Few composers have invoked in film songs the beauty of classical ragas as V. Dakshinamurthy did.
For G. Devarajan, using the raga in a film song was just the means and not the end. But for Dakshninamurthy, it was the means and the end. And he did it, with such depth and variety.
Even when he used the same raga in different situations, he explored its various facets. Raga Kharahapriya, for instance, reveals itself with diverse charm in ‘Uttaraswayamvaram’, ‘Ashokapoornima’ and ‘Sandhyakkenthinu’.
All his compositions bear the unmistakeable stamp of classicism. The classical influence is evident in ‘Swapnangal Swapnangale ningal’, ‘Pattu padiyurakkan njan’, Ponveyil manikkacha azhinju veenu’, Ínnale Neeyoru’, ‘Pulayanar Maniyamma’, ‘Kakkakuyile Cholloo’, ‘Harshabashpam Thooki’, ‘Çhitrasilapalikal’, ‘Oonjala’, ‘Çhandrikayil Aliyunnu’, and ‘Kattile pazhmulam’.
Malayalis lapped up the compositions of the Dakshinamurthy-Sreekumaran Thampi duo just as they did those of Vayalar Rama Varma-G. Devarajan or P. Bhaskaran-Baburaj associations. The song, ‘Vaikathashami’, is specially remembered, as both Dakshimurthy and Thampi have a connection with Vaikom.
Though he started composing in the 1950s after training to be an able concert singer, Dakshinamurthy was never shy of experimenting and adapting to changes in the industry.
“Styles, methods, and practices may change. The backing or the orchestral arrangements may change. The tanpura has given way to vibraphone and the guitars. Now, they have the warm pads. But the basics of music never change. A melody is a melody is a melody. Old or new,” he told this writer in an interview.
He was a colossus whose genius brightened up the career of many generations of singers. Dakshinamurthy scored for Augustin Joseph for ‘Nallathanka’, his son K. J. Jesudas for countless films, and Jesudas’ son for the film ‘Poomukhappadiyil Ninneym Kathu’.
Music-lovers always wondered why he bade goodbye to composing for films. Brief was his reply: “Because my inner voice asked me to.” After the film ‘Idanazhiyil Oru Kalocha’, there was a long gap in his career. ‘Vathilpazhuthiloodenmunpil’, a song in the film, had the line, ‘Athilolamen idanaziyil nin kala madhuramam kalocha kettu’. On hearing the words, he felt he was hearing God’s footsteps. He later scored for a film, ‘Mizhikal Sakshi’. Again, the word, ‘Sakshi’, made him feel that the divine was witnessing everything in his life.
The man who witnessed all the major developments in Malayalam film music tuned himself more to the ethereal and started seeing the melody of the divine in everything in life.