The tale of the sweet melody Mrudu mandahaasam


Few know about Arackel Nandakumar, the man who gave the fete its biggest hit

It is an incredibly sweet song. So sweet, it will haunt you. Mrudu mandahaasam… has indeed been haunting the State School Arts Festival for 23 years. It has been rendered, often by multiple singers, mostly at every festival since 1996. If it had not been used in the film Poomaram, released last year, it may not have even travelled beyond the festival stages. But it is doubtful whether the song, or the man who wrote and composed it, has received as the recognition it deserved. Many of those who sing it at the festivals and win prizes do not know that Arackel Nandakumar is the man behind it. A newspaper once carried a report that the song was the original composition of a woman.

A hit again

On Friday at the Little Flower GHSS ground, two students who sang Mrudu mandahaasam… in the High School Girls’ Light Music contest won ‘A’ grade. After singing it beautifully, Nithya Sabu of Sacred Heart GHS, Muthalakodam, Idukki, said she did not know it was a composition of Nandakumar. “I fell in love with the song after hearing K.S. Chithra singing it in Poomaram,” she said. Nandakumar is not surprised that he has remained anonymous even after Poomaram. “Maybe that is because the film wasn’t a hit,” he told The Hindu from his residence in Thrissur. “I have been part of the festival audiences without anyone, including the singer, knowing that I had created that song.”

For a friend

It was for Manju Menon, his friend and playback singer, that he made that song. “Manju, who was my junior at Government College, Chittur, used to sing the same song, which had a line referring to my name (Nandakumaaranaayi vannu…), at every competition,” he recalled. “I was irritated and I came up with this song for her to sing for an inter-collegiate contest. I wanted to compose a song that wasn’t heavily influenced by classical music.”

Nandakumar, who won the Sangeetha Nakata Akademi award this year for his contribution to light music, never imagined the song, composed in Hindustani Raga Khamaj, would become so popular. “Director Abrid Shine came to me after hearing the song at some festival,” he said.

“He wanted Shreya Ghoshal to sing it, but I am glad that it was recorded in Chithra’s voice.”

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 8:55:38 PM |

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