My friend Sandeep asked me to do a post like I did in the last year to list out my favorite Malayalam songs of the year 2009. Like in the last year, choosing a list of top songs was not at all a difficult job this year too. I must recall a comment now, that I received from blogger Ajith Edassery to my last year’s post which explains the pathetic trend of Malayalam film music in the recent times:
Personally, I was disappointed at the following trend in the past two years:
– Digital overkill in music industry
– The surge of Telugu dubbed movies in Malayalam and their pathetic songs
– Those ‘mone, kuttaa, edaa…’ kind of so-called love songs in the past two or three years… A blind immitation of Hindi and Tamil that doesn’t naturally fit to Malayalam
Most of the songs of 2009 were run-off-the-mill or the old-wine-in-new-bottle kinda. But there were some good works too. So here is my list of best Malayalam songs from the year 2009. There were 8 songs to pick in the last year, but I have only 7 this time.
Song: Anuraaga Vilochananaayi
Singer: Sreekumar, Shreya Ghoshal
Lyrics: Vayalar Sarathchandra Varma
This song is a massive popular hit and you would instantly love it. But as much as I would like to hum/sing this song, I cannot ignore the fact that it is a refined old wine. This song has clear shades of Vidyasagar’s old Malayalam works like “Karimizhiye Kandeela” from Meesa Madhavan and there are people who say that the percussion reminds them of the remixed version of Kaliyon Ka Chaman. There are several pronunciation errors at both singer’s parts and though Shreya Ghoshal is my favorite singer, I can’t take this song to the top 5. I liked the expressiveness in the male vocals (he brings in the right Sringaara bhaavam to the song) and that is the only reason I’m taking this song to my list.
Singer: Gayathri, Sujith
Music: Rahul Raj
Lyrics: Rafeeq Ahmed
The reason I chose this song is purely because of singer Gayathri. She has made this song beautiful with her wonderful voice and gave the right expressions which suits the song perfectly well. The male vocals starts at off notes, but Gayathri takes this song so well to make it worthy to listen. Rahul Raj also has done a neat job in composing.
Singer: Vijay Yesudas
Music arrangement: Bijibal
Many attempts that we had at remixing old Malayalam songs have been pathetic. The people who did remixes of old songs seem to have thought that adding a bit of rap with some random English words would make a good remix (somebody should also explain to them what Rap music is) or adding some techno beats would spice it up. The result is the kind of songs like “Chetti, chetti, chettikulangara” (from Chotta Mumbai) which is quite an insult to the original (I wish such music directors learn something from Leslie Lewis on how he remixes some old Hindi songs). It is in this context that I appreciate the remix of a song that Malayali holds so dear to his heart – Alliyambal. It is a very nostalgic song for every Malayali and any lame attempt to kill the song would definitely be suicidal. But music director Bijibal has done a wonderful job at rearranging the orchestration for this song while keeping the melodic soul of the original. And he roped in Yesudas’s (the original singer) son Vijay Yesudas to sing it (to add market value?). Anyways, the result is a beautiful song and it is definitely a feather in the cap of Vijay Yesudas. I would give the credit to Bijibal. I had written last year that he is a promising music director. Here is a music director with some music sense to watch for.
Song: Swapnangal Kannezhuthiya
Movie: Bhagya Devatha
Singer(s): Chithra K S, Rahul Nambiar
Lyrics: Vayalar Sarathchandra Varma
This is a classic Ilaiyaraja song. There is nothing in this song that surprises you if you are an Ilaiyaraja fan, but it is this melodic treat that you love Ilaiyaraja for and the maestro does not disappoint you on that with this song. The music, orchestration, singers – everything about this is as you wanted to hear. Goes straight to my favs from 2009.
Song: Picha vacha naal (my version here)
Movie: Puthiya Mugham
Singer: Shankar Mahadevan
Music: Deepak Dev
Another massive popular hit from the year 2009 and quite obviously so. Simple but romantic lyrics from Kaithapram and Deepak Dev’s music make this song hummable for everyone. I also like the way the orchestration is done so that there is no heavy instrumental noises in the background where the vocals go. It’s just a simple percussion to support the vocals and that adds so much to the beauty of this song. Kudos to Deepak Dev!
Song: Saayam Sandhye
Movie: Sufi Paranja Katha
Singer: Latha Krishnan
Music: Mohan Sitara
Lyrics: Rafeeq Ahammed
Another melodious gem from Mohan Sitara and a soulful rendition by Latha Krishnan (I definitely would like to try an unplugged version of this song). I could just close my eyes by listening to this song and immerse fully into the pleasure that only music can give.
Song: Chaanthu Thottille (my version here)
Singer: Shreya Ghoshal
Music: M Jayachandran
Lyrics: Gireesh Puthenchery
This song tops my list for various reasons. There has not been any Dhandiya song (May I add – not that I know of, if there are any others, please do let me know) in Malayalam and M Jayachandran has done a wonderful job with this song. Shreya Ghoshal’s singing is so heavenly. You would forget the fact that she comes from Bengal when you hear her singing this song as her pronunciation in this song is perfect that not even any south Indian singer, other than a Malayali, could deliver it to this perfection. The best part that I enjoyed in this song is when she sings “pRiyanoraaL innu vannuvO” where only guitars support the background and then percussion slowly comes up. Two thumbs up!
Post script: One thing that I have noticed is that the top picks of this year’s songs are mostly written by two (comparatively new) lyricists – Rafeeq Ahmed and Vayalar Sharathchandra Varma. While Rafeeq Ahmed adds a beautiful touch of poetry to his songs, Vayalar Sharath follows the path of his father that contains simple but beautiful words which go straight to your heart. Those two lyricists are here to stay and going to give us more gems, am sure. Also outside Kerala singers like Shreya Ghoshal are singing more often in Malayalam movies. Another interesting thing to notice is that many new singers are coming up and they are being noticed much more than the popular singers like Yesudas, M G Sreekumar etc. In the early days, a singer’s ability to deliver a good song was measured by how well he could sing a semi-classical song, but the singers of these days have very good expressive vocals and a refreshing tone in their voices.