Friday, June 8, 2007

Musical journey down memory lane

An AIR programme traces the history of music in Malayalam films, right from its beginning in plays.

This is an invitation you just cannot resist if you are a lover of Malayalam film music. Kochi FM station has come up with an outstanding effort in its weekly programme Ganalokaveethikalil (Along the lanes of songs).

To put it simply, it traces the entire history of music in Malayalam films, starting from its very beginning in musical plays.

Those behind the programme have drawn praise for the efforts they have taken. It goes on air on Thursdays at 8 a.m., and is repeated at 9.30 p.m. the next Tuesdays.

"This was produced as part of the project software programme by Prasar Bharati to create archival material. This is for the first time that such an exhaustively-researched work has been made on Malayalam film songs," said R.C. Gopal, Station Director, Kochi FM.

54 episodes

In about 54 episodes to be broadcast over a year, the programme documents chronologically the evolution of Malayalam film music.

"It began when we did a series on musicians and singers called Ormakalude Sangeetham (Music of Memory). As we did not want this to be a mechanical documentation, we started with elements that influenced Malayalam film music at its inception stage," said K.V. Saratchandran, transmission executive, who is coordinating the work.

He, along with musicologist B. Vijayakumar started the journey, along lanes hitherto unknown, and unheard. And surprises awaited them at many corners.

"We had to check and cross-check what was told by surviving artistes about old tracks.

"Even then, we missed out. Like when Thankam Vasudevan Nair, heroine and wife of the producer of the 1952-film Kerala Kesari, told us that there were no gramophone records of its songs.

"We found one, quite accidentally, after that," said Mr. Vijayakumar.

The programme has been evolving ever since the first episode went on air.

"We were planning to present the episode on the 1948-film Nirmala in the third episode. We could do it only in the 11th episode," said Mr. Saratchandran.

Rare tracks from the archives of All India Radio and private collections take the programme to another level of experience.

This includes audio clipping of Aalam-Ara, the first talkie.

The programme has already attracted a group of serious listeners, who relive the magic of the old times through these flashes of memories.


"We are now working on the possibility of marketing this series once it is completely broadcast," said Mr. Gopal.

For those who miss parts of it, this might come as a consolation.

For many of the audio tracks used in this programme have vanished from the memories of even the most ardent collector long ago.

This walk along memory lane is something they would not like to miss.

Anand Haridas