Category Archives: Indian Film Music

Rajinikanth Intro songs – Part 1

We are merely days away from the launch of Rajinikanth’s next blockbuster, “Kabali.” With music by Santhosh Narayan, the trailer has already been a huge hit racking over 20 million views in the matter of weeks. The songs have also become a rage with its innovative and local sounds concocted by Santhosh. While we wait with bated breath for the movie, here is a trip down the memory lane of Rajinikanth’s introduction songs over the years.

 A big part of the allure of many a Rajini movie has been the title track, also known as the “Rajini intro song” This song which appears at the beginning of the movie is what introduces the Superstar to its audience. It typically boasts a strong message and is set to peppy beats. This is after all the song that will resonate from cities to towns to villages for months to come. Many other stars have tried the intro song to limited success. No one does style like Rajini and a song that is designed to showcase all of that is just a perfect start to the movie. This song is the life-sized portrait of the star in that movie, captured in a Pallavi and a couple of charanams. From the dozens of Raja compositions to the few Deva and ARR pieces, this intro song stands as the historical reference to the movie for years to come.

In the first of a two part series, I am going to attempt to chronicle some of the most enjoyable Rajini intro songs from the eighties. This is a daunting task. As I added one, yet another popped up as equally worthy. In the end, this is not a “best ever” list. Instead, it is what has lasted all these years, fresh in my memory. So here we go.

The Eighties
While there will never be the one greatest intro song, there has never been a dispute on the one that started it all. Rajini’s first major blockbuster, the one that catapulted him to superstardom also bore testimony to his first ever intro song. “Podhuvaga en manasu” from “Murattukalai” has its place in the books. And it shall never be forgotten. Only played over and over again.

 As a side note, there is the awesome intro song, “Engeyum Eppodhum” for a Rajini movie in “Ninaithale Inikkum” but Rajini really plays a secondary role in the movie and the song isn’t shown as a classic Rajini intro piece. But an awesome song nevertheless. As a side, side note, if you are looking for a non-song BGM driven start to a Rajini movie that is epic, look no further than Netrikkan.

After the 1980 release, Murattu Kalai, Rajini had a slew of releases in the next few years that didn’t make use of the intro song to full effect. Surprising move and maybe a missed opportunity in hindsight. Audience had to wait three long years before the next big intro song kicked in. And what a song it was. Set to tune by Raja and sung with full gusto by Malaysia Vasudevan in a career defining song, “Aasai Nooruvagai” from Adutha Varisu deliver a blockbuster for Rajini. In today’s terms, it doesn’t carry the message driven introduction but it is a powerful entrance if any. And yes, with a lot of glitter 😃

This was followed by yet another 3 years of no solid Rajini intro song (while he churned out half a dozen movies a year, many of which were big hits). The next intro song was ironically for a damp squib of a movie, Maaveeran where the intro song doesn’t kick in until about 30 minutes of the movie. This song, “Vangada Valanga” in a rudimentary form offers the hero glorifying lyrics that will come to be a signature trait of the intro song in future years. The year 1987 brought us Velaikkaran which kicked off with a message-laden “Velai illadhavan” While 1988 boasted big hits in the form of “Guru Sishyan” and “Dharmathin Thalaivan”,and early 1989 gave us the beautiful “Malayala Karayoram” from “Rajathi Raja”.

The Nineties
One could argue that this was the decade that had Rajini in his full glory, embracing his super stardom carefully constructed over the previous decade. It all started with this setup.
“Ethanai per senjanga?”
“Oru aalu”
Then this happens. The rest as they was history. This also kicked off a prolific run of intro songs that continue to age well.

The Rajini intro songs of the nineties and the 21st century. Coming soon….

Love is in the air (Part 2) – A selection of romantic songs from old Hindi movies

A year ago to this date, I wrote a post on some classic Hindi film songs that make you feel the love in the air. Since I left that post marked as Part 1, there had to be a Part 2 and why not. Hindi cinema has offered so many wonderful romantic songs and a second collection would be well worth the curation effort. So here we go, in no particular order- some classic romantic numbers from old Hindi movies. It took me over 2 hours to put this together because there was so much joy to be hard listening to them, all over again. Hope you get the same thrill as I did putting this together.

  1. Aap ki Nazron ne Samjha from Anpadh

What a lovely song featuring the mellifluous voice of Lata at her peak. Madan Mohan composed this instant classic with some great lyrics by Raja Mehndi Ali Khan. Mala Sinha glows as a dashing young Dharmendra sets her hearts and millions more, aflutter.

2. Tum Aagaye Ho from Aandhi

This song is interesting because a different song from the same movie offers a classic “years later” perspective to the young love depicted in this song. Between “Tum Aagaye Ho” featuring Lata and the one and only Kishore and  “Tere Bina” featuring the same singers- it is hard to go wrong. Plus there is a sense of gravitas that Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar bring to this mature love story that is unparalleled.

3. Chookar Mere Manko from Yaarana

I will admit. I had a big crush on Neetu Singh growing up. And amidst a ton of awesome songs from the late 70’s-early 80’s, I wanted to push this one in. Plus an earnest Kishore Kumar backing an equally earnest Amitabh on screen is hard to pass. Rajesh Roshan weaves a soft and pleasing song that works.

4. Zindagi Ek Safar from Andaz

Shankar Jaikishan get a Kishore Kumar at his playful best belting this classic romantic song with wonderful lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri. Rajesh Khanna is at his peak. Yes, the song doesn’t really end well but enjoy the song while it lasts. It captures a fleeting love in a way unlike any other. Bonus fun are the costumes. Just watch it.

5. Piya To Se Naina from Guide

S.D.Burman produces an album for the ages. Each song drips with melody while conveying love, anguish, and eventually redemption through some spectacular music and gorgeous lyrics by Shailendra. R.K.Narayan’s wonderful tale gets full justice. So many great songs – I will pick this beautiful one featuring Lata.

6.Chingari Koi from Amar Prem

This is not your typical upbeat romantic song. These are lovers in pain- there is no hope for their love. But it does not prevent us from enjoying Kishore delivering a brilliant rendition of the song with outstanding lyrics by Anand Bakshi and tuned by S.D.Burman.

7. Isharon Isharon from Kashmir Ki Kali

From one Sharmila Tagore movie to another. This is quite the opposite from Amar Prem. A joyous love story set in  breathtaking Kashmir valley, this movie and its awesome soundtrack by O.P.Nayyar remains one of my personal favorites. Every song is wonderful. I picked this one because it offers greater depth than the rest which are good in so many other ways. And yes, Rafi saab, you are special. As is a young and bubbly Asha.

I will throw in one more piece from the same movie. Just couldnt resist. So much awesomeness from Rafi and Asha.

8.Acha Ji Main Hari Chalo from Kala Pani

How does one lose with the radiant Madhubala and a debonair Dev Anand on the screen? Throw in Rafi and Asha at their best thanks to S.D.Burman and you have a classic worth listening many many times over. Go for it.

9. Ek Pardesi mera dil legaya from Phagun

Madhubala is every man’s dream. Marilyn Monroe had nothing on her. Lata and Rafi just deliver a killer punch with such a gorgeous song set to tune by O.P.Nayyar.

10. Ude Jab Jab Zulfein from Madhumati

You want to court a lady, you do it like this. Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala set the screen afire. A song for the ages. O.P.Nayyar goes with the killer combo of Rafi and Asha again.

11. O Mera Sona Re from Teesri Manzil

A classic movie with fun plot twists along the way, Teesri Manzil is what a romantic thriller should be. It doesnt hurt to have some wonderful songs by R.D.Burman. This piece featuring Rafi and Asha has more happening than you think.

12. Yeh Ladka Hai Allah from Yaadon Ki Baraat

One of those songs that stuck with me since I was little. Yes, this movie boasts that other classic romantic song which I featured in my first collection. This one by Asha and Rafi is a lot of fun too.

13. Aye Mere Zohra Jabeen from Waqt

No, not the one from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenga. This is the original one. Love, pure and simple. Composed by Abdul Ghafoor Breshna and set to tune by Ravi, Manna Dey is just pitch perfect.

14. Raat Akeli Hai from Jewel Thief

One of those movies that just gets better with age and a soundtrack for the ages by S.D.Burman. So many great songs but this one featuring a young and gorgeous Tanuja trying to well, seduce Dev Anand is just outstanding. And Asha Bhonsle is just so darn good. Just watch her take off with “chup kyun rahiye.” So, so awesome.

15. Ek Ladki Bheegi from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

I accidentally missed this in my first collection and someone smartly pointed out. As you can imagine, I am besotted by Madhu Bala. Who wouldnt be? Ask Kishore Kumar. In song and in real life. There are shorter videos available with just the song but the foreplay is well worth a watch. What a song.  I will leave you with the words of Majrooh saab, set to tune by S.D.Burman and just perfectly sung by Kishore Kumar.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day folks! As always, all these songs and those from my first collection are in this public Youtube playlist.

Remembering Malaysia Vasudevan

This fifteenth of June,we will be celebrating the 71st birthday of the late Malaysia Vasudevan. I had always wanted to do a post on him. I was just waiting for the right excuse. No better than his birthday. You can read all about him in this wikipedia entry but I am not hear to talk about his life. I am here to talk about his music. The special voice that formed the backbone of many a Tamil hit.

Remembering Malaysia Vasudevan

Malaysia Vasudevan started his career as a stage singer at the age of eight in Malaysia. Soon, he found himself in Chennai as an actor in a tamil play. Soon he joined the Pavalar Brothers troupe, run by Ilaiyaraaja and Gangai Amaran. Vasudevan’s first big movie appearance came in the debut film of his close friend, Ilaiyaraja’s “Annai Kili” but his first big hit came soon after when he sang the song “Aattu Kutti Muttai Ittu” for Kamal Hassan under the music direction of Ilaiyaraaja for “Padhinaru Vayadhinile” Over the next 34 years, until his untimely death, Malaysia Vasudevan sang over 8000 songs, many for Ilaiyaraaja and quite a few for other music directors.

Image courtesy:

In this post, I will highlight some of my personal favorites of Vasudevan. As always, this list is incredibly subjective. Feel free to leave comments with your favorites that didn’t make this list. This list is in no particular order.

1. Pothuvaga en manasu from Murattu Kaalai

Every Malaysia Vasudevan playlist needs to start with this timeless classic from Murattu Kaalai. The first movie to portray the larger-than-life image of Rajinikanth, this song and everything about it is mounted large. The song is as rustic as it gets and much of the credit will go to the Ilaiyaraaja-Malaysia Vasudevan combo that totally rocks  this piece.

2. Poove Ilaya poove from Kozhi Koovudhu

This movie has some excellent music overall. Be it the sensual “Edho Moham” or the zany “Anne Anne”, Ilaiyaraaja has composed some interesting pieces for the movie. To me though, the standout is this Malaysia Vasudevan piece featuring Prabhu and a young Silk Smitha. Great, great song.

3. Aagaya Gangai from Dharmayudham

Another Ilaiyaraaja composition that showcases the best of Vasudevan. The instrumentation at the start of the piece and throughout the song offers the right foil for the singers, Malaysia Vasudevan and S.Janaki to let it go. Watch Vasudevan pick up with “Kadhal Nenjil…”It helps to have Rajini and a young Sridevi on screen too.

4. Mamavukku Kuduma from Punnagai Mannan

If you wanted a feel for the attitude Malaysia Vasudevan could bring to a song, look no further than this piece from “Punnagai Mannan.” Ilaiyaraaja concocts a whimsical composition that befits the Kamalhassan character on screen and Vasudevan completes the picture by delivering the song beautifully.

5. Poongatru Thirumbuma from Mudhal Mariyadhai

Possibly the one really slow song in this list, it had to be featured because of how big it was during its time. A movie that boasted a stellar everything, Ilaiyaraaja, Malaysia Vasudevan and S.Janaki weave magic set to the words of Vairamuthu. Spend some time listening to the words and you can feel the depth and much of the credit goes to the simple tune and the clean delivery of the singers.

The same movie features another classic Malaysia Vasudevan-Janaki piece in “Vetti veru vaasam

6. En Soga Kadhaya Kelu from Thooral Nindru Pochu

Another popular song from the 80s that got a lot of radio time was this gaana-precursor composed by Ilaiyaraaja and sung to perfection by Malaysia Vasudevan. The song starts off completely differently and I have set the link to play from where the “En soga kadhaya” portion starts.

7. Panju mittai from Ettupatti Rasa

A rare non-Raaja song in this list, but nevertheless a nice showcase for Malaysia Vasudevan’s grasp of the medium and how the song played out in the screen. A rustic tune from Deva and featuring a much-in-love Napolean and Khushboo, see how Vasudevan makes you feel what is happening on screen – the playful sensuality and romance.

8. Ramarajan hits

I wanted to bundle two Ramarajan songs in this list. They are not spectacular but still a good couple of songs to demonstrate Malaysia Vasudevan’s range. The first is “Ooru vittu ooru vandhu” from the massive hit “Karakattakaran.” The second song is a much more romantic number from Ramarajan-Revathi starrer, Gramathu Minnal- “Nee pogum padhayil

9. Oru thanga radhathil from Dharmayudham

Another Malaysia piece for Rajini (of which there are very many), this song is an evergreen classic for Malaysia’s rendition and Ilaiyaraaja’s instrumentation.

10. Kadhal Vandhiruchu from Kalyana Raman

Ilaiyaraja had immense faith in Malaysia Vasudevan to deliver complex songs with character. Look no further than this song for “Kalyana Raman” where simpleton Kamal Hassan is wooing Sridevi. In less than 5 minutes, Vasudevan and Ilaiyaraaja weave a complex tapestry that conveys a lot.

11. Mappilaikku Maaman manasu from NetriKann

A fantastic movie set in Coimbatore and shot on location, 100 feet from where I used to live, this song is really a solid P.Susheela song but the reason to include it here is to showcase Malaysia Vasudevan’s classical leanings. Look for him to chime in past the mid point of this song. If you have not yet seen this movie, check it out. Rajinikanth kills it.

12. Madana mohana roopa sundari from Indru Poi Naalai Vaa

Another fantastic comedy that features an utterly brilliant Bhagyaraj, this song demonstrates Malaysia Vasudevan’s comic timing when it came to song delivery. Another song that deserves to be seen and heard. And yes, see this movie if you have not. As the teacher says, “Ek gaon mein ek kisan raghuthatha”

13. Nila Kayudhu from Sagalakalavallavan

Malaysia Vasudevan had three key genres where he excelled- rustic, playful and sensual. This song showcases the sensual side of the singer. Composed by Ilaiyaraaja for the evergreen romantic in Kamalhassan, Malaysia Vasudevan and Janaki are key cogs in the wheel to make sure the experience is complete.

14. Ennama Kannu from Mr.Bharath

What a wonderful song that showcases the playful banter not just between the stars on screen, Rajini and Sathyaraj but also the singers behind the screen, SPB and Malaysia Vasudevan. In an interesting play, Ilaiyaraaja entrusts the job of doing vocals for Rajini to SPB instead of Malaysia Vasudevan and Sathyaraj gets to counter punch with the vocals of Malaysia Vasudevan. I could write a lot about how awesome this song is,. Instead, just check it out. One of those songs that feels complete with the visuals.

15. Aasai Nooru Vagai from Adutha Vaarisu

It can be argued that Malaysia Vasudevan was a bigger voice for Rajinikanth in his early years than SPB. One got to associate Rajini’s on screen songs with Vasudevan’s voice. And this Ilaiyaraaja composition is probably the best example.

I chose to end my list with this song because it represents exactly how I remember Malaysia Vasudevan. The tease, the flourish and the playful delivery- very much like Superstar made him a musical superstar. One whose songs, we continue to listen and cherish to this date.

Full Youtube playlist for the post can be found here or you can watch it below.

Love is in the air (Part 1) – A selection of romantic songs from old Hindi movies

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. More importantly, the weather outside is awesome enough that there is a need for good music to keep us snuggled in until Spring comes along. Over the next few weeks, I am hoping to put together a set of good songs that are romantic by definition, but really are a set of wonderfully composed and well sung pieces that are well worth revisiting. One really big caveat for all these posts-they are incredibly personal and my own view of things. Your set of best songs of this era might not match mine and that is definitely expected. Music is as subjective as any other art form. Its joy is in the ear of the listener. One other note before we kick things off, this set is what came to my head when I put this list together. I am sure I missed some of my own personal favorites. It happens all the time. With that out of the way, let us get to the music.

I am kicking off this series of posts with some classics from old Hindi movies. The list is in no particular order and if you have songs to add, please add them in the Comments section or in the social networks where this post is syndicated.

1. Aaja Sanam from Chori Chori
I have listened to this song a few hundred times and I never get tired of it. The music by Shankar-Jaikishan is outstanding. Lata and Manna Dey offer their vocals to lyrics by Hasrat Jaipuri. Manna Dey’s voice comes through when he opens up with “Bheegi Bheegi raat mein.” Note the lyrics from Hasrat Saab, “Zindagi hai ik safar, kaun jaane kal kidhar…”

2. Chaudvin ka Chand from Chaudvin ka chand

Chances are, if you have ever listened to this song, you would share my take on its sheer brilliance. A gentle composition that is as paean to the woman in his heart (in this case, the gorgeous Waheeda Rahman in the mind of Guru Dutt), it boasts lyrics unlike most other. And the pace is languidly romantic. Lyricist Shakeel Badayuni weaves a tune for the ages, set to the tune by Ravi. And yes, the golden voice of Rafi saab makes it the piece that it is. Sample this- “Jaane bahaar tum kisi shayar ka khwab ho…”

3. Jo vaada kiya oh from Taj Mahal

Celebrating the immortal love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, Taj Mahal boasts fabulous songs composed by Roshan saab. None more romantic than this classic piece boasting the classic romantic vocal pairing of Rafi and Lata. The song is relatively short by 1963 standards but leaves a lasting impact, thanks to the wonderful lyrics by Sahir Ludhianvi.

4. Aadha hai chandrama from Navrang

What a composition by C.Ramachandra. This gorgeous song from the movie Navrang directed by V.Shantaram features the nimble Sa
ndhya (his wife) dancing to the wonderful piece. Definitely stay on for the whole song. The last portion features some great dancing by Sandhya. As a big fan of Malkauns (Hindolam) , this song sung by Mahendra Kapoor and Asha Bhonsle has been a lifelong favorite of mine. The lyrics by Bharat Vyas are wonderfully romantic. Sample the start of the song, “Aadha hai chandrama raat aadhi, rehna jaaye teri meri baat aadhi, mulaqaat aadhi”

5. Abhi na jao chod kar from Hum Dono

A young and dashing Dev Anand romancing the gorgeous Sadhana is all one needs to get going with this song. Throw in the voices of Asha Bhonsle and Rafi singing a gentle and teasing piece by music director Jaidev with lyrics by the inimitable Sahir Ludhianvi saab, this song is pure gold. “Yehi kahoge tum sadaa, ke dil abhi bara nahin…” for sure.

6. Hum Aap ki Ankhon mein from Pyaasa

Another personal favorite featuring an all star crew. A young and vibrant Guru Dutt romances Mala Sinha to a peppy romantic number set to tune by S.D.Burman saab. The lyrics by Ludhianvi saab sets a benchmark. This movie boasts a soundtrack that is as good as it gets. Rafi saab and Geeta Dutt do full justice and much more to the song in a way that just warrants multiple listens.

7. Yeh Raatein yeh mausam from Dilli Ka Thug

I was starting to worry that I had front loaded this collection with very many Rafi saab songs. Then I remembered this wonderful piece by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle from Dilli Ka Thug. Featuring Kishore Kumar romancing a young and beautiful Nutan, the song just tantalises.  The composition by Ravi glows with the lyrics by Shailendra. Sample this- “Yeh kya baat hai aaj ki chandni mein, ke hum khogaye pyaar ki raagni mein”

8. Pyaar Hua from Shree 420

Iconic imagery. Superstars. Epic music by Shankar Jaikishan. A song for the ages featuring the so-much-in-love Raj Kapoor and Nargis. The vocals of Manna Dey and Lata that make it special. A complete experience for the hopeless romantic in you. I want that rain and the tea that goes with it. Oh, the umbrella too.

9. Dil kya kare from Julie

I was definitely leaning towards an all black and white collection. That would seriously date me (IMHO, not in a bad way). So I figured a few hits from the 70s might be worth inclusion here. The first and foremost of that lot is the evergreen romantic  piece from Julie. Rajesh Roshan scores music set to the lyrics of Harindranath Chattopadhyay. The song belongs to Kishore Kumar. He conveys all the romance and so much more.

10. Jaane Jaan from Jawaani Diwani

A classic composition by R.D.Burman for the movie Jawaani Diwani, this is just one heck of a number. R.D’s expertise in crafting a completely unique take on romance is fully evident here. Featuring a young Randhir Kapoor and a gorgeous Jaya Bhaduri, the romantic piece is sung with gusto by Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle. The pitch variations on this song are just epic.

11. Teri Bindiya Re from Abhimaan

What do I say about this song that hasnt been already said? An onscreen romantic song that reflected the offscreen romance of the leading couple – Amitabh and Jaya, this song is just so beautiful. Written to perfection by Majrooh Sultanpuri saab and set to a great tune by S.D.Burman, this song is the definition of love, as good a combination of lyrics, tune and vocals can deliver. The entire album features some fabulous music worth many listens. As a counterpoint to this young romantic piece, “Tere Mere Milan” offers a more mature take on the same romance. I had a hard time picking “Teri Bindiya Re” over “Tere milan”

12. Dekha Ek Khwab from Silsila

As I was typing my text for the previous song from Abhimaan, my thoughts naturally drifted to this song from Silsila. There is so much history here in real and reel life that I will let you, the reader and listener debate that with your spouse 🙂

I will just wax eloquent about how wonderful a piece this one is- a composition by the Hindustani giants Shiv-Hari that boasts some fabulous visuals and actor eye candy in the form of Amitabh and Rekha. You throw in the lyrics, nay, poetry of Javed Akhtar and romance as seen by one of the greatest romanticists of our era, the late Yash Chopra, and you have romantic gold.

13. Kabhi Kabhi from Kabhi Kabhi

To finish the triumvirate of Amitabh Bachchan romantic movies that were box office and music gold from the era, here is another magical piece from Kabhi Kabhi. The real star in this song is the lyricist, Sahir Ludhianvi saab and the music director, Khayyam. Mukesh does the singing honors. An evergreen song that reverberates even today.

14. Mere Sapnon Ki Rani from Aradhana

I debated long and hard between this song and “Roop Tera Mastana” It is hard to pick one over the other. Both are the epitome of romance with the former more playful while the latter is sensual. In the end, I went with the playful version of love.

S.D.Burman creates a fast paced tune set to the lyrics of Anand Bakshi and leave the rest to Kishore Kumar and Rajesh Khanna. A smiling Rajesh Khanna woos Sharmila Tagore in a song that brings an instant smile to the viewer. The ultimate song to woo your woman!

15. Chura Liya Hai from Yaadon ki baaraat

And to wrap up this list that I never want to conclude, the romantic song of a complete generation of lovers. Is the magic because of Asha’s sultry rendition of the song or is it the way Mohd. Rafi jumps in mid way and just takes it to a whole another level or is it the composition by R.D.Burman or Majrooh saab’s lyrics? Is it the incredibly gorgeous Zeenat Aman who seals the deal? Or maybe, just maybe, everything came together in a package that will be remembered as a definitive love song for the ages.

I had a difficult time not including so many songs because I didn’t want this list to be never-ending. The point was to let you revel in romantic thoughts while listening to this small collection. There are so many more fabulous songs from the era that it deserves a new set every year.

Until then, have a great Valentine’s Day.

As always, the entire playlist (and many more songs) can be found here for your listening enjoyment.

A Republic Day Music Quiz

My original plan was to have a nice post on patriotic songs across multiple Indian languages. But given the popularity of the audio quizzes over the past couple of months, I decided to tweak the post to be a simple audio quiz. The theme here is all things India and patriotic. Each song/audio clip has a specific question associated with it. So listen to the clips while you look at the questions. As always, please message me the answers in private (Facebook messenger, Whatsapp, google plus message, email, whichever works for you). And please, in the spirit of fun, try not to google the answers.


Here are the clips. Read below for the questions.


1. Which Indian Prime Minister inspired Manoj Kumar to direct “Upkar”? Clue: The theme in question is “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan”

2. Which 1882 book by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay featured this poem (Vande Mataram) that went onto become  huge patriotic piece?

3. As many of you know, this is the popular “Mile sur” piece made by DD for national integration. The recording heard from the beginning of that piece features a doyen of Hindustani music. Can you name him?

4. Gandhiji’s use of this Ram Dhun, “Raghupathi Raghav”  made this piece closely associated with him and the freedom struggle. What event was the one where Gandhiji started using it and is closely associated with the piece?. Bonus Point question: In the rendition of the song you listened to, who is the artist playing the reed/ woodwind instrument?

5. This is of course, the popular piece “Vaishnava Janato.” Who wrote the song? Bonus Point question: Who are the two main singers featured in this version?

6. This song has less to do with the freedom struggle (it came after it). It does get closely associated with the nationalistic fervor though. This song and the tune are from the piece, “We Shall overcome” Which movie featured this particular audio version ofthe song? Bonus Point question: What was the context in which the original song was written?

7. This piece(original recording) was first performed by the famed Carnatic vocalist, M.S.Subbulakshmi. The recording was performed in front of an august gathering and got a lot of press when it happened (clue: in 1966). What was the event or where was it rendered? Bonus point question: Who wrote this song?

8. A.R.Rahman created this piece aimed at repairing relations with our neighbor. Who was the much celebrated singer whom he collaborated with?

9. This song was originally written to celebrate and honor the lives of our Indian soldiers who fought and lost their lives in the Sino-Indian war. It was written by Kavi Pradeep and sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Which celebrated music director composed the tune?

10. Final question, an easy one. A.R.Rahman collaborated with a bunch of Indian artists to deliver his take on our National Anthem, “Jana Gana Mana” Who are the singers of this particular version? If you really need a clue, they are sisters.

Good luck and enjoy.

Happy Indian Republic Day folks.

Other Quizzes

1. Audio Quiz- Part 1: TV Serial Theme songs

2. Audio Quiz- Part 2: Popular Indian TV ad jingles (1-10)

3. Audio Quiz- Part 3: Popular Indian TV ad jingles (11-20)

4. Audio Quiz- Part 4: Dialogues from Hindi Movies

5. Audio Quiz- Part 5: Dialogues from Tamil Movies


Carnatic Music in Malayalam cinema

I grew up in the city of Coimbatore, not too far from the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border.  I had and continue to have a lot of Malayalee and Tamilalee friends. I never quite picked up the language but given the context, could make heads or tails in the conversation.

In the late eighties and early nineties, Malayalam cinema was going through its golden period. Every other movie made its way to the National Awards and Mohanlal, Mamooty and a slew of actors held center stage. While I didnt really watch very many Malayalam movies, one thing that I took to was their soundtrack. It would not be a stretch to say that in the last three decades, there has not been a better showcase of Carnatic music than in Malayalam movies.

How did this happen? One could start with the voices – Yesudas who stormed into the scene around the same time. There were others like Neyyatinkara Vasudevan, Jayachandran and S.Janaki who also made waves. Yesudas subsequently brought in M.G.Sreekumar and Kavikuyil Chitra. Malayalam music directors of the time had a keen ear for Carnatic music- G.DevarajanM. Raveendran, M.G. Radhakrishnan, Johnson, and Illayaraja.  The musical nature of some of the movies at the time – Bharatam, Chitram, His Highness Abdullah, Sargam, Sopanam, Manichitrathazhu, Swathi Thirunal and many more was either the cause or the result of this magic. In this post, I will present a really small set of those spectacular movie soundtracks that continue to hold sway over me.

1. Swathi Thirunal


This is what I would call a full Carnatic soundtrack. A movie that was critically panned for its theme, it nevertheless featured an all star vocal cast including Neyyattinkara Vasudevan, Chitra, Yesudas, S.P.B, Balamurali Krishna and more. This M.B.Sreenivasan album is one of my all time favorites and it a huge challenge to pick a single favorite. Be it the Charukesi piece by Yesudas, or Kanada by Neyyatinkara or the Vasantha piece by Yesudas and Neyyatinkara or the Misra Pilu piece sung gorgeously by Balamurali or the Dhanasri thillana by M.G.Sreekumar, each one is a gem.  But for the sake of this post, I would like to put forth this short yet impactful Darbari Kanada piece by SPB – Devanuke Pathi.

2. Sargam


I never got to see this movie but I heard it was good. What I did hear (many times over) was its soundtrack.  Featuring music by Bombay Ravi, this movie was built around music as its central theme and it shows. K.J.Yesudas and Chitra pretty much owned and dominated the album with such pieces like Raaga Sudha rasa (Aandholika), Pravahame.  My personal favorite is the wonderful Kedaragowla piece, Aandholanam.

3. Bharatham


Yet another Raveendran-Mohanlal combo that did wonders. The movie with its dark theme was a popular hit and went on to win National Awards. A movie that showcased the price of fame in Carnatic music and what it does to relationships, it featured some awesome music by Raveendran.  The selection here includes Rama Katha Ganalayam (pivotal moment in the movie driven by KJY’s excellent rendition), the great Shankarabharanam piece, Raghuvamsapathe and the Nattai piece Gopangane. My personal pick here is the Hamsadwani piece by K.J.Y, Sree Vinayakam.

4. Chithram


This is one movie I did get to see. A serious start segues into a humorous middle only to climax on a not so happy note. All that aside, the movie’s breezy middle portion has some hidden gems. This was a huge hit back then and the Kannur Rajan scored music was a big contributor. Two nice pieces here are the romantic piece that is still rooted in Madhyamavathi, Eeran Megham and the M.G.Sreekumar rendered Dikshithar krithi in Nattai, Swami Nadha. But the standout here is the fantastic rendition of Thyagaraja’s Abheri gem, Nagumo by Neyyattinkara Vasudevan and M.G.Sreekumar.

5.  His Highness Abdullah


One can argue that this maybe the benchmark against which all Carnatic themed Malayalam film music could be measured. And as a movie, it standouts as a remarkable classical music based enterprise from Pranavam Arts. A Raveendran soundtrack rich in classical tones for a movie rooted in the same art form, it was a joy to watch and to listen. With good pieces in the form of Pramadhanam Vendum, and the Kanada piece, Nadharoopini gloriously rendered by M.G.S and much more, there was a lot to enjoy. The standout song though was Deva Sabhathalam featuring Yesudas / M.G.Sreekumar in two versions, Raveendran master and Sharath. Even today, I get goosebumps listening to this piece.

As I made my way through this list, I realized it would not really fit in one post. So I will defer the rest of the selection to a second post for a future date. And no better way to conclude this post than with the final lines from the song, “Anandam Ananthanandham Jagadanandam Sangeetham”

As always, a full Youtube playlist with pretty much all the songs featured in this post are available here. Enjoy.