You could read this as a continuation of the earlier post appreciating the inherent beauty of ONV Kurup’s lyrics in Malayalam films. A film song becomes sweet due to the combined effort of the lyricist, music director with the background music and the singer. Quite often, the role of the musician gets ignored and I feel that it is an injustice. Everyone admires V Dakshinamoorthy who composed the song Chandrikayil Aliyunnu Chandrakaantham. But who cares to know that the excellent interludes which supported the song is composed by R K Sekhar ? By just recollecting those musical gems of the past in totality, let me put down a few songs enriched not only with the lyrics of ONV Kurup but by the compositions that made those songs to live in the memory of all music lovers with its synergy.
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.
From The Hindu 25 September 2010
ONV: A bard of revolution, peace and humanity
“No writer can claim that his works will change the world as he desires. The crown of a saviour is too heavy for him. But he cannot escape from his own concerns for mankind and Mother Earth. For me a poem can be an ardent wish or prayer for peace for all or a motif of love that binds hearts together, or a signal for an imminent storm or a soothing balm over a bleeding wound or even a clarion call for social change… Poetry, irrespective of its language, in its spirit, transcends all geographical barriers to express its concern for the entire world of phenomena.” That was O. N. V. Kurup presenting his ‘A Poet’s Testament’ while participating in the ‘Meet the Author’ series organised by the Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi some years ago.
Onappaattukal that transcend time.
Songs 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.
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.
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.
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.
Ningal Enne Communistakki ( You made me a Communist )
Of the 12-odd dramas that were adapted to film, the ones that were the most popular had to be Mudiyanaya Puthran and Ningalenne Communistaakki. And amongst the duo, this had the upper hand. If not for anything, but for the fact that Prem Nazir, Sathyan shared space with KT Ummer, a veteran from KPAC , who would go on to become one of the most handsome villians, made all the more better with his signature style of dialogue delivery and mannerisms.
The drama was the defining production that dexterously weaved in the principles of collective ownership, struck against the fiefdoms created by caste strictures and the ensuing poverty in Kerala’s prevailing social system, exhorting people to rise up and fight it, portrayed through the lives of a crumbling, gone-to-seed Illam (a sort of Manor House ) whose head was still stuck on past glory, and the son who was unemployed, firebrand and ripe for a revolution with a cause.
Playwright – Thoppil Bhasi
Lyrics – ONV Kurup
Music – G Devarajan
Direction – Thoppil Bhasi
One interesting fact about all the KPAC dramas which were adapted for the screen was the fact that none of the songs that made it such a social phenomenon and contributed to the popularity in the first place, were NEVER repeated on screen! For Mudiyanaya Puthran ( The Prodigal Son), a new set was written by P. Bhaskaran, released in 1961.
Lyrics : ONV Kurup | Music : G.Devarajan.
1. Chillimulam Kaadukalil ~ Sung by : K S George.
The song was about the naughty, playful breeze rustling up the neighborhood bamboo thicket with a tune on its lips. A sliver of thought that takes a lot of time getting used to, in this age of almost zero patience thresholds, more like – “You got time to chat up with the evening breeze?!!!!” Bah!
This series is dedicated to Richard. 🙂
I don’t think there has been any other theater movement or for that matter any movement in any state in India, that has entertained, and with it sown the seeds of social rethinking and transformation the way KPAC (Kerala Peoples Arts Club) did for Kerala. I guess along with the central theme of the subjects that stalwarts like Thoppil Bhasi chose for the productions, the songs composed by the popular team of ONV-Devarajan was a big draw that brought people to watch them. Even though the compilation from HMV of KPAC’s drama songs is now on CD, I can never thank those audio engineers enough for leaving the hiss, the scratches and the rumble intact. All I have to do is close my eyes, and its as if KPAC Sulochana is right there on stage, rocking the stage with Cheppu kilukkana changathi ( from Mudiyanaya Puthran, 1960) . In an interview with The Hindu in 2005, Devarajan Master has shared some interesting details on the efforts that went in to produce the compilation.
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.
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!