There was a time when Malayalam music had simple lyrics and simple music. Those were the days of Devarajan + Vayalar Ramavarma + P. Bhaskaran etc. Although I am not upto the idea of ‘only’ old is gold, I do agree with the factor that it is the simplicity of the lyrics and music that makes old as gold.
Even a layman can sing or hum these tunes without any difficulty. A couple of weeks before, I was in the regional theatre in Thrissur, listening to a music concert in rememberance of Sri P. Bhaskaran maash. There was a wonderful audience consisting Sri. Shobana Parameshwaran Nair, Sreekumaran Thampi, Asianet Sasikumar, and Sakkariah. I could feel the pulse of the audience when Pradipettan sang the first song ” Engine nee marakkum…”
It is the simplicity of the music and the lyrics that makes us listen to this songs again and again, even in these days.
maRavi than maaRiTatthil mayangaal kiTannaalum
ORmakaL OTiyetthi uNaRtthiTunnu…
Such an eternal truth summarized in such simple words and music… Can we hear it ever again in Malayalam music? I am talking about the music for the masses. Music does not always need to be created for the appreciation of the masses.
Music, first and foremost, is an individual thing. But talking about film music, it should be done in a way so that it can be appreciated by the mass audience. Simple, yet creative. It is not necessary that every person should be able to sing every song. We cannot demand that.
Even the maestero Raveendran who composed songs like ” raama katthaa gaana layam” has made songs like “aaraadyam paRayum” with simple lyrics and music. People appreciated both. If I take music for an easy listening, I would anytime prefer ” aaraadyam paRayum” than “raama katthaa gaana layam” because of the lyrical and musical simplicity.
Over time, musicians and lyricists have relied heavily on complicated music patterns and heavily poetic lyrics. Sometimes it would make us wonder what the words mean and how it suits the occassions. Ironically, the most celebrated and worshipped poet of our times, Sri. O. N. V. Kuruppu wrote songs for movies with simple words that go straight into our hearts but with deeper meaning.
Take the songs from Nakhakshathangal as an example. ” aareyum bhaava gaayakanaakkum…” or “kevala marthya bhaasha kELkkaattha…” or his evergreen hits like “ arikil nee undaayirunnenkil…” or “innumente kannu neeril…” – There are lots and lots of examples like this that would make our so-called lyricists of the present days to put in shame. That is the genius of a poet like Sri. O. N. V. Kuruppu.
When we talk about simplicity in music, we cannot forget one name that Malayalees world over are familiar with – Sri. Johnson. We always had simple but everlasting melodies from this great music director. Most of his hits were born when he worked with director Sathyan Anthikkad. He was on a long break since his last work yaathrakkaaruTe SRaddhakk~. Last year, this musical genius came back to the scene with the songs in Photographer. I am just having a look at the songs he composed for this film.
(Male version: K. J. Yesudas)
(Female version: Manjari)
Guruvayur and Kannan have been a cliche in the Malayalam cinema if we take a look at the recent Malayalam movies (Moonnaamathoraal, Aanachantham and now Photographer). But you will love this song for its lyrical quality and music. I don’t know how well it goes with the song sequence in this movie though. But if we take the song as in an album, it is of good quality. The lyricist writes about how Lord Krishna got his black complexion through his creative imagination with a pinch of romance and bhakthi.
As for the singers, Yesudas has done a very good job singing this song even at this age. Eventhough I feel he is losing control over his voice in many of the recent releases, I wonder if there would be anyone who can sing a song like this with full emotion. Take a look at the part where he sings ” anuraaga kuSumpu koNTennO…” or “chuTu chumpanamEtathinaalO…” – Even the young Manjari couldn’t emote that part like KJY does. That is the greatness of this legendary singer.
In Manjari’s singing I felt she is singing a little raw when it comes to the lyrics. For example, she sings “kaRuppu niRam” in a very raw form. She could have sung it in a light form. Otherwise, beautiful singing.
Very soulful, melodious and perfect rendition.
(Singer: K. S. Chitra)
I don’t know how this song is picturized in the movie, but the music and the orchestration of this song sounds exatly like a Christian devotional song. This is a very melodious composition though. I think we have not recognized the musical genius of K. S. Chitra enough. We talk about the legends like Yesudas and I think Chitra also stands on par with KJY in the female part. Such a melodious voice even after all these years and such soulful rendition.
(Singers: Vijesh Gopal, Gayatri)
This is a signature Johnson song. I heard (from a person who worked with this movie) that the male singer Vijesh Gopal came to sing the track of this song and later music director decided to keep his track for the original song. But I am not quite impressed with the guy’s voice. But Gayatri has done a very good job. Very controlled and soulful rendition. One thing you would notice with the singing of Manjari and Gayatri is, Manjari is going too much in the classical way and I felt she is too much open throated. Sometimes we feel she is losing her control over the voice which is required when singing a melody. But Gayatri has a very good control over her voice.
(Singer: Vijay Yesudas)
Vijay has done a decent job in this song. But I feel that at times he is trying to imitate his father. And unfortunately he is imitating his father in the late 90s or 2000, not that magical voice of KJY we used to hear.
The kid who sang this song has done a very good job in this song. You can listen to the typical Johson effects in the orchestration part of this song. Be it the flute or the rhythm part.
I sincerely hope and pray that film makers would make use of the great talent of Johnson and restore some sanity in Malayalam film music scene.