S.Janaki’s songs in Malayalam – Part V


The Nightingale in God’s Own Country- Part V


Carrying glowing testimonials from actress Sheela who had perceived his capabilities when he worked for her Tamil movie ‘appa amma’ (1974), Samuel Joseph alias Shyam made a grand entry the same year in Malayalam cinema with Madhu’s ‘manyasri viswamithran’, and thus commenced a memorable era where melody ruled the airwaves… a melody that sprung forth from MSV’s mystique and soaring high, found its moorings in Salilda’s effervescence. And need I say that the torchbearer of this enticement was Janaki? Right from his first Malayalam outing, in which Janaki sang the memorable duet ‘kanavu neithoru’ with the late K.P. Brahmanandan, Shyam singled out Janaki to bring alive his panoramic creations….and so she did, in scintillating style. The popularity enjoyed by the songs of ‘manyasri viswamithran’ prompted Madhu to assign the music of his next venture too to Shyam and ‘akkal dhama’ (1975) had Janaki and Brahmanandan rendering the title duet. The next year had Janaki essaying diverse fare in Shyam’s music- the Mohan-Vidhubala starrer ‘njavalpazhangaL’ (1976) had 2 songs by Janaki- the solo ‘thurakoo mizhi thurakkoo’ and the duet ‘ammE ammE makkaL’ with Jayachandran. The Kamalhasan-Madhu-Srividya starrer ‘samasya’ had songs composed by K.P. Udhayabhanu and Shyam. Janaki sang the solo ‘adithottu mudiyOlam’ for Shyam. Glowing quietly with the pious fervour of Janaki, the mellifluous song has long outgrown its filmy origins and over the years acquired an aura as a mandatory anthem in religious festivities.


Listen to ‘adithottu mudiyOlam’ from samasya (1976)
Sung by S. Janaki
Lyrics by P.Bhaskaran
Music by Shyam

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‘saritha’ came out in 1977 with Janaki singing ‘hEmanthathin’ for Shyam. 1977 also saw the coming together of Shyam and Director I.V. Sasi, a partnership that would bring may unforgettable albums. ‘abhinivEsam’ with Jayan, Ravikumar, Soman, Sumitra and Padmapriya in its cast was the first movie that Shyam worked for I.V. Sasi. It had the popular Yesudas- Janaki duet ‘mareechikE mareechikE’. Endowed with the haunting signatures that we joyfully associate with Shyam, the song has earned itself a place of pride in the list of most popular duets of Yesudas and Janaki. Listen to Janaki take over a complete interlude!


Listen to ‘mareechikE mareechikE’ from abhinivEsam (1977)
Sung by Yesudas & S. Janaki
Lyrics by Sreekumaran Thampi
Music by Shyam

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Shyam had become the in-house composer for Madhu, and their next venture ‘dheera sameerE yamuna theerE’ (1977) had Janaki and Yesudas singing the title track, and Janaki rendering the solo ‘manassintE thalukkalkidaiyil’.


The late 70s and early 80s were the golden years in Shyam’s career, and most of Shyam’s 200 odd Malayalam albums would come under these glorious years. Since Janaki was an inevitable presence in many of them, it warrants pages of panegyrics if we were to dwell at length on all hers songs for Shyam. In view of this, I will, albeit regretfully, mention here only few samples of the enduring Janaki-Shyam collaborations. ‘rathilayam rathilayam’ with Yesudas (asthamayam/1978), ‘mEdamasakkalam’ (enikku njyan swantham/1979), ‘kanathE nee vannu’ (ini yathra/1979), ‘OrmakaLil’, a rare SPB- Janaki duet and the melancholic Janaki solo ‘mouna raaga painkiLiyE’ (sudhikalasam/1979), ‘paLLiyankanathail’ (kanthavalayam/1980), ‘kaNNum kaNNum’ with Yesudas and ‘Life is just like’ with Jomon (angaadi/1980), ‘kaNNil kaNNil nOkiyirunaal’ with Yesudas (nayattu/1980), ‘usha malarE’ (aswaradham/1980), ‘chanchal noopura thaaLam’ (hamsageetham/1981), ‘Ormavacha naaL muthal’ with Yesudas and ‘makanE vaa’ (ammakkorumma/1981), ‘ee pattinnu chirakukaL’ (grihalakshmi/1981), ‘manjE vaa madhu vidhu vELa’ with Yesudas & SPB (thusharam/1981)- the Malayalam original of ‘paniyE vaa panju mazhaiyE vaa’, ‘prEmaraagam paadivannoru’ (kadathu/1981)… hands may tire trying to list the wonders that Shyam wrought in Janaki’s honeyed vocals, but the heart seems to thirst for more and more…


And as though to quench this craving came I.V.Sasi’s ‘trishna’ starring Mammootty, Ratish, Swapna and Rajalakshmi. With a wave of a wand called Janaki the spell that Shyam cast in Yaman Kalyan ‘shruthiyil ninnuyarum naadha shalabangaLE’ leaves the listeners in a tantalizing trance. But come out of it soon, for even more delightful is the enchantment that is ‘mainaakam’. mainakam is said to be the name of the winged undersea mountain that we encounter in our epics, and just like that mythical mountain that was endowed with magical powers, this song is nothing short of a miracle….Oh, mere words cannot do justice to describe the simple beauty of the composition… Shyam’s concepts that reflect a happy marriage of MSV’s art with Salilda’s craft were never so perfectly aligned in their elements. And the mesmerizing magic of Janaki was never so bewitching in its expanse…. I have been listening to this song for over a quarter century now…. and I surprise myself even now by detecting some dainty Janaki flourish that that was hitherto hidden to me… Close encounters of the ethereal kind…


Listen to ‘mainaakam’ from trishna (1981)
Sung by S. Janaki
Lyrics by Bichu Thirumala
Music by Shyam

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niRam maaRunna nimishangaL aa divasam, idiyum minnalum, sindoorasandhyekku moounam, aadarsam, enthinO pookkunna pookkaL, aarambam, innallenkil naaLE, veLicham vidarunna peNkutti, John Jaffer Janardhan- all these are Shyam’s albums of 1982 wherein the honours lay with Janaki. The same year I.V. Sasi came with his controversial ‘ee naadu’. But even in the midst of the serious proceedings, Shyam inserted a rumbustious carnival…. a wedding song that solemnizes the nuptials in the three religions… Yesudas rocks in the maapla opening, J.M. Raju then woos his bride, and Jayachandran finally completes the pretty picture with ‘thaaLam, mELam, naadhaswaram’… need I say that Janaki is the bride in all the faiths, having an absolute blast… I have read that the song became hugely popular and was blared at every wedding at that time…


Listen to ‘ambili manavaatti’ from eenaadu
Sung by S. Janaki, Yesudas, J.M. Raju, Jayachandran & Chorus
Lyrics by Yusuf Ali Kacheri
Music by Shyam

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1983 brought with it so many treasures from the Shyam- Janaki team like ‘thErirangi idhilE varoo’ with Jayachandran (America America), ‘sundaramaam kanmunayal’ and ‘nee varillE’ (theeram thedunna thira), ‘Romeo Juliet’ with Krishnachandran (enginE nee maRakkum), ‘kanni thennal pOlE’ with Yesudas (bandham), ‘paradEsakkaaranO’ with Jolly Abraham & Unni Menin (adhipatyam), ‘mounam raagam manassO’ with Yesudas (iniyengilum) and ‘lily pookkaLaadum’ with Jayachandran (himam). And as for 1984, it was even more special, for it brought in its wake another delectable treat served by the composer and singer in I.V. Sasi’s ‘kanamarayathu’ starring Mammootty, Rahman, Seema & Shobhana. Languid and graceful in its flow, ‘kastoorimaan kurunne’ is but a wistful reminder of a past when life itself was uncomplicated and unhurried…


Listen to ‘kasturimaan karunne’ from kanamarayathu (1984)
Sung by S. Janaki
Lyrics by Bichu Thirumala
Music by Shyam

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‘karutha thOnikkaara’ (aksharangaL), ‘entE manOmayee’ with Yesudas and ‘vinnin veLLippookkaL’ (inakkiLi), ‘chilangE’ (oru sumangaliyudE katha), ‘nilaavin poigayil’ with Yesudas (kodathi), ‘alli malar’ (aaLkoottathil thaniyE) and ‘thalarannu Oridam tharoo’ (chakkarayumma) were songs that hogged the airwaves all through 1984. And in the same year came the musical ‘sandhyekkenthinu sindhooram’ starring Mammootty, Nedumudi Venu and Seema, with an endearing cameo by Balamuralikrishna. Shyam had worked to create a classical treatise, and while Yesudas and Balamuralikrishna lit up the album with their scholarly performances, it was Janaki with her nonchalant artistry who bestowed upon the album a boon of immortality with her ‘chanthamerina poovilum’, ‘marubhoomi chOdhichu’ and ‘manassin aarohanam’.


Listen to ‘manassin aarOhanam’ from sandhyekkenthinu sindhooram (1984)
Sung by S. Janaki
Lyrics by Kavalam Narayana Panicker
Music by Shyam

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The following years saw albums like ee thanalil ithiri nEram, pachaveLicham, jeevantE jeevan, iniyum katha thudarum, oru sandhEsam koodi, maanyamahaajanangaLE, nilavantE naattil and moonu maasangaLukku munpu where Shyam continued to set aside some wondrous melodies for Janaki. And as in the case of many other composers, Janaki remains the female singer to have cornered the most number of Shyam’s compositions in Malayalam. Shyam does has a place of honor in the history of Malayalam film music, particularly the chapter covering the decade from the mid 70s to the mid 80s, and Yesudas and Janaki were the vocal catalysts who catapulted him to that coveted glory.

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