Vayalar’s Classics gets a reintepretation as Paintings, courtesy KV Jyothilal

Vayalar Ramavarma_Lyricist Came across this fantastic re-interpretation of a magical kind altogether the other day, based on a small report in the Malayala Manorama daily. KV Jyothilal, an accomplished and experienced artist from Kollam has done this exquisite series of paintings based on the Malayalam Classics that we have grown up on, and have come to love and cherish. He has done a series on his favorites composed by Vayalar and another series dedicated to the classics by P Bhaskaran.

It is quite commendable and the more you go through his ontepretation of Vayalar’s compositions, one is amazed at the different layers and textures that he reveals, that is the best part about the sets. He had just completed an exhibition of the series last week,  a tiny report of the same that stoked my curiosity. And thank God, he did have the good faculties to have uploaded all of it as separate blogs termed Nirakkoottam ( a play on the term Nirakkoottu – color palette). I have attempted to showcase his creation against the celluloid original  ( as available on the Web ) that was his inspiration so that it becomes easy to put them in perspective. He has in total, painted 32 interpretations of his beloved classics of which only 10 have been displayed online. Here  are a few from the series.

Continue reading Vayalar’s Classics gets a reintepretation as Paintings, courtesy KV Jyothilal

Samayamam Rathathil , V Nagel, Guru Dutt and Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Rev V NagelThere is no other dirge that we hold close to our heart than the classic Samayamam Rathathil (In the Chariot of Time, here I am, on my journey to heaven), which has become a symbol of passing regardless of caste, creed or social boundaries. No ‘Passing ‘ is complete without Samayamam Rathathil, if you are in Kerala, regardless of caste, color creed or social barriers. It is amazing that a hymn written as an exultation of praise and longing to be with the Lord, somehow over time gradually migrated to represent the collective pathos and separation of a whole community. I believe it was Aranazhikaneram(1970) that played an important role in the popularisation of this hymn that somehow got stamped as a dirge with the effective usage of that in the movie. Vayalar seems to have taken the original lines written by Rev V Nagel, tweaked it a bit, and Devrajan Master speeded up the tempo a bit to form Samayamam rathathil, as we know it today. But the song itself, along with the central idea of the chariot that’s taking one on a journey has some interesting cousins in history. I’m sure most of you know it, this is for the ones who don’t.

Continue reading Samayamam Rathathil , V Nagel, Guru Dutt and Swing Low Sweet Chariot

S Pavamani | A Producer of Classics and Popular Cinema.

Ayodhya (1975)

S Pavamani‘s first film production, it was the remake of the NTR starrer Samsaram (1950), directed by PN Sundaram under the newly formed PrathapChithra banner. He spared no expense in getting Prem Nazir, the reigning celluloid god to play the hero and KR Vijaya as the main female lead. A pure commercial blockbuster, he made sure the buzz factor notched up a few notches up with getting the one and only Kishore Kumar to sing in Malayalam.

Continue reading S Pavamani | A Producer of Classics and Popular Cinema.

Christian Songs From Old Malayalam Films -3

Salil Choudhary had this amazing sensibility to really get under the skin of any genre of music that he was briefed to create according to the Director’s vision. Add to the sound tapestry that we are familiar with, when it comes to Salilda‘s contribution to Malayalam cinema, a Russian composition for Nellu (1974), and I would say the most perfect Christian harmonic church chorale I have ever heard onscreen was in Aparadhi ( 1977), Nanma Cherum Amma. It is also surprising that he never repeated that composition anywhere, maybe because it was so appropriate and unique, just perfect for that moment for that one film in Malayalam. I have had the misfortune to listen to countless versions ( really really horrible, terrible, scary covers) of the song available in the market, and I chuckle to myself when you realise that even with the latest cut-and-paste sound engineering magic in recording studios these days, NO ONE has been able to replicate the haunting harmony of the song!

Continue reading Christian Songs From Old Malayalam Films -3

Poombatta’s Songs (1971) | G Devarajan, Sound of Music, RocknRoll and King Shibi

There were four songs and an instrumental dance track in Poombatta (1971). The lyrics for all the songs were by Yousuf Ali Kechery, set to music by G Devarajan. Being a self-styled ‘Children’s Film’, the songs were also crafted and set to music to gratify that belief, which also explains the song about King Shibi from the Jataka Tales.

Raagini and Baby Sridevi in Poombatta (1971)

I guess BK Pottekkad included it to probably propagate a sense of higher value and worth that the film conveys, but P Madhuri’s voice is not exactly what sounds agreeable to me as the voice of a loving mother (here Raagini) singing to her daughter ( Baby Sridevi).

Continue reading Poombatta’s Songs (1971) | G Devarajan, Sound of Music, RocknRoll and King Shibi

King Mahabali aka Maveli on Film

Baaman Avatar (1955)
My Grandpa used to get very offended, when, I used to tell him that King Mahabali (from now on refereed to as Maveli) had to be the only ‘Socialist’ ruler in mythology, for being able to manage a kingdom where the material needs were none, and everyone had enough to keep them happy! Now, I can’t find a better and finer example than the concept, more beautifully lived out in our mythology, than the legend of Maveli. And ancient texts, scriptures, mythology have always been a favorite hunting ground for our film makers, going back all the way to Raja Harishchandra in 1913, our first movie from India !

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Onam Songs from Old Malayalam Films | My Favorites.

Onappaattukal that transcend time.

Onam Songs from Old Malyalam FilmsSongs that celebrate the festive spirit of Onam, the harvest festival of our homeland ( wait a minute, harvest festival? I can’t even recall the last time someone celebrated a decent harvest), have got themselves their own special place in the realm of Malayalam Cinema. Come to think of it, it has been quite some time, since someone decently picturized a traditional Thiruvathira recital or an Onappaattu worth its salt in recent years. Should we blame the increasing disconnect with our traditions, and as an implication, less recognition by the movie-watching public, which again means less marketability? I don’t know.

Continue reading Onam Songs from Old Malayalam Films | My Favorites.

The Revolution on Film – 2

Mukhamukham (1984).

From being the cinematic ‘experience’ of the movement, captured from real life ( with a reasonable amount of commercial ingredients added), I guess the genre got itself a kick in the face (literally) when Adoor Gopalkrishnan‘s Mukhamukhom (Face to Face) released in 1984. Adoor, just pulled apart the rotting guts of the ‘movement’, and then laid it bare on the silver screen. Broadly, I feel, from this point on, the focus was more on the effect of the ideology on the individualities/personalities, rather that glorifying the ‘revolution’. The past 2 decades haven’t budged from this perspective – it was more about the “I, than the Ideology ” . I guess the ones that come to mind, across these 25-odd years, reasonably explains well, the enduring perspective of the dilemma of the human being who gets caught between the ideology, consumed by it, and is gradually disillusioned by it.

Continue reading The Revolution on Film – 2

Lyrics by ONV Kurup | My 10 Favourites.

Its hard when you have a body of work that is more than 900 plus songs to his credit in Malayalam Cinema, and most of them compete with each other on your favorites’ list. Right from the first composition in Kalam Maarunnu (1955), “Aa Malarpoyikayil”, a duet – sung by KS George and K Sulochana, it becomes a delightful exercise every time I try to compile my favorite 10 songs of ONV. I think ONV had two great associations for the collective number of films collaborated, when it came to making great songs for cinema, G.Devarajan and Salil Choudhari.

Even though, they were so different in their sensibilities and mainly the language, ONV’s genius adapted to both the Maestros, churning out hit after hit, knowing exactly what the “situation” demanded of him, and how it would turn out after the ‘final mix.’ Another one who almost equalled ONV in this dexterity of creativity must have been Girish Puthenchery, who passed away in the prime of his career.

Surprisingly, the ONV-Devarajan combination came together for only around 20-odd films, I guess, and it was around 16 films with Salilda.

Here are my favorites, for the moment.

Continue reading Lyrics by ONV Kurup | My 10 Favourites.

Christian Songs From Old Malayalam Films -2

Ragini in Bharya (1962)

Bharya (1962)

All the 9 songs in Bharya (1962) were super hits. Starting from Periyare by AM Raja, and ending with the dirge Dayaaparanaya Karthave, between themselves ensured that M Kunchacko laughed and danced all the way to the box-office.

Presumably based on the real-life incident of an illicit affair gone horribly wrong involving a college professor’s family, there were three songs that could be termed as Christian devotional songs. Written by Vayalar and set to tune by G.Devarajan, maybe they remain classic and timeless, even today, for the simplicity and unique structures of the songs. Speaking of uniqueness, nothing could beat Kanivolum from Snehaseema (1954) composed by Dakshinamurthi. That and more, as we go down the sepia lane.

Continue reading Christian Songs From Old Malayalam Films -2

The Revolution on Film – 1

Malayalam Films’ Revolutionary Songs.

When KPAC went ahead and transferred the ‘socialist revolution’ on to the commercial framework of Malayalam Cinema, they were also cleverly marketing the principle onto those parts of the community that had not yet heard or known about the ‘movement.’ That was one aspect. It also gave us some great compositions through them movies that still manage to capture our attention, and sing along with it, amazed at the way some can turn on the goosebumps routine. But, whether they are equally as inspiring as they once were, hmmmmm..that would be something really worth thinking about, when the idea itself is gradually sliding down the planet’s  history dustbin. No, personally, I still believe the idea will have universal relevance. It was the ‘execution’ part that did it in. Here are the ones that still manages to get my eyes misty and the heart reasonably wistful.

Continue reading The Revolution on Film – 1