Songs, like books, have always been a constant companion for people. The catharsis and aesthetic pleasure it offers can be manifold; be it the composition, singers, lyrics, and so on. Malayalam songs strike a chord with the Malayalis, especially if one can emotionally connect to an aspect of the song. Most often, we tend to observe the composition and singing, overlooking the lyrical aspect. The very fact that people mostly remember the composer and singers, and not the lyricist is a testament to this.
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A number of Malayalam songs have been regarded as ‘classics’ for their composition. I believe, it is time to appreciate our lyricists and the lyrics they have penned down. This article is an appreciation post from an ardent music lover for songs that were taken to another level by their lyrics.
Orayiram Kinakkalal (Ramji Rao Speaking)
I’ll kickstart this list with my personal favourite. Who can forget this classic where three men try to drown all their worries with booze? While the visualisation and the composition of the song are great, it is the lyrics that stand out for me. S. Balakrishnan composed the song with variations by conjoining melody, maapila paatu and drama-songs; all in a single song to portray the characters’ emotions. Bichu Thirumala, the legend penned this classic giving life to the ambitions of the three protagonists.
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The lyrics beautifully portray the basic ambitions of the characters. But it was the portion about Mukesh’s dream that connects with us all on an emotional level. “Swarga mandhiram paninju swapna bhoomiyil…”; can another line portray the ambition of a youth who wants to build a home this well?
Manikyachirakulla (Idukki Gold)
I’m sure, as soon as you read the title of the song, you immediately thought of its amazing visuals. This song portrayed the beauty of Idukki so very well. Also, not many will forget the teenage attitude and demeanour the five teenagers showcased (if you know, you know).
But I believe this song is beyond its video. Composed by the amazing Bijibal and sung exceptionally well by Job Kurian, the song is often appreciated for Job’s incredible vocal range. Rafeeq Ahamed penned a masterpiece, which forces listeners to give additional attention to the lyrics and identify the beauty in it.
If you read the lyrics of the song as a poetic work, the lyrics have everything to paint a picture by themselves. Rafeeq Ahamed draws the beauty of friendship and journey/travels in a parallel narrative, to point out that beautiful moments and memories are experienced by travelling with your loved ones. “Kaaderaan vaa, kooderaan vaa; kanduthumalla kettathala…” is a line that calls listeners to embark on a journey with their buddies to create memories together.
The lyrics of this song are so good that they should be studied and analysed by literature students for the layers and imagery present within them. It is an emotional song that portrays the loss of all good things from the protagonist’s life. Yet again, Bijibal creates a beauty and Shahabaz Aman’s rendition is nothing short of magic. Shahabaz Aman soothingly pulls his listeners into a labyrinth.
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Nidheesh Nadery, through his lyrics, gave birth to an amazing song about loss without force-feeding listeners. “Ormayilazhnethre kaathangal neenthanam neeyam theerameran” is my favourite line from the song, as it talks about the character’s journey through memory to reach the shore of happiness. Imagery at its finest!
Kadukumanikkoru Kannundu (Kappela)
This song came as a surprise to most Sushin Shyam fans who made this light-hearted fun song. But it was Sithara Krishnakumar’s rendition that’s stuck in our minds. The appreciation for this song should also extend to Vishnu Shobana’s lyrics. Why?
If you listen closely, all the lines in the song start with a ‘ka’ sound. I believe one reason why this song became an earworm is because of this alliterative structure. What’s even more interesting is the fact that it follows a fun-filled narrative. Certainly, the lyrics played a pivotal part in uplifting the mood of the song.
Kando Ninte Kannil Oru Prajandanam (Sunday Holiday)
This is one of those songs that we would have all danced to without thinking about what the lyrics actually mean. This is why it earned a spot on my list. Most people like this song because the lyrics sound absurd.
Prajandanam, drishtadanam, thuplodhayam, etc. are not words that Malayalis use in their daily lives. Jis Joy, the director himself, penned the lyrics. This song was composed by Deepak Dev and sung by Anvar Sadath. The fact that many of us can recall the lyrics and sing them out loud is testimony to the impact that they have had on us.
This is not an exhaustive list and is just a list of my personal favourites. The Malayalam music industry has seen legendary lyricists like Vayalar Ramavarma, P. Bhaskaran, Gireesh Puthenchery and so on, whose works can’t be summarised in a single article. Please feel free to add your favourites in the comment section.