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The stamp of originality

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B.A. Chidambaranath
B.A. Chidambaranath

P.K. Ajith Kumar

Kozhikode: B.A. Chidambaranath, who died at his home in Chennai on Friday night, contributed immensely to the growth of Malayalam film music. He may have composed music for only about 30 films, but many of his songs are among the most melodious in Malayalam cinema.

Song such as ‘Karayunno puzha chirikkunno…’ and ‘Kadavathu thoniyadukkumbol…’ (‘Murappennu’),

Nidra than neerazhi…,’ ‘Kesadipadam thozhunnen…’ and ‘Pakalkinavin…’ (‘Pakalkinavu’), ‘Kunkumapoovukal…,’ ‘Attuvanchi kadavil…’ and ‘Suruma nalla suruma…’ (‘Kayamkulam Kochunni’), ‘Kalpana than alakapuriyil...’ (‘Station Master’), ‘Manda mandam…’ (‘Chekuthante Kotta’) and ‘Arimulla…’ (‘Postman’) have stood the test of time. They also prove Chidambaranath’s versatility as a composer.

When he made his debut in 1949, as the music director of ‘Vellinakshathram,’ there was little original about Malayalam film music. It was a time when songs were copied in their entirety from Hindi and Tamil films.

“Right from my first film, I tried to create something of my own,” he had told this writer here about a year ago, in what his last interview. “I remember the producer and the director coming to me with some gramophone records from which I was supposed to copy, but I refused.”

His memory often failed him during the interview (He would ask several times, ‘Did you have your breakfast?’), but he spoke articulately about the songs he composed and the singers he liked. Yesudas, Janaki, P. Susheela and Chitra were his favourite singers. He introduced P. Jayachandran to playback singing (‘Oru mulla…’ from ‘Kunjali Marakkar’). Chidambaranath, a native of Bhoothapandi in Kanyakumari district, was also the composer of one of the most popular devotional songs in Malayalam – ‘Gangayaru pirakkunnu…’ He also wrote and composed ‘kritis’ in Tamil.

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