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.