Protos' Musings

"In the long run men hit only what they aim at" — Thoreau

Raveendran Maashu – a redux

with 6 comments

Looks like this is the redux season on my blog. As I wrote twice almost three years back, no music director has managed to strike a chord with me as much as the late legend Raveendran Maashu (Maashu, for the uninitiated, is Malayalam for Sir). When I was at Sydney, with no access to any Malayalam channels, I used to listen to a couple of CDs from my Malayalam songs collection from the 80s through 00s, and most of the songs I took with me were the ones from the stupendously successful and enormously talented Raveendran – Yesudas team. I am thankful I took them with me, though I didn’t take even a single movie or any other songs collection. I was happy listening to those songs almost daily!

Today I was watching Vivekanand’s latest performance in the Idea Star Singer competition – the “otta kambi naadam” song from the movie Thenum Vayambum (1981), originally sung by the incomparable Yesudas [go listen to it even if you don’t understand Malalyalam or music :)], a song so beautiful that it made Sharreth, one of my other favorite music directors, who is a judge in the show, remark “it should have been ‘oru laksham kambi naadam’..that is how majestically Yesudas has rendered this song.”. For the uninitiated, the opening three words of the original song lyric means “the sound of a solitary string [of a music instrument]” and Sharreth said “it should have been ‘the sound of a million strings’..that is how well Yesudas has rendered this song”.

Though Vivekanand had a bad day today, I still believe he is (going to be) the Star Singer 2008. Just listen to these four great songs from the previous rounds, and I hope you too would agree that this is one enormously talented lad. At least Ramesh had to change his opinion after allowing himself to be swept away by the beauty of Vivek’s rendition of the song “oru kadalaay”. I think he did a slightly better job than the original, thanks to his rich voice. Here is the playlist with his entire performance so far, and I find myself playing songs from this list, at least once a week, for a few weeks now. You too might find it a nice way to spend an hour or so :).

As I was listening to Sharreth’s comments, I thought I will search for some more info about Raveendran maashu. It was then that I stumbled across this Wikipedia entry on Raveendran maashu and this blog from Nikhil Venugopal, who seems to know music and loves music far better/more than me, where he has three great posts on (including an interview with) Raveendran maashu. The only drawback (a drawback if you can’t read Malayalam) is that it is in Malayalam, though the first post about Raveendran is in English.

I am not well versed in Carnatic music (I don’t know the raagas in spite of learning Carnatic for two or three years in my childhood days, though I think I can discern great music from merely good or average music from downright bad music or noise), I found the posts both interesting and nostalgic.

It took me back to my childhood days when I used to tune into the cinema songs hour(s) in Vividh Bharathi and All India Radio (Trivandrum station), perhaps just like so many other people in my native (and perhaps around India) at that time — mid and late 80s and early 90s. Television was just making an appearance and even if it had, it was certainly not 24*7 and there was just one channel – Doordarshan (Indian National Channel run by the Government). So the radio was a far more important and influential medium than it is today.

Anyway, I hope you like Nikhil’s posts. I really don’t know why we don’t have a 5 CD or 10 CD pack of his songs yet (or is it already out in Kerala already?). He deserves a HMV-SaReGaMa Legends collection or something equivalent.

Finally, to really understand who or what Sharreth is and why I like him, listen to these three samples, and yes, all are his own compositions. If you are going to listen to just one of them, let it be this duet with Unnikrishnan. Here is the search list of songs available in You Tube sung by Sharreth if you want to listen to more.

Oh, yes, lest I forget, Raveendran maashu had this to say about Sharreth in 1994:

Q: Does any of the new generation music directors give you hope?

A [Raveendran Maashu]: Sharreth. There is music in his songs. He understands music. We should encourage and congratulate him.

I hope Sharreth would give us scores (or hundreds) of beautiful songs in the future. Malayalam music industry hasn’t been too supportive of Sharreth in the past, and I hope that would change for the better. May Kerala not join the rest of the country in giving the cold shoulder to shudha-sangeetham (pure music) in mainstream cinema music. I hope Kerala continues to encourage more and more youngsters to learn the basics of music before dreaming big and high.

I have my hopes set high after listening to this today – the Classical music round from last year’s Idea Star Singer, sung by Thushar. I don’t think any of the reality music shows in either Tamil or Hindi has anything like this (perhaps I am wrong here, but I wouldn’t mind knowing about another show that is in the same class) or where the contestants are of this class or this versatile. Don’t forget to listen to the judge’s comments too. Kerala is blessed to have given birth to so many world class talented souls — Yesudas, Raveendran, Chithra, Sujatha, Unnikrishnan, Johnson, Ousepachan and Sharreth to name just a few (and not including any of the music directors from the previous generation).


Written by Proto

January 11, 2009 at 01:08 hrs

6 Responses

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  1. Vivek is good
    but i think Prasobh will win…he has consistently performed so far.

    Sharath’s judgements are superb and more so his witty one liners and satire remarks apt to the occasion
    there was recent movie tuned by Sharath Thirakadha (prithviraj movie), did you hear it?
    somehow i didnt like any songs in that…


    January 11, 2009 at 01:28 hrs

  2. also have listened to ausepachans Ore Kadal songs….?
    i just love those…
    if you havent heard them try them once


    January 11, 2009 at 01:31 hrs

  3. Thanks for the comments, Apple. Good to know that you are sort of following the show :). I won’t rate Prasobh as high as Vivek, in terms of talent. But whether talent translates to marks is another issue. I think I have linked to Vivek’s rendition of the oru kadalaay song as well as linked to the original song itself. Read the post again..have modified the ending, to hail God’s own country.


    January 11, 2009 at 01:43 hrs

  4. ok those are the problems of reading at 2am in the night ;-)
    I started following ISS last year bcoz of Thushar..
    probably you are right no one else give importance to classical music as Mallus do…


    January 12, 2009 at 11:28 hrs

  5. Agree completely – Ravindam mashu is a LEGEND – Bharatham , Aram thamburan , Vadakkum Nathan……..Can count lots………And one of my all time favorite “Ennum ente kannu neeril , Ninnorma punjirichu” he utilises Yesudas magical voices to fullest extent ..
    In one TV interview , I remember mashu saying how he adores Dasettan’s voice and he did “Hari muraliravam” as an answer to the critics on Yesudas’s best days were over.. I am sure he had that in mind when he did “Gange” again for Yesudas …..I think he was in his best when doing this romantic sad songs and the classical numbers like in Bharatham , His highness Abhulla .. True legend… Ella Malayalikalkumm oru cheriya ahankaramthode ennum ennum orkkan…………………..


    January 16, 2009 at 11:03 hrs

    • Thanks, Mini, for the comment. Yeah, no words can ever do justice to the beauty of his songs or his genius. It has to be experienced first hand. The more I start listening to Carnatic, the more I appreciate his talent and creations.


      January 16, 2009 at 20:20 hrs

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