“Gokulapala Gopakumara Guruvayoorappa” – Rowdy (1966) – 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.

A Devotional Hymn in Raga Sankarabharanam That Showcases P Susheela’s Vocal Elegance & Virtuosity

No other singer has sung my compositions as she (P Susheela) has. The rendering has been perfect,” – Composer G Devarajan`s Tribute to The Southern Nightingale!

“To say that Vayalar Rama Varma was merely a political poet would be unjust to him. He was a poet, above everything” – Jnanpith Awardee Poet O.N.V. Kurup

Vayalar Rama Varma’s dulcet lyrics “Gokulapala Gopakumara”  from the Malayalam motion picture “Rowdy” (1966) directed by K S Sethumadhavan (starring Sathyan, Sheela, Adoor Bhasi, Muthukulam Raghavan Pillai and BK Pottekkad) is undeniably a pièce de résistance. A euphonious hymn tuned in carnatic Raga Sankarabharanam by Maestro Devarajan, it happens to be a quaint and a theistic piece that struck an instantaneous rapport with the audience. Poet Vayalar Rama Varma who made balladry a dilettante’s domain, is arguably the most eminent, distinguished & celebrated lyricist Malayalam cinema has seen. From songs of the insurrection to passionate numbers and spiritual hymns, he has written lyrics for over 1,600 songs. Many of his lyrical stanzas, though banausic, pack a humane & unfathomable innate philosophy.

Libretto: Poet Vayalar Rama Varma
ഗോകുലപാല ഗോപകുമാര് ഗുരുവായൂരപ്പ
വാകച്ചാർത്തും തിരുവുടലാഴകും
കാണാറാകേണം കൃഷ്ണ (ഗോകുല)
തിരുമുൽകാഴ്ചയായ് നടക്കു വെച്ചീടുവാൻ
കൈയ്യിലേക്കുമ്പിളിൽ കാലത്തു തീർത്തൊരു
കണ്ണുനീർമുതല്ലോ കൃഷ്ണ (ഗോകുല)
മുക്തമാണികൾ നൽകാനിവിടെ മേല്പത്തൂരിലാ
പൊൻതേന്മൊഴികളിൽ കർണ്ണാമൃതം തൂക്കാൻ
കാലമാണ് കാളിന്ദി നീന്തി വരുന്നൊരു
ഗോപികയല്ലോ ഞാൻ ക്രിസ്‌നാ (ഗോകുല)

Befittingly referred to as Raga Rajasya Melakaha” in the Chaturdandiprakasika” that is supposed to evoke “shrungara rasa”, Sankarabharanam (Major Diatonic scale, or the C Major of Western Classical System) enjoys a sovereign status in the realm of Indian classical music.  Presented in simple melodic structure by Devarajan, the oeuvre and its aesthetic embellishments with  subtle woodwind and veena strings captures the nuances of the raga with such depuration.

With his heart deeply rooted in Communist ideals, a strict traditionalist, interpretationalist and a musical purist, 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.

Susheela’s faultless enunciation of the lyrics – “vaaka chaarthum thiruvudal azhakum kanaaraa kenam krishna” – sought to accentuate and bring out the sweeping exquisiteness of Vayalar’s masterpiece. Blessed with a divine and orotund voice, she sang from the heart with such reverence and piety devoid of deliberate theatrics.  She conveyed the essence of devoutness with requisite poise – “kaiyyilekkumbilil kaalathu theerthoru kannuneer muthallo krishna” – quite mellifluous and sublime!

Susheela’s unmatched virtuosity and her cajoling – “muthagamanikal nalkaanivide melppathoorillaa poonthenmozhikalil karnnaamrutham thookaan” – the honeyed classicism, the emotive quality are evident in this enchanting rendition. Her unconditional surrender, a display of vidwat kaalamaam kaalindi neenthi varunnoru
gopikayallo njaan krishna” – stands testament to her vocal savoir-faire.

Listen to this celestial hymn, an adoration of Lord Krishna in P Susheela’s analeptic vocals, and your sorrow will melt away…….

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