Monday, May 30, 2011


Sometime back I had posted in this space about the most popular Indian radio program of the 20th century,viz., Binaca Geetmala, aired by Radio Ceylon. (Refer Binaca Geetmala, Radio Program No.1.). I had mentioned that HMV had come out with CDs and cassettes of the entire Binaca Geetmala program in the 70s. Unfortunately I was not able to collect them. Instead I had two LP records released to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the program.
But there is good news for lovers of old Hindi film music in general and those old timers like some of us in particular, who have nostalgic association and longing for old film songs, old radio programs etc. During the last one year Saregama India Ltd.has released 5 sets of 5 audio Cds each( total 25 volumes), each CD covering one volume, titled " Geetmala ki Chhaon Mein". The Cds are based on Binaca Geetmala programs from its early beginnings upto the year 1966 with beautiful commentary,as in the original program,, by none other than Sri Ameen Sayani himself, the greatest Indian RJ ever, who compered the original Binaca Geetmala Program on Radio Ceylon. Volumes subsequent to the year 1966 are also expected to be released by Saregama in due course.

The five sets of CDs. have been beautifully designed, attractively packed in thick file board for durable use, printed with details of songs in each CD/Volume, with photo of the ever smiling Ameen Sayani and the nostalgic radio set which once used to be the only musical device in most households. Each volume has been sweetly/invitingly named like, e.g.,'Yaadgar Geet 1957','Treasured songs of 1960','The musical journey begins', 'Hits and Misses of 1955' etc

Words fail to describe the richness of the content of the CDs. Each audio CD contains around 15 hit songs of the period along with flashes of several other equally beautiful songs all of them, though sweet and loved, had escaped one's memory due to lapse of time and non availability except , perhaps, on the internet.Listening to the CDs, these wonderful songs strike you as fresh and sweet as ever taking you nostalgically back to those golden era of Hindi film music.Just as in the Binaca Geetmala programs each song is presented by Ameen Sayani with interesting anecdotes, incidents, tit bits, and about the sacrifices the creators of the songs had made to make them what they are.Live excerpts from Ameen Sayani's candid interviews with the great singers, music directors, lyricists,producers, directors, stars and responses from listeners from all walks of life are also included. Listeners are once again getting a chance to be mesmerised by the sweet, evergreen voice of Ameen Sayani. It is great that his voice has not lost its original timbre which we were all happily familiar with.On listening, the Cds gave me almost the same pleasure as that I got while listening to the Binaca Geetmala of old. Apart from the intrinsic value of the music on these Cds, they give us a glimpse of the history of Hindi film music and the trends and developments in the industry during the period.Yes, the Cds are golden vintage wine!!

I have been able to collect all the five volumes released over a period. Right now all of them are available in leading music shops in the country. A must buy set of albums for the connoisseurs. My grief, as usual, is that the albums are not on LP records !!

P.S.:The CDs are best for listening at night . I stack them in my Five CD Panasonic music system, lie back and listen with memories flooding the mind, till sleep overtakes!!

Update as on the 31st August 2011.

'Sa re ga ma' has since released the 6th set of Geetmala ki Chhaon Mein', comprising, as usual, five volumes in five CDs (volumes 26 to 30). The songs, bits and flashes cover a period of 3 years, 1967,68 and 69. The CDs offer great nostalgic value and some of the songs, not heard nowadays, but had made lasting imprint in one's heart are there. A must buy packet!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


A much talked about and sensational Malayalm movie of the 70s was AVALUDE RAAVUKAL directed by I.V. Sasi and released in the year 1978 by Murali Movies. The film was sensational and path breaking because it was for the first time the subject of prostitution was boldly handled as the main theme of a film in Malayalam. The film had M.G.Soman and Seema in the lead roles ably supported by Kuthiravattom Pappu. The story of the film was widely publicised and the posters, especially showing the young and beautiful Seema wearing only a long sleeved shirt, were seen everywhere. Naturally the film attracted huge crowd wherever it was screened making it a big box-office hit of the decade.

Apart from the direction of I.V.Sasi, fine portrayal by Soman, stunning debut of Seema and the award winning performance of Kuthiravattom Pappu as her 'Rickshawallah cum pimp', the beautiful musical score by A.T.Ummer (lyrics by Bichu Thirumala) also contributed to the success of the film. The melodious,'Rakendu kiranangal' by S. Janaki continues to be a favourite melody in stage programs and reality shows. The song 'Unni Aariro' by Janaki was equally wonderful. The third song,'Andarindriya dahangal' by Jesudas is considered to be one of the most original tunes of Malayalam films. A.T. Ummer had given us a number of beautiful songs in films like THEKKAN KAATTU(Priyamullavale ninakkuvendi)ANGEEKARAM(Neelajalasayathil),AABHIJATHYAM(Vrishchikarathrithan),
SINDOORAM(Oru nimizham taroo ninnilaliyan), ANIYATHA VALAKAL(Oru mayilpeeliyay) and so on. His favourite singers were Jesudas and S.Janaki though other singers also had sung a number of songs for hm.

I have a few records of A.T.Ummer's films. One important record is that of 'KALYANAPANDHAL' a Vidhubala starrer. I bought this record for the song 'Maanasaveenayil nee onnu thottoo, Mani nada mandaram poovittoo'(മാനസ വീണയില്‍ നീ ഒന്ന് തൊട്ടു; മണി നാദ മന്ദാരം പൂവിട്ടു') melodiously and softly sung by an unsung singer K.C.Varghese. Though it was a great song it was eclipsed by Jesudas's 'Chanchala chanchala nayanam' which became more popular and the song,' Maanasaveenayil' and the singer K.C.Varghese was soon forgotten. The record, but, keeps a special place in my collection just for this song.

Now the anticlimax. I had purchased the record of ' Avalude Raavukal' when the songs of the film were riding the top of the popularity chart, especially the song,' Raagendu kiranangal oliveesiyilla' considered to be one of the all time hits of S.Janaki. It was around this time that I also got a record of the Hindi film 'Swami'(1977), a Girish Karnad-Shabhana Asmi starrer with music by Rajesh Roshan. This was bought by me mainly for the song, 'Ka karoon sajni aaye na balam', a sweet semi-classsical beauty of Jesudas. But when I heard the song,'Pal bhar mein yeh kya hogaya', by Lata from this film I was immediately reminded of the song,'Rakendu kiranangal' and I found that it was a carbon copy of the Hindi song, track, tune, notes, nuances and all. There can be similarity of tune etc. but this was an out and out copy. I used to wonder how a music director like Sri A.T.Ummer who had given outstanding original hits in a large number of films can do this. I got the answer recently while reading the Malayalam book 'Mozhikalil Sangeethamayi' by Sri Ravi Menon. Yes, the song is a carbon copy of the Hindi song and the circumstances under which it was copied by the producer and director of the film and how Sri Ummer had to reluctantly agree to his name being used as its composer are revealed in the book. Not only this song, the other song ' Unni aarariro' was also a copy of the Lata song,'kah rahe hey yeh arzoo' from film 'Gheel ke Uspar" with music by R.D.Burman. A sad predicament of a music director who composed the outstanding song,' Andarindriya dahangal' for the same film.

'Rakendukiranangal', though a copy, continues to be a very popular Malayalam film song.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


One of the much talked about films of the early 70s was Hrikesh Mukherji's 'GUDDI', starring Dharmendra and Jaya Bhaduri. Apart from the fine performance of the lead actors, what made the film win big critical acclaim was the musical score of Vasant Desai (lyrics: Gulzar) and the enchanting song 'Bol re papihara' magnificently sung by Vani Jairam. The song based on classical raga (Miyan Malhar I am told) was authoritatively sung by her in spite of her South Indian background and it was an instant hit heard on the radio frequently. The song fetched Vani Jairam several awards notable among them being the Miyan Tansen Samman for the best classical song from films. The song became so popular that it eclipsed the two other outstanding songs, especially ' Hamko man ki sakthi dena',of the film. In fact with 'Hamko manki and Bole re papihara' , Vani Jairam gave a new dimension to bhajan singing in films and these two songs came to be rated as two of the best classical raga based songs/bhajans from Hindi films comparable to Lataji's ' Allah tero naam (Hum donon- Jaidev), Kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya (with Rafi, film Suvarna Sundari-P.Adi Narayana Rao) and Jyothi Kalash chhalke (Bhabhi ki chudiyan-Sudhir Phadke).

It was, probably, her undisputed talent for singing bhajans/classical songs that made Pt. Ravishankar give her thirteen of the fourteen songs of film MEERA for which he tuned the poems of Meerabai. In fact the 14th song was an 'aalap' by Dinkar Kaikini. It is a rare honour for a singer to sing all the songs of a film and that too when the music director was none other than Pt. Ravishankar. The songs of the film fetched the Filmfare award in 1979 for best music. The LP Album of Meera was released by Philips through Polydor India Ltd in 1972. The quality of recording in Stereo is excellent and the jacket is aesthetically designed and sets it apart from the usual. The special twofold jacket with beautiful front and back designs has a centre spread and a couple of inlay cards containing line sketches and narratives on the life and myths about Meerabai, the ultimate devotee of Lord Krishna. The most appealing among the wonderful bhajans is,'Mere to Giridhar Gopal' beautifully sung by Vani Jairam. All this makes this LP album a must possess one for collectors and a favourite one for bhajan lovers.

But in spite of her unquestionable singing talent and her singing for several music directors including Madan Mohan, Naushad, Lakshmikant Pyarelal, O.P.Nayyar and so on, Vani Jairam could not make it big in Hindi films. She had, probably, ruffled too many important feathers with her talent that she also had to face the predicament of several singers like Jesudas, MannaDey, Talat, Hemant Kumar, Suman Kalyanpur and so on and she shifted to the south to concentrate on South Indian films of all languages. She went on to bag several National Awards for best singer in the 70s and 80s for films, APPORVARAGANGAL, SANKARABHARANAM and SWATHIKIRANAM.

Vani Jairam had made her mark in Malayalam films also in the 80s and 90s,two of her best songs being Aashadamasam(Yudhabhoomi) and Seemantharekhayil (Aashirvadam).

PS. Saw Vaani Jairam last week as a judge in a popular music reality show in a Malayalam channel. Great that she has not lost her voice, zest and love for music. Her singing 'bole re papihara' and several of her hit songs in a medley was a treat to the ears. on the pictures for zooming.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Director V.Shantaram and his classic films

Looking back, I started taking a mentionable interest in films and film music from the middle of the 50s after our family got settled down at Kozhikode in 1954. Prior to that my cinema experience was confined to seeing a rare Malayalam film in the company of my parents. Proximity to theatres, friends who talked about films, availability of news paper at home, opportunity to read magazines like FilmIndia, Screen, Filmfare, Illustrated Weekly, Sports and Pastime etc. in the Central Library and other reading rooms and the chance to listen to the radio ( Not at home.We got a radio,UMS P3, only in 1960) all helped in kindling an interest in films and film music. Besides the film reviews by 'Cinic', 'Kozhikodan' etc. in Mathrubhumi Weekly were read and discussed with keen interest .

A distinct memory about those days was the film 'Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje' (1955) directed by V. Shantaram with dancer Gopi Krishna and Sandhya in the lead roles.The film had won the Filmfare award for the best film and best direction and art direction and was getting rave reviews in the press . The hand painted, printed posters of the film had appeared all over the walls days before its release in Kozhikode and the beautiful songs tuned by Vasant Desai could be heard on Radio Ceylon and Binaca Geetmala.The title song,' jhanak jhanak payal baje' sung by Khan Saheb Amir Khan and chorus and the duet(Lata, Hemant Kumar)'Nain so nain' and another duet(Lata, Manna Dey) were huge hits.The film, in colour, and based on the theme of dancing(mainly Kathak) was a visual treat and what remained firmly in my mind about the film was the sight of dancers spinning, like tops, on their toes and then striking a pose!! The LP record of the songs was released in 1982. The hand painted picture of the dancer(Sandhya) can be seen on the jacket of the LP record.

Shantaram became a highly rated director and film maker and he followed up with the internationally acclaimed film,' Do Ankhen Barah Haath' which
won the National Award and the Silver Bear Award at the 8th Berlin International Film festival. The film dealt with the concept of open jail and showed the protagonist( Jailor) played by Shantaram himself taking a few hardened criminals from the closed prison to the open jail and reforming them and rehabilitating them as normal human beings. He was ably assisted in the task by his romantic interest played by Sandhya.Two scenes from the film are still in my mind. One, the prisoners singing the bhajan,'Yeh Maalik Tere Bande Hum' and Sandhya playing a small fiddle singing the song,'Saiyan jhooton ka bada sartaj nikhla' and dragging a toy drum tied to her dress. Both songs by Lata and tuned by Vasant Desai were very popular those days.

Another highly acclaimed film, NAVRANG, again based on the theme of dance and music, with Mahipal and Sandhya in the lead roles was released in 1959. The beautiful music by
C.Ramachandra was the highlight of the film.Singer Mahendra Kapur had three songs, two duets with Asha and a solo,viz."Shamal shamal baran', komal komal charan'.The duet 'Aadha hai chandama raat aadhi' has many admirers even today.

V. Shantaron who had founded the Prabhat Pictures and later Rajkamal Kalamandir went on to make many m
ore films under this banner. Subah ka Tara, Stree, Sehra,Toofan aur Diya, Geet Gaya Patheron ne, Mousi are some of them. V.Shantarm became an icon of Indian film industry and a household name among film goers, and was conferred with Dada Saheb Phalke Award in i985 and the Padmavibhushion in 1902. The gramophone Co. of India Ltd. had come out with an outstanding LP record titled,'Musical Highlights from Rajkamal Kalamandir', offering some of the best known songs from his films. The lilting duet of Lata and Talat,' Chamka chamka subhah ka tara' (Subhah ka Tara) and the soulful Talat song ,'Woh zalim pyar kya jaane'(Parchhain) both tuned by C.Ramachandra are there in this album to make it a collector's item. In fact C.Ramachandra and Vasant Desai were his favourite music directors though in his later films like 'Sehra' and 'Geet Gaya Patheron ne' music was done by Ramlal.

PS.Please click on the images for zooming.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vasu Pradeep-Kozhikode's own artist.

I had in my post(February 2011) on MamuKoya mentioned about Vasu Pradeep, a close friend and associate of Mamukoya and had stated that his contribution to Malayalam art and drama has not been given due recognition.

I opened the newspaper of the 4th April to be greeted with the sad news of his passing away at a private hospital at Kozhikode. Vasu Pradeep and his 'Pr
adeep Arts', situated on the S.M.Street, were part and parcel of the Kozhikodan life in general and Kozhikodan art, drama and literature in particular. I had seen Vasu Pradeep walking through the streets of Kozhikode in the 60s and early 70s and had talked to him a few times with some of my friends of those days like Ravi and Gopi who had close association with Kozhikodan stage those days. We used to wonder at his deep knowledge in art and drama and his association with the outstanding personalities who used to visit Pradeep Arts. The newspaper reports on his death give a glimpse of the man and his contributions.

One more typical Kozhikodan personality mentioned in Mamukoya's biography and a part of the glorious Kozhikodan past has vanished into memory.

P.S. Please click on the paper cuttings for zooming.