When I think back on my childhood from where I am now at 51, I think that I had a delightful time. Though with its share of disappointments and frustrations, the good memories now far outweigh the unpleasant.
The memory I treasure most is that of my father’s old gramophone and the thirty six 78 rpm records which came with it. They were mostly KPAC Drama songs and a few movie songs from the 50’s and 60’s. My father could sing in a good baritone. He would sing those songs and my mother would join in with good spirit. Neither had any formal musical training, but I suppose the Christian hymns we sang in church and the vespers at home were training enough.
These are the songs that they used to sing to us then, and I treasure their memories now. This is a tribute to my parents, my father who left us 38 years ago on September 27th, and my mother who left us at 15 minutes to midnight on the 2nd of July this year.
1. Aathmavidyaalayame from Harishchandra (1955)
Thirunayinarkurichi Madhavan Nair / Br Lakshman / Kamukara
Without doubt this was a favourite with both my mother and father. A deeply philosophical song written by Thirunayinarkurichi Madhavan Nair and with brilliant music by Br Lakshman, it is a timeless classic of Malayalam Cinema reflecting the sad plight of the mythical figure Raja Harischandra. Let us live life to its fullest, to its best in the present without greed or excessive pride. After all, is this what life comes down to? Is that all there is?
2. Nayapaisa Illa fromNeeli Saali (1960)
P Bhaskaran Master / K Raghavan / Mehboob
Penned by the genius of P Bhaskaran Master and set to music by folk maestro K Raghavan, sung with the characteristic peppiness of Mehboob, this song by far was one of my father’s favourites. This probably reflected our financial situation at the time, but I was too young to understand. I just liked the song and the tune at that time as a toddler.
നഞ്ചു വാങ്ങി തിന്നാന് പോലും
Simple lyrics and a simple tune, but it stayed in your head for ever.
3.Vandee Vandee Ninneppole from Doctor (1963)
P Bhaskaran Master / G Devarajan / Mehboob
My father used to sing this song when he was hungry and waiting for food to be served, and we would all join in. At that time the lines “thendi nadannaal randu perkkum kayyil varunnathu kaayaane, kaayaane” to me meant that he was begging for Bananas, but I now know it means cash! 🙂
My dad must have been a fan of Mehboob, because most of the records he played and sang were Mehboob songs, like Aatte Potte Irikkatte and the popular megahit duet Kandam Bechoru Coataanu sung by the legend MS Baburaj and Mehboob from Kandam Becha Coat (1961). As usual, P Bhaskaran has showed his masterful touch for comedy in all the lyrics in this movie with catching tunes by Baburaj. Another of his Mehboob favourites was Theerchayilla from the movie Neeli Saali (Which, interestingly, was resung by Mohanlal in Usthaad (1999), and Kaayalarikathu Valayerinjappol (P Bhaskaran again, with music by K Raghavan who else would it be, with those folksy tunes!) from Neelakkuyil (1954).
The songs I remember my mother by are mostly lullabies (no surprise there :)) and of course the obvious favourite was Omanathinkal Kidaavo which I have followed tradition by singing to my own two kids when they were babies. Got them to sleep too! 😀
4. Kannum Pootti Uranguka from Snehaseema (1954)
Listening to this song now brings tears to my eyes because I can actually remember their voices singing this duet – my mother singing
“kannum pootti uranguka neeyen
kanne punnaara ponnu makale
ammem achanum chaarathiripoo
chemme neeyurangomana kunje”
and my Dad joining in
“thaarani thoomugham sookshichu nokki
en thankakkudathine kannu vaykkathe
thamara kanakalil nidra vanallo
thamasikaatheyuranguken thankam ”
Only recently did I see the movie clip for this song. A very young debonair Sathyan and dazzling damsel Padmini. A beautiful song scene.
5. Appanippam Varum from Jnaanasundari (1961)
Being the youngest, I used to follow my father around like a puppy dog. When he was sometimes late from work and I asked my mother where he was, she would sing me this song.
“appanippam varum ningalurangalle makkale
athalellaam theerumente karalinte pookkale”
and, true to her words, he would appear later with a packet or two of lollies or some other goodies for us. No matter how late it was, we would sit around the dinner table till the food would dry on our hands, talking and joking far into the night.
Today I remember my parents with utmost love and express my gratitude to them for bringing us into this world and sacrificing everything else to gives us the best education, food, shelter and the values which I now uphold in life.