03 October 2010 |Swaralaya-Eenam award for Yesudas, Chitra, MG Radhakrishnan and Raveendran

Eminent singers K J Yesudas, K S Chithra, poet-lyricist O N V Kurup and music director M Jayachandran have been selected for the awards for best talents in Malayalam film music in the last decade by Eenam International, a cultural organisation of non-resident Keralites and Kerala-based ‘Swaralaya.’

The jury that chose the awards was chaired by State Culture Minister M A Baby. Minister M.A. Baby said Mr. Yesudas and Ms. Chitra were selected for their overall contributions to Malayalam film music. ONV, he said, has enriched the world of films through his words and lines.  Mr. Baby said the awards would be given away at a function in Dubai. He announced a posthumous cash prize of Rs.50,000 each for M.G. Radhakrishnan, music director, and Raveendran, composer, for their overall contribution to Malayalam film music.

Continue reading 03 October 2010 |Swaralaya-Eenam award for Yesudas, Chitra, MG Radhakrishnan and Raveendran

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

Onam and Onathumbi from Old Malayalam Cinema.

Odes to the Dragonfly

Onathumbi in Malayalam Film SongsDragonfly Pix Credit : Jkadavoor

I am yet to be made aware of another regional community that attaches so much significance to the presence of  an insect, specifically,  the picture wing dragonfly, when it comes to their greatest celebration  that represents a new beginning, gaiety, mirth, hope and above all the warmth of homecoming. Our little Onathumbi has been so ingrained in our Onam celebrations, that it is but natural to find its reflections in Malayalam Cinema too.

Continue reading Onam and Onathumbi from Old Malayalam Cinema.

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

Christian Songs From Old Malayalam Films -1.

Nithya Vishudhayam Kanya Mariyamey, the waltzy chorale from Nadi (1969) has always been a fond memory. Not just the fact that it symbolized a unique aspect of Old Malayalam Cinema – the transfer of the adapted Christian faith’s music into mainstream musical compositions in films. I don’t think there has ever been an other regional film industry that has so seamlessly integrated organized religion into the main fabric of the narratives and as a result given us memorable compositions, be it Christian chorale,  or ones that reflected the sanctity of the temple sanctorum, or for that matter the intensity of the faithful that assimilate their energy from the al-Masjid al-Haraam.

Continue reading Christian Songs From Old Malayalam Films -1.

Maane Maane from Swapnam (1973), Tarun Bandopadhaya and the stately Nandita Bose.

Maane Maane Vili Kelku is one classic that always manages to set your foot tapping, it has a very infectious bass line and a structure which is so ‘Salil da ‘. It could even pass off as one of the legendary KJ Joy‘s compositions, if not for those quirky signature riffs that spells Salilda’s genius.

Nandita Bose in Swapnam (1973)

Swapnam (1973), directed by Babu Nandancode, starring Madhu, Sudhir (The man who made floral terylene full-sleeved shirts with a flashing Rado on your right wrist a fashion statement 🙂  ) and Nandita Bose (sigh) as the lady love torn between the two, was a long and drawn out masala film for what it was worth, but the songs were pure genius!

Continue reading Maane Maane from Swapnam (1973), Tarun Bandopadhaya and the stately Nandita Bose.