“Veene Paaduga Priyatharamai” – Seetha (1960) – Malayalam Feature Film

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Faded Into Oblivion Series by Vicky Iyengar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

“Veene Paaduga Priyatharamai” (വീണേ പാടുക പ്രിയതരമായ്‌ ) – Seetha (സീത  1960)- Lyrics: Abhayadev (അഭയദേവ്) – Voice: P Susheela (പി സുശീല) – Composer/Music : V Dakshinamurthy (വി ദക്ഷിണാമൂര്ത്തി) – Carnatic Raga : Aabheri – കര്ണാടിക് രാഗ : ആഭേരി (ഹിന്ദുസ്ഥാനി – ഭിംപ്ലസ്/हिंदुस्तनि भीमपल्स )

A Heart Wrenching Pathos from the Southern Nightingale P Susheela!

The song was adapted from Composer Shankar Rao Vyas’s original tune “Beena Madhur Madhur Kuch Bhol” – “बीना मधुर मधुर कुछ बोल” (Ram Rajya-1943) rendered by Smt. Saraswathi Rane in Raga Bhimplas which is included above.

“Seetha” is a 1960 Indian Malayalam language Feature film, directed and produced by Kunchacko, based on the 1943 movie Ram Rajya by Vijay Bhatt. The film stars Prem Nazir, Kushalakumari, Thikkurissi Sukumaran Nair and Hari in lead roles. The film had musical score by Venkateswaran Dakshinamoorthy.  Nambiathusseril Varkey John (14 October 1927 – 17 July 2014), better known by his screen name Sasikumar wrote the screenplay. He apprenticed under Director Kunchako (Udaya Studios) during his formative years. Sasikumar acted in supporting roles in films – Thiramala, Sreerama Pattabhishekam, Velakkaran, Thommante Makkal, Seetha, Snehadeepam, Umma, Bhakta Kuchela, Snapaka Yohannan, Kattumaina, Visappinte Vili, Oral Koodi Kallanayi etc.

Vijay Bhatt’s Hindi/Marathi bilingual Bharat Milap (1942) and its sequel Ram Rajya (1943) are regarded as the most successful screen adaptations of the Ramayana. Ram Rajya has the unique distinction of being the only film to have been watched by Mahathma Gandhi in his life. Ram Rajya is a 1943 Hindi mythological film, directed by Vijay Bhatt, with Prem Adib, Shobna Samarth (in the lead roles of Rama & Sita), Umakant Desai & Saraswathi Rane. It was the third highest grossing Indian film of 1943.  It also has the honor of the first Indian movie that premiered in the USA.  Shobna’s first film was “Orphans Of Society” (1935) also called Nigahe Nafrat or Vilasi Ishwar for Kolhapur Cinetone, directed by Vinayak and starred Vinayak and Baburao Pendharkar. The film was not a success but Shobna was critically acclaimed for her role. By the end of 1937, Shobhana left Sagar and joined General Films, acting in Industrial India (Nirala Hindustan) directed by Mohan Sinha with Prem Adib and Wasti. The second film for them was Pati Patni (1939) directed by V. M. Gunjal with co-stars Yakub, Sitara Devi and Wasti. By 1939 she had joined Hindustan Cinetone making four films with them, which included Kaun Kisi ka (1939) and Saubhagya (1940) by C. M. Luhar, Apni Nagariya (1940) by V. M. Gunjal. She then worked for a film directed by her husband, Kumar Sen Samarth called Ghar Javai (1941) where she was cast with Damuanna Malvankar. In 1942 came her career-defining film Bharat Milap, directed by Vijay Bhatt and starring Durga Khote as Kaikeyi, Shobna as Seeta and Prem Adib as Ram. Following this was Ram Rajya in 1943, and Shoana became identified as Seeta, leading to several other films where they recreated the roles.

Two successful Malayalam films of the early period are Kunchacko’s Seetha (1960) with Prem Nazir and Kusalakumari in the lead and P. Subramaniam’s Sree Rama Pattabhishekam (1962) with Prem Nazir and Vasantha as Rama and Seetha. Both these films were unswerving adaptations of Ram Rajya (1943) and Bharat Milap (1942) respectively.

Venkateswaran Dakshinamoorthy (9 December 1919 – 2 August 2013) was a veteran carnatic musician and composer of Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi films but predominantly in Malayalam films (125 films-859 songs composed over a period of 64 years). Fondly known as Swami, he was instrumental in pioneering classical music-based film songs. Revered as one of the forefathers of the Malayalam music industry, he has mentored many of the renowned singers/composers of current times. He debuted in the film industry in 1950 with Nalla Thanka, produced by Kunchacko and K. V. Koshy under the banner of K & K Productions. His evergreen compositions include Swapnangal Swapnangale Ningal, Pattu Padiyurakkan Njan, Uthara Swayamvaram, Kattile Pazhmulam, Hrudaya Sarasile, Chandrikayil, Kaatile Paalmulam, Manohari Nin, Sowgandhigangale, Aakashamand Vathil Pazhuthilooden. Dakshinamoorthy is to be highly credited for his introduction of P. Suseela to Malayalam cinema through ‘Seetha'(1960). He has authored three books namely Thiagabrahmam (Tamil – 1965), Aathma Dheepam (Tamil – 1989) and Sathya Mithram (Malayalam – 1992).

ലിറിക്‌സ്: അഭയദേവ്/Abhayadev
വീണേ പാടുക പ്രിയതരമായ്‌
വേദന തിങ്ങും മാനവ ഹൃദയ
കഥകള് പാടുക നീ പ്രിയതരമായ്‌
പോലും കരളിന് മധുര സംഗീതം
പകരുക പകരുക പ്രിയ തോഴി
പുഞ്ചിരി തൂകി പാടുമ്പോഴും
എറിയുകയാണാ മാനസ്സമെന്നും
നെഞ്ചിനുള്ളിലൊരു തീമല നിന്നും
രാവും  പകലും എറിയുകയായി
ഒരു നാല് തീമല പൊട്ടി തകരും
ഒഴുകി വരും സഗീ ഭീകര ലാവ
വിരഹ വേദനാ ജ്വാല പൊങ്ങും
എല്ലാം ഏറിയും തകരും ഹാ
veene paaduka priyatharamai
vedana thingum maanava hrudaya
kadhakal paaduka nee priyatharamai
pollum karalin madhura sangeetham
pakaruka pakruka priya thozhi
punchiri thooki paadumbozhum
eriyukayaanaa maanassamennum
nenchinulliloru theemal ninnum
raavum pakalum eriyukayai
oru naal theemala potti thakarum
ozhuki varum saghee bheekara laava
viraha vedanaa jwala pongum
ellam eriyum thakarum haa

Tuned in Carnatic Raga “Aabheri”, this song (kite as a metaphor for someone or something escaping one’s realm of control) about loneliness was largely inspired by Rama’s troubled relationship with wife Sita after his victory over Ravana (when Rama doubts Sita’s chastity, she undergoes a trial by fire “Agni Pariksha”. Sita enters a burning pyre declaring that if she has been faithful to Rama let the fire not harm her; she comes out unscathed with the fire-god Agni as proof of her purity).

“Veene Paaduka Priyatharamai” – The scene is set with a minute and-a-half of ambient Veena  & fragmented mosaic of Godly images in the scenario,  this standout track from “Seetha” depicts – life cycle through endearment, disenchantment, indignation and yearning again. Over the years, the Indian celluloid have had many very talented musicians and song writers that have poured their hearts out into their work. We are fortunate that because of them, there’s a philanthropy of music that comes from their forlornness & tribulations.  P Susheela through her potent and efficacious rendition  (that tumultuous crescendo in “ellam eriyum thakarum haa” and the moment you will tear up) makes it easy for the listener to fill in their own tragedy  as it relates  to estrangement – bleak enough to bring you down. The song sequence pictured on Kusala Kumari (as Seetha) is during her period when she felt distraught and emotionally drained due to the segregation from Prem Nazir (as Rama).

Susheela’s unrivaled vocals portrays different facets of  Sita’s dejection, repressing desires (“eriyukayaanaa maanassamennum”) & emotional distress that she was  experiencing – the loneliness &  triggered memories while Rama is struggling to reconcile his responsibilities as a married man, with such alacrity. She appealingly uses her voice (aided by the instrumental Veena) to careen between glory and sadness (“pakaruka pakruka priya thozhi”), making it an absolute tearjerker.  Finally, Susheela’s lyrical interpretation (the poignancy and the emotions of the situation) reminds us that misery is eternal and inevitable.

This isn’t her most celebrated song, but I’ve always found it deeply moving…….

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