[ This came originally as a detailed response from Sajith Bhaskaran to a post here on S Janaki, and knowing the amount of information he manages to pack to each response, strongly warranted a “place” of its own, and hence this post. S Jankai, P Madhuri and G Devarajan have always been an intersting trio for any Malayalam music buffs who care about Malayalam Film Playback history, for the musical creativity and output between them and a certain degree of intrigue that surrounded the great music director’s choices in vocals over some of the best-loved gems from Malayalam films of yore. Over to Sajith. ]
This is a note on the post of yours on the songs of S Janaki. Your selection of songs traverses through the path of Malayalam film music right from the sixties to the nineties.
In fact, HMV, in the late sixties released an album of selected songs of S Janaki and a few songs in that list are also found among your favourites.
Continue reading S Janaki, an HMV best-seller LP and Devarajan’s ire.
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
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
Odes to the Dragonfly
Dragonfly 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.
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.
Continue reading Onam Songs from Old Malayalam Films | My Favorites.
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.
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!
Continue reading Maane Maane from Swapnam (1973), Tarun Bandopadhaya and the stately Nandita Bose.
Raagam, released in 1975, was directed by A.Bheem Singh ( Sukumari’s husband) had its music of all the 6 compositions of Vayalar, done by Salilda, and the most popular among the soundtracks have to be Nadan pattile Mynah and Ividekattinu Sugandham.
The latter became the title of many risque one-liners and the butt of many jokes ( the expression that literally translates to “I love the fragrance in the breeze here” was a phrase begging to be misused, in the opposite sense).
Continue reading Nadan Pattile Mynah, Vani Jayaram, Raagam(1975) and Dharmendra.
It would be kind of missing the point to say that the amazing repertoire of Salilda‘s contribution to Malayalam Cinema, more or less revolves around Chemmeen‘s soundtrack, every single one of them. It was close to around 25 films, the last being Vellam (1984), produced by actor Devan ( his first and last stint in production). What is not commonly known to most who deeply love Salilda’s music style was his dexterity in adapting his tunes across Indian languages which would have given anyone else the ants-in-pants syndrome. Not that all were successful. I always wince everytime I listen to Kadali, Chenkadali from Nellu, rendered by Lata Mangeshkar for Salilda in Malayalam. Surely, S. Janaki or P.Susheela were available, weren’t they?
Continue reading Neelaponmane, Nellu (1974) and Geetashree Sandhya Mukherjee.