Monday, December 9, 2013

Two songs for the Music Season

It's December and Music Season time. Ofcourse anyone who knows a bit about Carnatic music knows that season refers to the unorganized music festival held all over Chennai during this month. Once Music Academy starts its programs around the 15th of Dec, the season will be in full swing. It is a different experience being in Chennai during this time but that is not going to be the purpose of this post.

I am going to give you a couple of delightful Telugu songs based on Carnatic ragas. While the last couple of posts extolled the virtues of Dakshnimaurthy Swami's tuning of carnatic based ragas, this post will showcase the brilliance of two Telugu composers. Composers those days had a good grounding in classical music and were able to come out with some nice songs which had the classical touch, strong enough for you to feel the raga and light enough for you to enjoy it as a film song.

This year the Music Academy gives its 'Sangeetha Kalanidhi' to Sudha Raghunathan. She is a disciple of the legendary M.L.Vasanthakumari. So let me start with a song sung for a Telugu film by MLV. I still remember a brief debate long back in RMIC where one person had commenting on a Hindustani singer singing in movies stated that classical musicians did not know how to lighten a tune and sing in films. Rajan Parikkar was quick on the draw. "What about MLV?" The reply was equally quick, "You have a point there. I concede" MLV knew how to sing in movies and her voice suited the movie songs very well. She has sung many song and the song 'Ellam Inbamayam' set to Simendramadhyamam was a very popular song and is still well known.

The song I have chosen is from the film, 'Bhookailas'. If someone says he has not heard of this movie or the songs from this movie, you can be sure he is not a Telugu. Such is the popularity of this film and the songs. The Ghantasala sung songs are the most famous and this song is not as famous as the other songs of the film.

R.Sudarsanam, who has given some great songs, tunes this in Sankarabaranam and lets MLV voice execute the magic. You can hear Sankarabaranam but at the same time it is not a kutcheri type Sankarabaranam. MLV gives it a breezy feel, a feather touch to enhance its appeal to all segments of the audience. The tune covers quite a lot of Sankarabaranam ground and as the charanam starts meandering into the upper reaches you realize why someone like MLV is needed to deliver it. In the film the song is addressed to Lord Siva and is sung by Ravana's mother. Enjoy the song.

The next song I want to take up is based on the raga Malayamarutham. While it is a fairly well known raga, its appearance on the concert platform is limited nowadays. Maybe because of lack of lot of krithis in the raga or maybe because it evokes the morning hour and singers want to sing it only in the morning !! In case you don't get to hear the song in the concerts hear this song and you will satisfied.

This Pendyala tuned Malayamarutham number is an extremely famous one from the film 'Uyyala Jampala'. Pendyala has given some very nice classical based tunes in many movies (I had spoken about his famous 'rasika raja' earlier in this series). The raga so casually evokes the early morning mood. Pendyala orchestrates the song to gives us the feeling being in a boat. Infact the tune too oscillates the same way as a boat would oscillate. As usual Gantasala invokes the raga with minimal fuss. There are very few who can get to the soul of a raga in cine music like Gantasala. This song is proof enough for that statement. Susheela's singing, especially the humming, adds so much more melody to this song. Lyrics by Arudra are superb as well.


Kamal Aakarsh Vishnubhotla said...

Lovely post about two classics. The first one is by the legend, about whom we are not even qualified to talk. Superb rendition.

The 2nd one is no less. I never tagged it to malayamarutham till I read this post and thanks to your post, it now looks elementary. wonder how i missed it all along.

Pch, the lyrics too are so nice. I really experienced beautiful Telugu while listening to it. Something that I do not experience often.

Suresh S said...

Thanks Kamal

Yes, the cacophony that passes for music nowadays doesn't let us hear the words clearly. In some ways, given the lyrics, it is a blessing!!

Sad that with a lyricist of Setharama Sastry around, Telugu film industry is unable to give us songs which have a strong Telugu feel.

Venugopal said...

Long gap..but a good trap!
For me, MLV's thillana from Chori Chori(certainly, it must be a composition by Sudarshanam, not SJ) and javali (Neeventa nerajaanavouraa) from Jayabheri( composed by Pendyala) take to high altitudes.
True or false, what I heard was that Pendyala initially composed 'Kondagali tirigindi' in Mohanam. Before rendering it, Ghantasala suggested to try Malaya maarutham, since "kondagali' literally means 'malaya (konda) maarutham (gaali). Much before that, the first composition in Telugu in malayamarutham must be 'O malaya pavanama', a duet wrote and composed by the living legend, Dr Balantrapu Rajaneekantha Rao (AIR famous, more than 90 years old now)and sung by R.Balasaraswati Devi and M S RamaRao.

Suresh S said...

Guru garu,

Very nice information. I have not heard those two MLV songs. Will listen to them soon.

That is a nice anecdote on how Malayamarutham came about :)

rads said...

Loved "kondagali" :-) For everything, those days were magic!

Suresh S said...


Thanks for the comment.

I am not one of those "Those were the days" guys but as far as Telugu film music goes I belong to that club. What is coming out today is pure junk.

Anonymous said...

Great work!
You should also consider doing a full analyze of thyagaraja swami similar to the one on dikshidar

Anonymous said...

Suresh- nice piece of writing again! These ancient telugu songs are something I rarely get to sit down to listen to these days..thank you so much!

I really loved the the Malayamarutham ragam. Minimal orchestra and no percussion seems to really let the lyrics and the ragam render the magic. I looked up and learnt that this is same as the Hindusthani Kalavathi that I heard some, although I felt it is different. May be the telugu lyrics tugging something inside me :)

Wonderful post!

Murthy (TSN)