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!
Odes to the Dragonfly
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.
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.
Aakashangalil Irikkum Njangalude (Our Father who art in Heaven) from K.S.Sethumadhavan’s Naadan Pennu (1967) still gives me goosebumps each time I listen to it. Like most of its contemporary compositions, this Vayalar creation was simple, sweet and beautiful. For anyone who knew the Lord’s Prayer, this was a step closer to divinity, and for most who haven’t, an absolute gem that captures the spirit of the evening vespers.