Baburaj, through his wife’s eyes

The man, his wife and their children went to Crown Theatre in Kozhikode on a horse cart. It was a full house, with many women among the audience.

The air smelt of different kinds of perfumes. There was the loud, yet pleasant, sound of the jingling bangles, as the song sequences of melodies like Kadali vaazha … and Paalanu thenaanu …appeared on the screen.

Many in the audience sang along. There was joy and pride on the face of the man who had come to the theatre with his family on that hired horse cart, to watch Umma , one of the biggest hits of Malayalam cinema in 1960.

For, it was that man who composed its hugely popular musical score. This is one of the several fascinating anecdotes you would come across about M.S. Baburaj in the book written by his wife Bicha Baburaj, along with P. Zakir Hussain.

Babukka , published by Mathrubhumi Books (Kozhikode), is largely the fond recollections of Bicha’s life with the genius of a composer, who gave Malayalam cinema many of its greatest film songs, including Thamasamenthe varuvan … ( Bhargavi Nilayam ), Thaliritta kinakkal than … ( Moodupadam ) and Pathiravayilla … ( Manaswini ). The book succeeds in giving us insights into the life and art of a great mind.

Baburaj’s life, as has been documented before, was more like one of the several sad songs he composed. As a young boy, he had sung on the streets to support himself and his family, and he never was good with financial matters.

He did not know how to price his talent; he would even work free of cost. Friends were his weakness. He did not know how to say ‘no.’ Once he lent the harmonium, on which he had tuned his masterpieces, to a friend in Abu Dhabi, only to lose it forever.

Babukka is not just the story of Baburaj and his wife, but it also gives us glimpses of life in Kozhikode, and rest of Malabar, in the 1960’s and seventies. It is a peek into Muslim culture.

It is interesting to read the experiences of Bicha and how she first saw Baburaj, as a singer at a wedding, how he introduced her to radio and then tape recorder, as well as her first rides on a bus and a car. Some rare pictures of Baburaj and the list of songs he composed embellish the book.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 11:34:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/baburaj-through-his-wifes-eyes/article8578151.ece

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