Faded Into Oblivion Series (5)
Gangasangamam (ഗംഗസംഗമം – 1971) – “Mohaalasyam Madhuramamoru” (മോഹാലസ്യം മധുരമാമൊരു); Voice: P Susheela (പുലാപക സുഹീല); Composer: Paravoor Govindan Devarajan (പറവൂര് ഗോവിന്ദന ദേവരാജന്)
Produced by PK Films, “Gangasangamam” is a 1971 Indian Malayalam film (Released 17 December 1971), directed by J D Thottan and produced by Paul Kallundal Thottan. The star cast included Prem Nazir, Jayabharathi, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair, Girija, Ragini, Kottarakara Sreedharan Nair and Jesey in lead roles. The screenplay was written by Ponkunnam Varkey with Cinematography by P Ramaswami & edited by V P Krishnan. The film had musical score by G. Devarajan with lyrical support from Vayalar Ramavarma.
The soundtrack consisted of 4 songs – “Manasa Vacha Karmana” (K J Yesudas), “Mohaalasyam Madhuramam” (P Susheela), “Munthirikudilil” (P Jayachandran), “Ushasse” (P Maduri).
No introduction is needed on Maestro Devarajan’s body of work (Pithamaha or Grand Sire of Malayalam Cine Music), as he has widely experimented with Carnatic Ragas in his Compositions for over 300 films, a feat indeed. Devarajan was at one point of time regarded as the doyen of Film music in South India. He was much feared and respected by all musicians and singers of that period, for his sound knowledge in Classical music. It might be due to this dominance he had over others that he was widely known as arrogant. But he enjoyed a royal status till his death among the music circles. Devarajan was the one who used maximum number of Raaga’s in Malayalam film music. His music embraced different styles with the Carnatic and Hindusthani melody lines meeting folk idioms and western harmony. Susheelamma was his favorite singer and the two have collaborated to produce many immortal gems that still rules the heart of the masses and many modern day composers consider him their Guru. Somewhere in a reality show the Maestro’s name is quoted with reverence at least once a day. Such is the profound impact of a man who scaled the peaks of Malayalam Film Music with his sheer brilliance and command over the Carnatic Ragas. He had an uncanny knack of blending the carnatic ragas and light classical music thereby creating monolithic orchestral melodies. Upon his death, Malayalam music became orphaned.
In the mentioned song, three genius (s) are at their work meticulously sorta friendly battle- Vayalar Rama Varma, Ma Saraswathi Susheelamma & of course G. Devarajan.
മാനം മണ്ണിന് മനസ്സില് കുരിക്കുമീ
maanam mannin manassil kurrikkumee
മാനസപ്പൊഇക ധന പൊക്കിത്താമര
ദാഹം അജ്ഞാത ദാഹം
നിദ്രയുടെ പിന്നിലെ നിവ്രുതിക്കുള്ളിലെ
നിത്യപ്രീമമാണൊഅ പ്രഎമമാണൊഅ (മോഹാലസ്യം)
koopaththil nirayum daaham
daaham ajnaatha daaham!
nidrayude pinnile nirvrthikkuLLile
nithyapreamamaanoa? praemamaanoa (mohaalasyam..)
മൌനം വാചാലം മൌനം
സ്ര്ഷ്റ്റിയുടെ പിന്നിലെ സ്വപ്നത്തിനുള്ളിലെ
vreelaavivasayaai maaril chaayumee
mounam, vaachaalam mounam
srshtiyude pinnile swapnaththinullile
What is that I am addicted to in this song: It’s simple. music, voice & importantly the lyrics with a generous dose of sanskritism. G. Devarajan let Susheelamma and Vayalar play around each other with their own extraordinary abilities and there was born a hidden masterpiece. The single violin preludes-interludes-postludes add a mystical beauty (swaarasyam – സ്വാരസ്യം ) to the song. Another forgotten Devarajan gem, it has a perfect blend of sangeeta and sahitya in each sections such as pallavi and charanas. Simple poetic words (with deep undertones) of Vayalar feature in the sahitya with a sustained balance of raga, bhava is maintained between the music and the words throughout. Listen to Ma Saraswathi Susheelamma’s beautiful and distinctive tone, flawless vocal dynamics when she sets the pace with “mohaalasyam madhuramamoru mohaalasyam” (മോഹാലസ്യം മധുരമാമൊരു മോഹാലസ്യം) and ends in “mounaththinenthoru swaarasyam” (മൌനത്തിനെന്തൊരു സ്വാരസ്യം).
For a veteran like G. Devarajan, he chose to keep his orchestration simple, nothing complex or out of the ordinary, but yet very creative – an atmospheric ambience, quite ethereal. However what astonishes me is the way he had extracted the essence of nectar from our Ma’s voice word by word & syllable by syllable (audibility-diction-clarity). She carries the weight of the song on her shoulders. Once Vayalar’s words passes through Ma’s vocal chords, they acquire a special tonal significance in “maanasappoykathan pokkilththaamara- koopaththil nirayum daaham” (മാനസപ്പൊഇക ധന പൊക്കിത്താമര ക്കൂപത്ത്തിനിരയും ദാഹം).
In first charana the phrase “daaham ajnaatha daaham”(മൌനം വാചാലം മൌനം) is particularly effective in its schizophrenic changes of mood and shows her extraordinary ability to make something out of almost nothing. Notice Ma’s agility, speed, convincing expressions – her rock-solid techniques again at full display, the hallmarks of Ma Saraswathi Susheelamma’s voice. She displays melodramatic power, emotional delivery and vocal grace in equal parts while ending the charana “nidrayude pinnile nirvrthikkullile nithyapreamamaanoa? gaayaka nithyapreamamaanoa?” (നിദ്രയുടെ പിന്നിലെ വ്രുതിക്കുള്ളിലെ നിത്യപ്രീമമാണൊഅ ഗായക നിത്യപ്രീമമാണൊഅ എമമാണൊഅ). The voice has a beguiling freshness and warmth to it and how nicely she interprets Vayalar’s lyrics breathing life into the song with her “phrasing” extracting sympathy from her audience. Incredibly Pure Tone!
The second charana is no less different and set in the same tempo – “vreelaavivasayaay maaril chaayumee veenayilaliyum mounam” വ്രീളാവിവശയായ് മാറിചായുമീ വീണയിലലിയും മൌനം) cascading into “mounam, vaachaalam mounam” (മൌനം വാചാലം മൌനം) resulting in a continual alteration of emotions which finds a brief moment of respite in the central sections of the composition (for percussion). Watch again for the vocal hues and the pitch in “srshtiyude pinnile swapnaththinullile swargadhyaanamaanoa gaayaka swargadhyaanamaanoa” (സ്ര്ഷ്റ്റിയുടെ പിന്നിലെ സ്വപ്നത്തിനുള്ളിലെ സ്വഗധ്യാനമാണൊഅ ഗായക സ്വഗധ്യാനമാണൊഅ ധയാനമാണൊഅ) – those ringing high notes just take your breath away in this song and no one else not now and ever can come closer to this ultra perfect rendition.
Maestro Devarajan and his Soprano Susheelamma created a personal synthesis and a new fluidity – in which expressive vocal urgency is unquestionably the dominant aspect.
I call this, a nostalgic souvenir of a golden era of Malayalam film music.