Manjil Virinja Pookkal might always be remembered mostly as the film that introduced Mohanlal to Malayalam cnema. More serious students of cinema would also remember it as director Fazil’s debut.
The film also marked the debut of a composer, whose music was so refreshingly different from anything that was heard in Malayalam films at that time that ‘Mizhiyoram nananjozhukum…’ conquered the Malayali heart in no time.
The man who tuned that classic, Jerry Amaldev, turns 75 on Tuesday. ‘Manjadikkunnil…’ and ‘Manjanikkombil…,’ the other songs in the film, too were hits.
Fazil had stumbled upon Jerry. “Jijo of Navodaya had made me listen to a song tuned by a new composer and I immediately liked its orchestration,” says the veteran director.
“I had no idea who Jerry was, but was impressed when Jijo told me that he had assisted legendary composer Naushad in Mumbai. I decided to try him for my debut film, and that was how he became the music director of Manjil Virinja Pookkal.”
Jerry went on to create outstanding melodies through the 1980’s and ‘90s. Songs such as ‘Aayiram kannumayi…’ (Nokketha Doorathu Kannum Nattu), ‘Aalorungi arangorungi…’ (Ente Mamattikuttiyammakku), ‘Penninte chenchundil…’ (Guruji Oru Vakku), ‘Athappoovum Nulli…’ (Punnaram Cholli Cholli), ‘Poovalla poonthaliralla…’ (Kattupoth), ‘Mele mele maanam…’ (No.1 Snehatheeram, Bangalore North), ‘Iniyumethu theeram…’ (Pooviriyum Pulari), ‘Prakashanalam…’ (Oru Vilippadakale), ‘Devadundubhi…’ (Ennennum Kannettante) and ‘Illillam kavil…’ (Adhyayam Onnu Muthal) all became hits.
There were also some lovely compositions that did not top the charts, such as ‘Ravinte tholil…’ (Adukkanentheluppam). It is a hauntingly melodious lullaby, sung by Yesudas and Chithra.
“Since the film did not do well, the song never got the recognition it deserved,” says Jerry. “And that happened to me just too often. Some of my finest compositions were for films that were not released, like Kattupoth and Jalakathile Pakshi.”
Jerry also composed one of the finest non-film albums in Malayalam ever, Ganolsavam, released by Tharangini Records in 1984. The songs, which were sheer poetry, were written by ONV Kurup.
The album contained some absolute gems such as ‘Shravana chandrika pushpam…’ The lines and the tune, aided by the immaculate rendering by Yesudas, bring the beauty and irresistible charms of night right before you.
Ganolsavam also had melodies such as ‘Poonchelayazhiyunnu…,’ evocatively sung by Chithra, ‘Ponnonam vannu …’ and ‘Iniyonnu paadi…’
Jerry composed one more album for Tharangini, Ardrageethangal, whose lyrics were written by K. Jayakumar. That album too had unforgettable melodies such as ‘Janmasagara seemayil…,’ ‘Annu sandhyakku…’ and ‘Chillitta vathilil…’
Those songs are still popular, but Jerry has not got the recognition he deserves. “Jerry should have been celebrated more, given the quality of his music,” says Kaithapram Damodaran Namboodiri, whose lyrics Jerry had composed for Ennennum Kannettante. “His contribution has not been acknowledged properly.”
Jerry does not mind that. “I have no problem with that,” he says. “But I wish I had more opportunities to compose.”