bhaskaran evoking images of red and orange sunrise, a starry sky, white clouds floating in the blue sky, and the dark clouds and thunder of a monsoon storm. I love this song for the sweet endearing cherub of a baby on screen in the video, enjoying the rhythm of K Raghavan‘s folk tunes with an angelic smile on his face – Bhaskaran Master‘s son himself. The singer is AP Komala. I have been unable to find the name of the dancing child artist.

The Honor Roll.

{ Just couldn’t help listing these }

Aniyam Maniyam  from Pani Theeraatha Veedu (1972) .

Thamasaa Nadiyude from Danger Biscuit (1969)

Kaakkaykkum Poochaykkum from Pakalkkinaavu ( 1966)

Mannaankattayum Kariyilayum  from Bhaagyamudra (1968)

Murivaalan Kurangachan  from Anweshichu, Kandethiyilla (1967)

There are so many more !

Please share your favourites.

27 thoughts on “Susie’s Fab Five | Stories as Songs for Children

  1. So here’s the trial that led me to this blog: just saw the movie ‘Aranyakam’, did not want it to end (aside – cannot stop listening to ‘Aathmavil mutti vilachudu poley’, though some of the meaning is over-head-transmission for me!), wanted some kind of love angle to develop between the heroine and the ‘other’ guy, led me to search for unrequited love in Malayalam movies and there was your line “small bird yearns for unrequited love from a majestic Vaanampaadi”! Not sure why I wanted to share that info, but as someone who keeps searching for details on Malayalam movies, songs etc. online, I am surprised I never came across this website before and an obscure search term finally got me here!

    You are all doing a great job! How often I have wanted to create something like this, especially with translations and reviews of Malayalam songs, movies, creating a virtual museum for the wonderful, artistic masterpieces some Malayalam movies are, so that they stay recorded for posterity, but been too lazy/not focused enough to do anything about it! So I thought I should at least encourage wonderful people like you! Thank you!

    And this blog entry in particular, loved the theme and loved your selection of songs. Especially the “Kizhakku Dikkile Chenthengil” song – gosh it makes me so nostalgic and mushy – in a nice, yearning kind of way. That cherubim is certainly cute and the little girl is sweet as well. And the song itself, not sure I get the full meaning, no idea why this melody is so beautiful, but all together the song evokes a tender longing for I-don’t-know-what…so glad you had in on here.

    Now you should work on writing a line by line translation of all these songs, for lazy lumps like me, who want to feed off of the creative labors of others! (No, but really you should translate ALL the Malayalam songs ever written, pretty please? :)) Thanks again for taking the time to write all this and then sharing it so generously for our reading pleasure.

    1. Hi SN
      Nice to meet you here. I am glad to know that you enjoyed the article. Of course it goes without saying that I only provide the written matter, It all changes when it is set out so brilliantly by Cinematters, and that makes all the difference.

      After reading your mail I went back to all the songs and re-played them all, and enjoyed listening to them again. As for translating all lyrics to English – I doubt most would retain their poetic and lyrical qualities in the end result. If there is anything in particular you want translated, I can try to the best of my ability.
      Regards

      Susie

  2. Susie Madam,hope you have not found time to go through the posting in the regard.Hope my songs are worth considering. After receiving your comments some more points may follow. With regards. Ravi.C.V. Ambalapara, Ottapalam.

  3. Dear Madam,your article and comments thereof took me to another world. Let me add some from from my memory. 1-Thalee Peelee Kaadukalil of RABEKA composed by K.Raghavan[ as Moli]. 2-Parakkum Thalikayil of MANAVATTI 3-Kili Kili Parunthinu of AMGNIPUTHRI 4- Maanum Mayilum Thullum Kaattil of AGNIPUSHPAM 5-Enthelkam Kadhakalund Ammaykku Parayan of KUDUMBINI composed by L.P.R.Varma the list goes on. Will continue.My next message follows. Ravi.C.V. Ambalapara-Ottapalam.

  4. Dear Susie
    This time children songs. Very good compilation.May i add a few in this category?
    Chirichappol Onnu Chirichappol (Film Prathikaaram written by Sreekumaran Thampi Music by M B Sreenivaasan)
    Champaka Poongaavanathile Poomara Chottil (K J Yesudas Film Aabhijaatyam Wriiten by P Bhaskaran and music set by A T Ummer)
    Paavakutty Paavaada Kutty (Udayabhanu Lata. Film Kadathukaaran Written by vayalar and Music M S Baburaj)
    Poovukal Tendum Poombaata (Film Oraal Koodi Kallanaai Written By G Sankara Kurup Music by Job)
    Orikkaloru Poovaalan Kili (L R Easwari. Film Bhartaavu Wriiten by P Bhaskaran music by V Dakshinamoorthi)
    Kanyakumari Kadappurathu (P Leela. Film Proffessor Wriiten by Vayalar and music by G Devarajan)
    Sooryanum Chandranum (P Jayachandran. Film Panchavadi Written by Sreekumaran Thampi and music by M K Arjunan)
    Chrikku Chirikku Chitra Varna Poove P Susheela. (Film Panchavadi Written by Sreekumaran Thampi and music by M K Arjunan)
    Chattal Mazhayum Ponveyilum (Lata Devi. Film Oppol Wriiten by P Bhaskaran and music by M B Sreenivaasan)
    Kurukkan Raajaavaai (P Madhuri. Film Aa Chitrasalabham Parannotte Wriiten by Vayalar and music set by G Devarajan)
    Maniyan Chettikku mani mittai K J Yesudas (Film Chandana Chola Written by Dr Balakrishnan and music by K J Joy)
    Sibiyennu Peraai Pandu Pandoru (P Madhuri Film Poombaatta Wriiten by Yusufali Kecheri and music by G Devarajan)
    Kizhakku Kizhakku Kizhakkan Kaattile (Lata. Film Daaham Written by Vayalar and music by G Devarajan
    Aarum Kaanathaiaiyya (Film Kadal written by Sreekumaran Thampi music by M B Sreenivaasan)

    Sajith

    1. Sajith

      Very comprehensive, as usual! Some of these are favourites which had completely slipped my mind, like Sibiyennu Peraay, Chaattal Mazhayum, Paavakutty. Others I have never heard before, like Aarum Kaanaathayyayyaa, Sooryanum Chandranum, Orikkaloru Poovaalan Kili etc. Thank you for these suggestions.🙂

      Susie

      1. Susie
        Thanks for the reply. I made the list rapidly. Another two songs i would like to share in this category are Olichu Pidichu (P Susheela Mooladhanam written by P Bhaskaran and composed by G Devarajan) & Mandachaare Mottataliyilu (P Madhuri Film Sindooracheppu written by Yusufali Kecheri and composed by G Devarajan).

        Sajith

        1. Sajith,
          I did consider some of these songs, but they were not telling stories as such, they were just puzzles or question/answers, etc. That is why I did not include them, though they are of course great children’s songs.

          Regards
          Susie

  5. thookukal katha parayunu has a nice song on this catogory.
    “njan pirana naatil njaval mara chotil
    ipozumundu i’ozumundoru durga kshetram…..”
    it was my all time favorate

  6. Hi WONDERFUL AND GREAT these songs were so soothing to the ears and at times bring tears too as i think back of my childhood days my all time favourite is Panchathanthram Kadhayile and Aniyam Maniyam by P Susheela Amma i have no words to express about the songs and also there is a beautiful by P Susheela Amma from RAAGAM and the song is Omanathingal and is lovely thanks and looking forward more and to refresh the memory A BIG THANK U CHEERS

    1. Hi Bhuva

      I am glad that you liked these songs. Yes, all these are very nostalgic for me, too.

      I agree, Omanathinkalpakshi is a great song. I like it, too.

      Regards

      Susie

  7. Susie, thanks for bringing back memories! I had much the same experience as you did – especially the part where they left the story off at the most exciting part!!

    This song is a lullaby believe it or not, but like many of Salilda’s films, never released. (At least, I haven’t heard that it did.) Quite a scary one, if you ask me, and I can’t see any child sleeping after this!

    1. Anu

      This was actually the first song that came to mind when thinking of this topic. But there is something about the song which makes me dislike it. It just doesn’t have that usual ONV magic. Sounds as if he just made words to suit the tune. So it went way down on the list🙂 I agree, it is a dark song…tender souls would be traumatised🙂

  8. fab collection indeed. how well i remember that ‘athare ullu:. brought back to mind so many story telling sessions with friends. could never have enough of them. my mom used to sing vellila kingini thaazhvarayil to me. she was trying to tell me it was a big bad world out there and terrible things cld happen to disobedient kids:) the song always ended with her advice to listen to my parents. i also remember dancing to kakkaykkum poochaykkum as a kid.. i was the poocha🙂 panchatantram kathayile and aniyam maniyam are favorites too. thanks for this post.. brought back a lot of memories.

    1. So you had the dreaded “athare ullu” as well?😀 I am sure you followed your Mum’s advice to the letter. We all undoubtedly did, didn’t we. Writing this post was like time travelling to those good old years.

  9. Superb!! Susie!! All these songs were part of my childhood too. Also Kizhakku kizhakkoraana from the Thriveni.and Panjara paalu mittai from Bhaarya.. though the first is more of riddles and the second just childhood pranks.. I remember them as a part of my childhood!! I think your collection childhood stories as songs are almost complete. Can’t think of anything!!!😦 Thanks for taking me through memory lane!!

    1. How could I forget those 2 Devi!! Kadha Kadha painkilyum was also my favorite.. Thanks!! Villu kettiya kadukkanittoru valiammavan is from Line bus? There was a program on a very popular radio show called paattinte paalazhi. A couple of weeks back the topic was this and both these songs were mentioned in it🙂 And still I forgot!!!😦 maybe started becoming senile as age is catching up!! Lol!!

  10. പുതിയ കാലത്തിലേക്ക് വരുന്ന വഴിക്ക് “പണ്ടൊരു കാട്ടില്‍” എന്നൊരെണ്ണം കൂടി ഉണ്ട് പിന്നെ ലല്ലലലം കുറച്ചു കൂടി പുതിയത് .. നദിയിലെ പാട്ടാണ് ഇതില്‍ കൂടുതല്‍ പോപ്പുലര്‍ എന്ന് തോന്നുന്നു . നല്ല ലേഖനം സൂസി .

    1. നന്ദി, ജയ്‌ മോഹന്‍. ലല്ലലലം ഏതാണ്? പണ്ടൊരു കാറ്റില്‍ നല്ല പാട്ടാണ്.

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