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Composition Extraordinaire & Voice Immortal Series – 16
Panchavankadu – പന്ച്ചവന്കാട് (1971) – “Manmadha Pournami Manmgalyam” – “മന്മഥ പോവേര്നാമി മന്മ്ഗല്യ” – Raga “Kalyani (കല്യാണി) – Composed by G Devarajan (ഗ ടെവരജണ്ണ്) – Voice: P Susheela (പുലാപക സുശീല)
“I cannot be defeated when I’m immersed in the Ganges of music” – Maestro G Devarajan (Nadhabrhamathin)
“No other singer has sung my compositions as she (P Susheela) has. The rendering has been perfect,” – Composer G Devarajan
“He (G Devarajan) offered the best of melody and harmony” – Composer Johnson
“Beneath his tough exterior, there was deep concern for human beings. But for his (G Devarajan) help and patronage, many like me would not have made it to the recording industry” – Composer Ouseppachan
“He (G Devarajan) made my words dance with his magical music” – Lyricist O.N.V. Kurup
“The maestro (G Devarajan) was in the forefront of changing society through art” – Journalist K Santosh
Produced, directed and distributed by Kunchako of Udaya Studios, Panchavan Kaadu is a 1971 Indian Malayalam film starring Prem Nazir, Sathyan, Sheela and Sharada in lead roles. The film crew included some famous names of that era including Vaikom Chandrashekaran Nair aka Vaikom (Story), Thoppil Basi (Screenplay) & G. Devarajan (Musical Score) while Editing & Cinematography were handled by SPS Veerappan & R C Purushothaman respectively.
Plot: Travancore King Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (of Venad Kulashekara Dynasty) defeated the Ettuveetil Pillamar (Kazhakoottathu Pillai, Ramanamadhom Pillai, Chempazhanty Pillai, Kudamon Pillai, Venganur Pillai, Marthandamadhom Pillai, Pallichal Pillai and Kolathur Pillai – Lords of the Eight Houses). Before the destruction of the Pillamar, legend has it that Marthanda Varma married the only sister of Ramanamadhom Pillai. From this marriage a daughter, Kochu Thankachi, was born to Marthanda Varma. But, after defeating Ramanamadhom and the other Pillamar, Kochu Thankachi and her mother rebelled against Marthanda Varma, to avenge the death of their brother and uncle respectively. The film is based on the story of unsuccessful rebellion led by Kochu Thankachi (played effectively by actress Sheela) along with Kochu Kurup (Prem Nazeer ) against Marthanda Varma, in which both were killed. K P Ummer acted as King Marthanda Varma, Sathyan as Padanayakan or Army Chief. Actress Sarada also played a key role in the film.
The Crew: Kunchacko’s Udaya Studios produced 4 films: ‘Vellinakshatram’, ‘Nalla Thanka’, ‘Jeevithanauka’ and ‘Visappinte Vili’. Jeevithanauka (1951), starring Thikkurissy Sukumaran Nair was a commercial box office success and ran for 250 days. It was no looking back and Kunchacko went on to produce Achchan, Avan Varunnu and Kidappadam under the banner of Udaya. Kidappadam was a commercial failure, and that made Kunchacko to close down Udaya Studio for a while. However, it was revived again within a few years ably supported by an acquaintance. In 1960, Kunchacko ventured into film direction with “Umma” which he followed with “Neela Saari” and “Seetha”. He went on to direct 40 films in his career of many genres including Mythology, Vadakkan Pattu, Comedy and Societal-Themed films. Some of his notable films are “Bharya”, “Unniyarcha”, “Palattukoman”, “Sakunthala”, “Pazhassiraja”, “Mainatheruvi Kolacase”, “Ponnapuram Kotta”, “Anarkali” and “Kannappanunni”. Kunchako tasted success both as a Producer & Director. Directors like M. Krishnan Nair (Agni, Mrigam, Kattuthulasi), A. Vincent (Gandharva Kshethram), Thoppil Bhasi (Oru Sundariyude Katha, Ningalenne Communistakki) and K. Raghunath (Laura Neeyevide) have collaborated with Kuchako’s production house- Udhaya Studios.
Author of over 60 books in Malayalam, Vaikom Chandrasekharan Nair, popularly known as Vaikom (വൈക്കം), was an eminent writer and journalist. Born in Vaikom, in Kottayam District of Kerala, he started writing early in his life and became an activist of the communist party during his college days. Vaikom was a multi-faceted personality – a poet, journalist, playwright, novelist, actor, orator, singer, artist, and activist. He has been the editor of various magazines such as “Janayugam”, “Malayala Manorama”, “Kerala Bhooshanam”, “Kaumudi”, “Pouraprabha”, “Kunkumam”, “Chithrakarthika”, “Kumari”, and “Keralam”. Some of his famous novels like “Nakhangal”, “Panchavankadu” and Madhavikkutty” were turned into movies. The play “Jathugriham” won the the Kerala Sahithya Academy award in 1980. In 1999 he was given the Kerala Sahithya Academy Award for Lifetime Contribution.
Thoppil Bhasi (playwright, screenwriter, and film director) was associated with the communist movement in Kerala and his play “Ningalenne Communistakki” (You Made Me a Communist) is considered to be a groundbreaking event in the history of Malayalam theatre. Thoppil Bhasi’s dramas, “Mudiyanaya Puthran” and “Puthiya Akasham”, “Puthiya Bhumi” were awarded the Kerala Sahithya Academy Awards He was also the recipient of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Fellowship in 1981, Professor N Krishna Pillai Award and the Soviet Land Nehru Award. Thoppil Bhasi was prolific in terms of his creative output during his active years in theatre and movies. He authored 16 full-length plays, screenplays for over a 100 movies, directed 16 movies and his autobiography was titled, “Oliviley Ormakal”.
Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma: Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma (1706 – 7 July 1758) of the Venad Kulashekara Dynasty was king of Travancore from 1729 until his death in 1758. He was the only Indian King to beat the European armed force at the 1741 Battle of Colachel against the Dutch. He contributed substantially to the expansion of his ancestral domains by annexing several neighbouring states and unified the entire south of Kerala. According to historians, Marthanda Varma was not only a shrewd tactician and a great king but also an able military general. After crushing the power of the feudal lords, he turned his attention to the neighbouring states. Besides decisive military victories, Marthanda Varma brought about administrative reforms within the state revenue, budgetary and public works sectors amongst others. The Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple was re-created as the gigantic structure of today and new state ceremonies such Murajapam, Bhadra Deepam and others were introduced by Marthanda Varma. The main idol of the shrine, which was mostly destroyed in a fire during his predecessor’s time, was also re-constructed using saalagramaas imported from Nepal. He also created Ottakkal Mandapam as well as the Sheevelippura. Out of the seven floors of the temple- gopuram, five were finished during his reign. As a result of the annexation of neighbouring places, the artists and scholars from these places migrated to Trivandrum, turning it into a cultural centre. Marthanda Varma gave patronage to different temple art forms including Koothu, Paadhakam, Kathakali, Thullal and Koodiyaattam. Despite his ruthless diplomacy and military exploits, Marthanda Varma decided to dedicate his realm to Sri Padmanabha or Vishnu and thereafter rule as the deity’s vice-regent.
Ettuveetil Pillamar: The Ettuveetil Pillamar (Lords of the Eight Houses) were a group of nobles from eight Nair Houses in erstwhile Venad in present-day Kerala state, South India. The Eight Lords were Kazhakoottathu Pillai, Ramanamadhom Pillai, Chempazhanty Pillai, Kudamon Pillai, Venganur Pillai, Marthandamadhom Pillai, Pallichal Pillai and Kolathur Pillai. The Ettuveetil Pillamar, aided by the Ettara Yogam, became the supreme power in Venad to such an extent that the sovereign needed their permission even to construct a palace for himself at his capital. They gradually grew from ordinary landlords to powerful chiefs and allied themselves with the Ettara Yogam. The late Rajah of Venad left two sons, Padmanabhan and Raman Thampi and a daughter Ummini Thankachi. These children known as the Kunju Thampis now staked claim to the throne, in spite of the prevailing Marumakkathayam law (which said that a king would be succeeded by his sister’s eldest son). Recognizing a dangerous foe in the intelligent and decisive Marthanda Varma, the Pillamar supported the Kunju Thampis. They furnished them with enough money and men to seek aid from the Pandyas of Madurai. However Marthanda Varma managed to avert war by bribing away the Pandyan army. Soon after this Padmanabhan and Raman Thampi were captured and killed at Nagercoil Palace (It may be stated that according to a popular folklore, Marthanda Varma’s enmity towards the Kunju Thampimar was because of their refusal to allow him to marry their sister. It is said that Ummini Thankachi killed herself after the execution of her brothers to escape Marthanda Varma). The Pillamar plotted once again to murder the king. The Eight were either killed or exiled after sufficient evidence of conspiracy and murder was procured. Their houses were subject to “Kulamthondal” (dug up) and all their assets and armies seized by the victorious Marthanda Varma. Their women and children were sold to the fishermen of the coast as slaves. The two palaces at Thiruvananthapuram, known as Ramanamadhom and Thevarathu Koikal were constructed from the wood and material of the palaces of the Pillamar (however later Historians have disputed the traditional stories associated with Pillamar dismissing them as folkore).
The Composer: G Devarajan: The “Grand Sire” of the Golden Era of Malayalam Film Music
With his heart deeply rooted in Communist ideals, a strict traditionalist, interpretationalist and a musical purist Paravoor Govindan Devarajan (പരവൂര് ഗോവിന്ദന് ദേവരാജന്), popularly known as G. Devarajan scored music for 337 Malayalam films & 12 Tamil films was a major force to reckon with in Malayalam film music and laid the substratum for it. Journalist K Santosh aptly describes the man & his music – “He was perhaps the first composer whose oeuvre defined and exemplified light music in its truest sense, broadening the emotions of the medium and reflecting the aspirations, agonies, joys and hopes of Kerala society”. Many of his compositions (all original) have been simply termed “immortal” and have withstood the tides of time. He was credited for composing film songs in maximum number of Carnatic “ragas”. His breadth of knowledge in Carnatic, Hindusthani or Folk music was simply astounding. He would infuse western harmonies in compositions deviating from the classical orthodoxy without desecrating the lyrics, retaining their true value.
Born at Paravur, Kollam district in Kerala, Devarajan (lit. translated King of the Celestials) rendered his first classical concert at the age of 18. He was soon attracted to the Communist movement and decided to dedicate his creative energy for popular music. He joined the once famous drama troupe of Kerala, the Kerala People’s Arts Club (KPAC). The work that brought him to limelight was the drama song (composed & sung by himself) titled “Ponnarivaal Ambiliyil Kanneriyunnoole”, written by his associate O. N. V. Kurup. KPAC and its members had a distinctive leaning towards the communist ideology, and their dramas did play a role in spreading the ideology among the Keralite masses. Through his compositions, Devarajan could cast an indelible imprint in the Malayali theatre arena, especially after the famous KPAC drama “Ningalenne Communistaakki” written by Thoppil Bhasi in 1952.
He became an independent composer with the film “Kaalam Maarunnu”, in the year 1955. The acclaimed lyricist Vayalar Rama Varma – Devarajan collaboration came to fruition with the film “Chathurangam” (1959). The movie “Bharya” (1962) was considered a milestone for both Vayalar & Devarajan. Thereafter the duo teamed up to produce some of the imperishable compositions such as “Vasantharaavinte”, “Odakuzhalum”, “Kaathe Vaa Kadale Vaa”, “Periyare Periyare”, “Kannuneer Muthumay”, “Marakkumo Enne”, “Paalazhikidavil”, “Edhu Kadalilo, “Urukiuruki”, “Thamara Kulakadavil”, Iniyente Inakkili”, “Parakkum Thalikayil”, “Muthusikkadha”, “Ashtami Rohini”, “Tharattu Paadadhe’, “Penkodi Penkodi”, “Kai Niraya Valayitta”, “Kaatil Ilam Kaaatil”, “Veetil Oru Thram”, “Swapnathilenne”, “Ekantha Kamukan”, “Priyathama”, “Shaarikapaithale”, “Malini Nadhiyil”, “Sapthsaagaraputhrigale”, “Muttathe Mullayil”, “Kalichimaaratha Kaalam”, “Chitrakaarante Hrudayam”, “Poovittu Poovittu”, “Mayilaadum Mathilakathu”, “Premakavithakalae”, Ezhu Sundara, “Akashangalilurukkum”, “Himavaahini”, “Mayilpeeli”, “Vellichirakulla”, “Njan Piranna Naatil”, “Anjyatha Gaayika”, “Vilichu Njan”, “Omanathinkal”, “Thinkalum Kathiroliyum”, “Mizhi Meen Pole”, “Urakam Varadha”, “Kilukilukam Kili”, “Sindhoora Meghame”, “Chethi Mandaram”, “Paathirapakshigale”, “Vadhuvaranmaare”, “Thappukottampuram”, “Parashuraman Mazhuverin”, “Seethadevi Swayamvaram”, “Kalyana Sougandhika”, “Thuranitta Jalangal”, “Daaliya Pookale”, “Yaamini Yaamini”, “Ellorum Paadathu”, “Pachamalaiyil”, “Madhyvenalavdhiyayi”, “Pooja Pooja”, “Karayathe Muthe”, “Paamaram Palungu”, “Kaveriponthennale”, “Naazhikamaniyude”, “Varshameghame”, “Poonthenaruvi”, “Sravana Chandrika”, “Maalakhamaar”, “Mallike Mallike”, “Palliyaramana”, “Abhinandanam”, “Raja Shilpi”, “Kaathuvannu”, “Mohalasyam”, “Chandrakiranam”, “Udhayagrikottaiyile”, “Eeso Mariyam”, “Navami Mahanavami”, “Sooryakantha”, “Yakshiamabala”, “Nalacharithrathile”, “Pranayakala Vallabha, “Kaidhapuzha”, “Onnam Ponnona”, “Maathave”, “Sanchari Swapna”, “Aakasham Mungiya”, “Neelambujakshimaare”, “Paathirathanupu”, “Poovukalku Punyakaalam”, & “Pachakarpooramalaiyil”.
Poet Vayalar: Vayalar Ramavarma (1928-75), often known as Vayalar, was a modern Malayalam language poet and lyricist from the southern Indian state of Kerala. His famous works include “Sargasangeetham”, “Mulankaadu”, “Padamudrakal”, “Aayisha”, “Oru Judas Janikkunnu”. He was awarded Kerala Sahithya Academy Award (Kerala literary academy award) in 1961 for Sargasangeetham, the President’s gold medal for best lyricist in 1974, and the Kerala state film award for best lyricist three times. Vayalar wrote about 2000 songs for 223 Malayalam movies and for several plays. Among his most popular songs is the one he wrote for theatre, the KPAC naatakagaanam, “Balikudeerangalae”. Many of his poems contain romantic notions about “revolution” and about the triumph of science over religion. He was associated with the leftist political movement in Kerala. The “Vayalar-Devarajan” was a prolific lyricist-composer combination which lasted till the death of Vayalar.
Raga Kalyani: “Kalyan” or “Kalyani”, alternatively called “Yaman”, is a melakarta (65th) rāga (parent musical scale) in the Carnatic music, and is also an important raga in Hindustani music tradition. Kalyani is slightly difficult to elaborate on in raaga alapana due to its similarity with Sankarabharanam with the only difference of the Madyamam (Ma). Kaḷyāṇī is a very beautiful raaga, and is prominently known & identified when performed. The notes used in this scale are shadjam, chatushruti rishabam, antara gandharam, prathi madhyamam, chatushruti dhaivatam, kakali nishadam. It is a Sampurna raga in Carnatic music, that is to say, has all the seven notes: Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni. It is the prati madhyamam equivalent of Dheerasankarabharanam, which is the 29th melakarta. This raga is very significant to the chart, because it is sung with all higher notes. Kaḷyāni has many janya rāgams (derived scales) associated with it, of which Hamīr Kaḷyāni, Mohanakalyani, Saranga, Sunadavinodini and Yamuna Kaḷyāni are very popular. Kaḷyāni is also considered one of the “major” rāgams of Carnatic music along with Sankarabharanam, Todi and Kharaharapriya (the set of “major” rāgams is an informal grouping of the most popular rāgams used for elaboration and exploration, and which often form the centerpiece of a Carnatic music concert in the form of a Rāgam-Tānam-Pallavi (RTP) or a (Kriti). Kalyani’s notes when shifted using Graha bhedam, yields 5 other major Melakarta rāgams, namely, Hanumatodi, Sankarabharanam, Natabhairavi, Kharaharapriya and Harikambhoji. Some of the major kritis of the Trinity are – ‘Kamalambam Bhajare’ one of the Kamalamba Navavarnas of Muthuswamy Dikshitar, ‘Nidhichala Sukhama’, ‘Vasudevayani’ of Thyagaraja, ‘Talli Ninu Nera’ of Shyama Shastri, ‘Pankaja Lochana’ of Swati Tirunal are among the well- known. Besides the heavy classical kritis, there are Padams, Javalis, Tillanas and light devotional compositions in this raga.
Soundtrack: The soundtrack had five songs which were rendered by P. Susheela, K J Yesdas & P Madhuri namely “Manmadha Pournami” (P Susheela), “Shrungara Roopini” (P Susheela), “Rajashilpi” (P Susheela), “Kallipalakal Poothu” (K J Yesudas) & “Chuvappu Kallu” (P Madhuri). The composition ”Rajashilpi” was a chartbuster and remains popular & evergreen among the masses.
“Manmadha Pournami” – Poet Vayalar’s unadulterated verses (Sanskrit infused) was set to tune in Raga “Kalyani” by Devarajan’s and was reverently rendered by his favorite songstress P Susheela in her immeasurable supernal vocals.
മന്മഥ പോവേര്നാമി മന്മ്ഗല്യ ചാര്ത്തിയ
മാര്ഗഴി മാസമേ ഈ ഹൃദയ രണ്ജിനിയാം
വീന്നയില്ല് പകരൂ മദന കല്യാണി രാഗം
manmadha pournami manmgalyam chaarththiya
hridayaranjaniyaam veenayil pakaroo
മനസ്സിലെ നവരത്നവിളക്കില കൊളുത്തി
മധുരസ്മരണതന്ന് തിരികള്ള് പിന്നെയും
തിരിക്കല്ല് തിരിക്കല്ല് കര്പൂരതിരിക്കല്ല്
manassile navarathnavilakkil koluththi
madhurasmaranathan thirikal, pinneyum
thirikal thirikal karppoorathirikal! (manmadha..)
പുത്തനണ്ടാപുരത്തിലെ സ്വപ്നശയ്യ ഗൃഹത്തിലെ
പ്രണയ തപസ്വിനിയാം എന്നില്ല് വിറ്ററ്ത്തില്ല്
പ്രധ്ഹമചുംബനപ്പൂക്കല്ല് പൂക്കള പൂക്കള
puththanandapurathile swapnashayya gruhathile
pranaya thapaswiniyaam ennil vitarththil
pradhhamachumbanappookkal, pookkal pookkal
kumkuma pookkaL (manmadha)
Music connoisseurs are aware of Tamil film composer K V Mahadevan’s “Kalyani” masterpiece titled “Mannavan Vandhanadi Thozhi” (with its intricate swara patterns & jathis perspicaciously rendered by P Susheela) from the 1967 Tamil feature film “Thiruvarutselvar” and which served as a “barometer” for future cinematic composition in the same raga. Maestro Devarajan’s present composition in “Kalyani” paints a different “hue” of the raga & rather hinges on his “manodharma” (extempore components).
The songstress’s empyreal voice inaugurates the first lyrical phrase “മന്മഥ പോവേര്നാമി മന്മ്ഗല്യ ചാര്ത്തിയ മാര്ഗഴി മാസമേ” – “manmadha pournami manmgalyam chaarthiya maargazhi maasame with the quiddity the raga demands. In “ഈ ഹൃദയ രണ്ജിനിയാം വീന്നയില്ല് പകരൂ മദന കല്യാണി രാഗം” – “ee hrdayaranjaniyaam veenayil pakaroo madanakalyaani raagam” – the soprano seizes the sharp notes and schlepps out the raga’s complexion (starting & resting points) with great acumen.
The maestro’s genius is evident (refulgent interpretation) in the second lyrical phrase with “പത്മനാഭാപുരത്ത്തിലെ ന്ര്ത്തസഭാതലത്ത്ത്തിലെ ക്രിഷ്നശിലാ വിഗ്രഹങ്ങള” – “pathmanaabhapuraththile nrththasabhaathalathththile krishnashilaa vigrahangal” – consummated by the southern nightingale’s vocal dynamics (that protraction in “krishnashiila vigrahangal”). – a canticle by itself. Her unsurpassed exegesis in “മനസ്സിലെ നവരത്നവിളക്കില കൊളുത്തി മധുരസ്മരണതന്ന് തിരികള്ള്” – “manassile navarathna vilakkil koluththi madhurasmaranathan thirikal” is simply hypnotic. As she descends – തിരിക്കല്ല് തിരിക്കല്ല് കര്പൂരതിരിക്കല്ല് – “thirikal thirikal karppoorathirikal” – her vocal skate (slither) is sovereign and her phrasal docking utopian.
In the third lyrical stanza – (again) the rhythmic-melodic structure of the second lyrical phrase is retained. The Sanskrit infused verses – “പുത്തനണ്ടാപുരത്തിലെ സ്വപ്നശയ്യ ഗൃഹത്തിലെ പുഷ്പസരസൗകുമാര്യം” – “puththanandapurathile swapnashayya gruhathile pushpasarasoukumaaryam”- sparkles in her pulchritudinous vocal sound (especially that ‘soukumaaryam”). As she ascends to “പ്രണയ തപസ്വിനിയാം എന്നില്ല് വിറ്ററ്ത്തില്ല്പ്രധ്ഹമചുംബനപ്പൂക്കല്ല്” – pranaya thapaswiniyaam ennil vitarththil pradhhamachumbanappookkal” – she conquers the vernacular with such avidity. The embellishments in “പൂക്കള പൂക്കള കുമകുമ പൂക്കള” – “pookkal pookkal kumkuma pookkal” cannot be quantified – pure nirvana!
The southern Nightigale adds another crown jewel to her vast repertoire!