AIR documenting film songs

Staff Reporter

KOCHI: It is a remarkable feat, which only the All India Radio can pull off. Documenting the history of Malayalam film songs exhaustively.

When the programme Ganalokaveethikal, which is being broadcast from the Kochi station of AIR, touched 150 episodes recently, the chronicle had just touched films made in 1957.

“This was originally planned as 54 episodes, but it went on as the programme kept discovering many facts hidden in history. We could unearth many facts, which were not available in any historical documents. Even the producer and actor of the film Kerala Kesari did not know its songs were available. We could use them,” said B. Vijayakumar, musicologist who is heading the team doing the research on the subject.

Increasing listener base

Till date, the programme has documented the works of nearly 30 music directors, 60 singers, and 25 lyricists – with the career of these artistes covered in detail.

What fetched the programme an ever-swelling listener base is that history dealt with in the programme is supported by audio clips – of interviews with the artistes, both taken exclusively for the programme as well as from the archives of the AIR.

The programme is so structured that it analyses all the Malayalam films during a year.

Along with this, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films are also analysed in brief to give a clearer picture of the Indian cinema music as a whole.

“This is done because the influence of music from outside was much evident in Malayalam film music,” said K.V. Saratchandran, who is producing and directing the programme for AIR, Kochi.

“The details of songs and singers were obtained by collecting the song books printed along with films in the past, and also by going through film reviews. That was how we could trace some songs that were not heard till now by many. For instance, not many have heard about nearly 26 songs written by Thikkurussi Sukumaran Nair for the film Devasundari,” said Mr. Vijayakumar.

Songs, which are not available in any format – including the early gramophone records, are traced out from prints in the Film Archives.


The half-an-hour weekly programme is broadcast on Thursdays at 8 a.m. and is repeated on succeeding Tuesdays at 9.30 p.m.

The 150 {+t} {+h} episode dealt with the 60th Malayalam film Jailpully, released in 1957.

“This programme is just a skeleton. It could be used to create a comprehensive documentation work, if all the material available in the archives are utilised,” said Mr. Sarathchandran.