S Janaki | 10 Songs for a rainy, lazy, laidback evening

Janaki.S As with any other legend in our film industry, its impossible to choose when it comes to our Nightingale of Celluloid, S Janaki, or fondly Janakiamma with all the respect that I can muster. Her voice  is like warm honey over a cold heart when it wants to be and like a comforting cloak on a windy evening.While on the subject, I just felt I need to mention about Dhool, a wonderful resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the yesteryears of Malayalam playback singing amongst a host of other subjects. Sadly, it has been live but inactive since the past two years.

I have managed to write a note to the owner to keep it up forever. I sincerely hope he does.

Continue reading S Janaki | 10 Songs for a rainy, lazy, laidback evening

Malayalam Films | 1960-1970

Vijayanirmala in Bhargavinilayam (1964)

One of the most glorious decades of Malayalam Cinema. Black & White blossomed into pure art in the hands of one of the best cinematographers of India, A Vincent, who turned Director with Bhargavee Nilayam (1964). RK Shekhar came to his own, with his first independent music composed for Pazhassi Raja (1964), with the brilliant Kottarakkara Sreedharan Nair essaying the lead character, Pazhassi Raja ! (Yes, Mammootty wasn’t the first, you see) .

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KPAC Dramas adapted to Film – 1

Mudiyanaaya Puthran (1961)

Mudiyanaya Puthran Film Title The first in the series of the KPAC plays to be adapted on to the silver screen, the popularity of KPAC’s play which debuted in 1957 helped in its own way fuel up the popularity of its screen version too. The movie was produced by TK Pareekutty for his Chandrathara Productions, and was the debut of Ramu Kariat, Adoor Bhasi and S.Konnat – the art director who would later become a staple for all of Udaya’s productions, specially the Vadakkan Pattukal. The main roles of the village rebel Rajan was played by Sathyan ( O Madhavan in the stage version), his lady love Chellamma was Miss Kumari( KPAC Sulocahana in the stage adaptation), and the play had even won the the Kerala Sahitya Academy award for best literary work in the drama category in 1959.

Continue reading KPAC Dramas adapted to Film – 1

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

Malayalam Films | 1950-1960

Sathyan and Ragini in Nair Pidicha Pulivaal After a long break of 10 years, ( there were no movies produced between 1941-1948 in Malayalam, from what we know now) it was production back to normal, averaging 6 movies every year, for the next decade. The films in this decade had a few firsts (it was bound to be), with Malayalam’s first box-office hit Jeevithanouka(1951), which established a set formula and format for a ‘winning story’ at the box-office and gave us our first megastar –Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair! Janova (1953), was the first and last film which saw MGR in a Malayalam film! 

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Thiramala(1953), Naushad, Anokhi Ada (1948) and a paperboat.

Thiramala (1953), based on the short story ‘Choondakkaran‘ by TN Gopinathan Nair, the celebrated literary icon of Kerala, also introduced the singer Shantha P Nair and the legendary Adoor Bhasi to Malayalam Cinema. I think this was also the first movie with a different climax, for the the North and the Southern audiences of Kerala. Of the 13-odd songs, which was more or less imitations of Hindi tunes of yore, P Bhaskaran should have been at his wits end, penning  lyrics that some how came across very amusing when married to the tune.

Continue reading Thiramala(1953), Naushad, Anokhi Ada (1948) and a paperboat.

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