A fusion twist to Vanchipattu

Vanchipattu, the boat song sung in chorus by the rowers led by cheerleaders aboard, has become part and parcel of boat races.

Kuttanadan Punchayile Kochu Penne Kuyilale …, the yesteryear song from the film Kavalam Chundan has taken a new avatar in fusion. The film song, released in 1967, is reborn as the theme song of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race to be held here on Saturday.

Musician Stephen Devassy has given a new dimension to the song by synthesising it with different notes. Penned by legendary lyricist Vayalar Rama Varma, the original version has been immortalised by music director G. Devarajan through the gifted voice of K.J. Yesudas.

The new song is sung by Stephen Devassy, Pradeep Babu, and Shyama Prasad. Produced for the Nehru Trophy Boat Race (NTBR) Society by Shyam Devassy, the song’s background music has been scored by Chennai Solid Band and picturised by Muvattupuzha Jo Benn.

Vanchipattu, the boat song sung in chorus by the rowers led by cheerleaders aboard, has become part and parcel of boat races that have symbolised the rich culture of the land. The rhythmic lines coupled with beats and splashes on water give a synchrony that energises the race.


Vanchipattu has a history of its own. It all started a century ago during the reign of erstwhile kings of Travancore and Cochin kingdoms. It is believed that the first vanchipattu was composed by Ramapurathu Warrier, a poet in the royal court. King Marthanda Varma, during one of his boat journeys from Vaikom to Thiruvananthapuram, is said to have asked Warrier to compose a poem suited to the occasion. Warrier wrote Kuchelavruttam , a poem dwelling on the story of Lord Sri Krishna’s reunion with his impoverished childhood friend, Kuchela. The poem was set to a peculiar meter called Nathonnatha.

The song in varied forms is sung by rowers in boat races. The latest one is a reinvention of the rich tradition that the races roll out.

The NTBR society has been conducting competitions in vanchipattu. The competition for schoolchildren was held a few days ago. There are vanchipattus dealing with themes drawn from epics and lives of historic personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 6:49:43 PM |

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