In my earlier post on this same subject, I had explored Ragamalikas in film songs mainly taken from the mythological category. (You can read that post here) In this post we will explore Ragamalikas that were used in a social setting.
Music directors have used ragamalikas in love songs. One way of going about is to equate the various ragas with the seasons. As the seasons change the ragas change. Also in the hands of an imaginative music director, changing ragas can also be used to depict various shades of love.
The first ragamalika which was a India wide hit was 'haayi haayiga' from Suvarna Sundari. This song, its Tamil counterpoint and the Hindi version 'kuhu kuhu bole koyaliya' were super hits in their respective languages. Even to this day they are famous and the overall difficulty of the song, its great melody and the multiple ragas make it a favorite in singing competition. If you can negotiate this song without difficulty you must be a great singer.
Tuned by Adinarayana Rao and sung wonderfully by Gantasala and Jikki, here is 'haayi haayiga'. As you can see the changing seasons are used here to change the ragas.
Here is the Hindi version sung by Lata and Rafi. I am so used to the Telugu version that I cannot relate to the Hindi version, especially Rafi's singing. I feel he shouts a bit too much in this song. Lata on the other hand is fine.
And for the youngsters, here is a very very young Shreya Ghoshal singing the same song:
The number of ragamalikas composed in Hindi film music are very less compared to what is done in South. It could be due to the fact that ragamalika is not used much in Hindustani music whereas almost all Carnatic concerts have a ragamalika in the later half of the concert: as kalpanaswarams in RTP, in slokam/viruththams and as ragamalika compositions. We will see one ragamalika from a Hindi movie here, tuned by Anil Biswas for the film 'Hamdard'
Anil Biswas uses the seasons as the backdrop as he changes the ragas. Anilda was at his peak during the early 50s and was a much sought after music director. Manna Dey is the male voice and he had the reputation of a being a good classical singer (which some people question). He is joined by Lata. It is a very young Lata but she is undaunted by either Anilda or by Manna Dey and hits each note with her customary precision.
From Lata, we will move to Susheela and two of her duets with SPB. In both we see the season and the weather being referenced. Both are excellent melodies and Susheela's voice is in top form. Both the songs convey the joy of love very effectively.
The first song we will listen to is from the movie 'Pantulamma'. Music is by Rajan Nagendra. SPB in one TV show told that certain portions of this song were so difficult that Susheela asked Nagendra, "How can we sing this?". Nagendra patiently taught her and Balu the song many times. The song hits a six right from the prelude humming. Susheela's voice, as usual, drips honey. The melody is outstanding, the orchestration fresh and the change in ragas very interesting. This song used to be played on regular on Vividh Bharati when the movie was released.
I may have stated this earlier: One of life's enduring mystery is how did Chakravarthy compose this song? I mean, if you have heard many of Chakravarthy's 'hits' you will also ask the same question and will not find the question unfair. 'Cheekati Velugula Kougitilo' from 'Cheekati Velugulu' is an outstanding ragamalika which can stand up to any other ragamalika in terms of its tune, orchestration and the raga choices. The way the tune keeps changing, the way the orchestration changes and especially the precision of the orchestration, all point to the hand of a master, which Chakravarthy was not. Hence the confusion. This is one of my personal favorites and you will not find ragamalikas of this quality when it concerns the love song. Susheela and SPB complement each other perfectly.
For the next song, there is no doubting the composer's abilities. Illayaraja has composed some nice ragamalikas but much less than what I would have loved. This is perhaps one of his best ragamalika for a love song. Starting with Abheri, it moves to Bageshree and in the second charanam moves to SumaneesaRanjani. The interludes are amazing with Raja ensuring the raga transition is tastefully done. K J Yesudas and Chitra are perfect.
The next two songs are technically ragamalikas but have just two ragas in it. The first one has music by MSV. He starts with a rare ragam, 'Mahathi', a discovery of Balamuralikrishna and ends with Bhairavi. The name of the raga Bhairavi is wonderfully woven into the narrative by Kannadasan. This was one of Yesudas's early hits on Tamil:
We have already heard the next song in my 'One Song at a time' series earlier but it is such a wonderful song that I am sure you will excuse me for including it again. V.Dakshinamurthy takes a tough carnatic raga, 'Begada' and turns it into a lovely film melody, He follows it with Kalyani. This song is a major is a major hit among Malayalis. Earlier I had shared the Janaki version of this song. Now we will listen to the KJY version:
Talking about V.Dakshinamurthy automatically should take you to this lovely ragamalika. Dakshinamurthy Swami was a master of ragamalikas. This song was featured in my tribute to him but since this article is about ragamalikas I cannot leave it out. Starting with a lovely Sahana, Swamy takes us into the territory of the charming Shanmukhapriya and from there on to the verdant Kalyani land before bringing us back safely to Sahana. KJY is in peak form and Leela's voice is a great contrast to his.
And before I wind up this edition, let me put up the ragamalika which has become the competition favorite. Along with 'Sringaravelane Deva', this song too appears in almost all singing competitions. A bewitching Srividya, Kannadasan's amazing lyrics, unforgettable tuning by MSV perfectly executed by Vani Jayaram: what is there not to like in this song?