Awargi,a documentary on the music and life of Baburaj, is also a commentary on the golden age of Malayalam film music.
If that golden number Suruma ezhuthiya mizhikale pranaya madhura thaen thulumbum... continues to haunt you for the inherent romanticism and intensity of sentiment, there are others in the M.S. Baburaj collection that have audiences listen in silence to at any rendering of his songs even today.
The melancholic Oru ganam matram jnan poonguzhalil sookshikkam... or the love song Pranasakhi njan verumoru paamaranam pattukaran... and Thamasamenthe varuvan prana sakhi... or the joyous Oru kotta ponnundallo minnundallo meni niraye... all awaken the memories of a musician, who is special to the people of Kozhikode.
Awargi, a documentary on the music and life of Baburaj, directed by Prasad is also a commentary on the golden age of Malayalam film music, when commercialism was yet to make inroads.
This is all the more true for music lovers of Kozhikode when the Baburaj-Kozhikode Abdul Khader duo virtually swept audiences off their feet. Awargi is a journey of the director in search of Baburaj.
"There are so many memories people in Kozhikode have of the singer. They feel they are fortunate to hear those songs," says Prasad, who also wields the camera. "Awargi in Persian means the one who wanders. Like this singer and music director was."
`Babukka', as he was known to friends and acquaintances, could keep an audience in a trance with his harmonium. He was noted for improvisations on the harmonium, hitherto considered the instrument of an impoverished artist, points out the documentary.
Baburaj the harmonist earned praise from stalwarts such as M.S. Viswanathan and Naushad Ali.
His songs dwell on the thoughts of the forlorn lover, sadness and romance.
In the backdrop of the familiar sights and sounds of Kozhikode - the historic beach and lighthouse, teeming Valiyangadi, and the ancient Kuttichira bylanes, Prasad weaves the story of Baburaj, interspersed with reminiscences of those closely associated with the singer.
C.M. Vaadiyil, who accompanied the singer on the violin; Najmal Babu, son of Kozhikode Abdul Khader, and others renew memories of Baburaj in the backdrop of Vaadiyal's harmonium and Vinod's sitar strains set to the beats of Murugadas' tabla.
For the director, the documentary is a tribute, a story that recounts the life and times of a singer who inspired him as a little boy, as it continues to inspire other music lovers and the common man. Prasad penned a poem Mananchira inspired by Baburaj's songs.
The documentary remembers those who helped Baburaj grow and the lovers of music for the patronage extended to the talented singer. Yet, his standing as a harmonist has not been examined sufficiently.
More than everything, Baburaj was a man with a heart.