Some carnatic ragas have inherent resistance in adapting to film music. They cling to their carnatic character tightly. Ragas like Begada, Sahana, Bilahari, Kedaragowla, Surati, Anadabhairavi, Bhairavi etc. are examples. (I have spoken about this in a earlier post as well.) Film music has its own set of genius music directors who were able to adapt such 'tough' ragas to film music successfully. We have earlier in this blog discussed Dakshinamurthy Swamy's adaptation of Begada, S.Rajeshwar Rao's adaptation of Bilahari and Illayaraja's take on Todi. Today we will talk about one more such 'tough' raga: Natakurunji. This raga also clings tightly to its carnatic character. The added challenge is the fact that it is easy for this raga to stray from this raga into other ragas under the flimsiest of pretexts. (Whenever I try singing Natakurunji I stray easily into either Shankarabaranam or Neelambari!!! Ofcourse that says more about my singing ability than anything else.) It is easier to use this raga in 'classical' situations in films (like a bharathnatyam dance) but not so easy in more 'filmi' situations. The song we will see today accepts the challenge and comes out trumps.
I did not know about this song 'thira nurayum' from the movie 'Ananthabhadram' till a few days back. I was watching a program on Asianet, "Jesudas-50", a program to commemorate Jesudas being in the film music field for 50 yrs. In this program, the actor Manoj K Jayan sang this song. I was very impressed. Both by his singing and also by the fact that the tune was in 'Natakurunji'. They had announced the name of the movie, so the search in youtube was easier. I remember my family members watching this movie at home on DVD but as is the general watching procedure, songs were probably done in fast forward mode. (That program also had other actors like Kavya Madhavan, Suresh Gopi and Naren singing and singing well, much to my wife's astonishment. "How come all of them are singing so well", she asked. I was also surprised.)
When i checked this song on the net, I saw that the music was by M.G.Radhakrishnan, which didn't surprise me. Radhakrishnan has given lot of lovely songs based on ragas like Kadhanakuthukalam, Sahana, Reetigowla etc. No wonder he tuned Natakurunji so well. There have been Natakurunji based songs before but many of them, as I said earlier, are for a more 'classical' setting. Rahman did come up with "Kannamoochi Enada" but before you can savor it, the taste of Natakurunji is gone in the charanams. That song is a nice song but we cannot hold it up as an example for 'Natakurunji'. For our song of the day, we will have no such compunction. It is an excellent example of Natakurunji.
I first give you the link with the visuals. This has the complete song.
This link has the visuals. The visuals are a combination of the occult and the erotic. The actor in this song is the same guy who sang the song on stage, Manoj.K.Jayan. The original song is sung by Jesudas