Melody manzil

On six days of the week, Hydros Koya’s house, near Mankavu in Kozhikode, simply stands witness to the usual buzz of people and vehicles passing by. But come Sunday, it transforms itself into a veritable musical paradise. Scores of music aficionados of vintage film music from all walks of life – from retired bureaucrats to autorickshaw drivers and students – flock to his abode.

Mohamed Koya, affectionately called Radio Koya or Koyakka, has been treating them with musical gems, mostly Mohammed Rafi numbers, for the past 24 years. Anyone might walk in, get themselves immersed in this ocean of melodic bliss, and try a hand at their own favourites, topping it all off with a ‘sulaimani’ (black tea) served by Koyakka’s family.

This man, who has a hearty smile for anyone who comes his way, belongs to another era when people were not too busy to care for each other; a time when one actually stopped on the way to admire a wild flower peeking out of the busy street corner; a time when huge radios and gramophones played mellifluous melodies for everyone in the neighbourhood. Koyakka’s home take you back to those times. A radio mechanic by profession, he has a treasure trove of valve radios, records, gramophones, and film memorabilia. By the end of the evening, stretching up to 10 o’clock on most days, you will emerge enlightened – just by sitting in a cramped bedroom, lined by shelves filled with large, shiny black gramophone records encased carefully in their ancient cases.

Evening of Rafi numbers

The evening usually begins with a Rafi classic. There may not be the usual ‘Abhi na jao chhod kar’ or ‘Din dhal jaaye’. For, irrespective of where the singers come from or what they do, Koyakka’s mehfils look a bit beyond the ‘hit factor.’ They come up with rare numbers and unknown ragas, transporting the listener to even greater heights. After all, unheard melodies are sweeter.

They usually have major talents accompanying the singers on instruments. When Salim, son of renowned singer C.A. Aboobacker, unleashes his rhythmic fingers on the tabla, you realise it cannot get any better. That he has not learned the instrument is yet another fact to gape at. Anyone may take turns at the harmonium. And they need no rehearsals or second takes.

Ali, who sells readymade clothes on pavements, has been on a search of Rafi’s lesser known bhajans and ghazals. He starts singing a classic ‘Kisi ke yaad mein…’ and the world halts to listen. After each song, Koyakka steps in, leading a brief discussion on the film, the singers, and the milieu.

People from across the State, and outside, come in search of Koyakka in person or on the phone. Many such visits turn out to be friendships for a lifetime. Khalid, the famed accordionist of Kozhikode’s legendary Brothers’ Music Club, is now back from Egypt and is happy to relive the golden days with Koyakka’s mehfils.

Koyakka is also an active member of the Kozhikode-based collective of Radio Ceylon fans and has presented songs on ‘Dil Se Dil Tak’, a popular musical programme on All India Radio’s Kozhikode FM.

A feature film based on Koyakka’s life and love for Rafi is being planned and preliminary discussions are on.

Hrudayathil Rafi, an award-winning documentary directed by Prabeesh Mukundan and M. Vineesh, details his journey so far.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 11:43:56 PM |

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