Malayalam Filmsongs' English annotation

Old Malayalam film songs are wonderful. Most of them lend a most mesmerising sensation to the hearer. The style and tone has been set and led by Vayalar Ramavarma. Such others as P Bhaskaran, Sreekumaran Thampi, and others have more or less tried to equal him in calibre.

However, with the demise of Vayalar, there was no compelling standards or parameters to which film songs could remain loyal to. Standards deteriorated. There were attempts to cover the defects with loud music, and boisterous sounds.

Now, what is so great about these old songs? They convey a most elevated feel to the human psyche. In feudal Malayalam, everything has to remain in various social and mental levels. Starting from that of extreme lowliness to the heights of divine attainments. These songs generally lend a very ennobled aura to the human beings. There is the chakravartinis (ചക്രവർത്തിനികളും), salabanjigas (സാലഭൻജികകളും), rajashilpis (രാജശിൽപികളും), ajantha shilpams (അജന്താശിൽപങ്ങളും), anthapurams (അന്തപ്പരങ്ങളും), agraharams (അഗ്രഹാരങ്ങളും), rathisukasares (രതിസുഖസാരേകളും), mayalokams (മായാലോകങ്ങളും), manoharinis (മനോഹരിണികളും), anuraghapaurnamis (അനുരാഗപൌർണ്ണമികളും) and much else. Then there are the thenivarikkakaad (തേൻവരിക്കക്കാട്), and such other exotic sounding places.

However, the reality of Kerala life is much more mundane. It has no connection with the sweet dreamlike world depicted in the songs, which more or less make use of Sanskrit words and usages in gay abandon. The reality of communication in Kerala is rough, and tough, and possibly uncouth to those one does not respect or revere. Here everything comes with a string of respect versus pejorative codes (ബഹുമാനിക്കൽ-അല്ലെങ്കിൽ-തരംതാഴ്ത്തൽ കോഡുകൾ) connected to financial and social status; and also to age (currently).

Beyond that, the modern language of Malayalam is only a rampant expansion of the colloquial lingua franca of South Central Travancore, which may have been systematised by the Christian Missionaries of the London Missionary Society, when they converted a lot of lower caste communities into Christians. The language of Malabar, which was also called Malayalam, literally was wiped out in the last 30 and odd years. This language also did show extreme potentialities to bring out fascinating literary creations. However modern generations of Malabar wouldn’t understand this language, which if they hear, they would literally laugh at.

Malayalam songs can seem to be more beautiful than most English songs, for they visualise a world that is not in existence, and cannot be conceived in English. And doesn’t exist in India. Feudal languages generally have this quality of being extremely beautiful. Even French songs used to be mentioned as beautiful even by Englishmen, who traditionally did view many French items with disdain.

I wrote these annotations of Old Malayalam Filmsongs many years ago, with no specific aim in mind.

I had also posted some of these annotations in the Comment box under the relevant videos in Youtube. However, some of them were almost immediately removed by the account owners in the YouTube.

It may be noted that what I have written is more or less annotations of the song lines or verses. However, due to my limited knowledge of Sanskrit words and usage, and also of the literary side of Malayalam, this annotation may not be of resounding quality and correctness from Sanskrit and Malayalam perspective. However, I have made an attempt to capture the general mood and pulse of the songs in English words. I am more or less satisfied with what I have done with regard to some of the songs. In the case of others, I feel that I could have done better. Maybe I would do some rewriting of them later.