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Music from the heart

G. Devarajan, who has completed 50 years in the Malayalam film industry, goes down memory lane.

G. Devarajan's genius made each song a hit.

THE NOTED music director G. Devarajan is getting ready to charm Malayalis with the magic of his soulful music yet again. He plans to set to music some of the slokas of Sree Narayana Guru.

"The Guru is a great spiritual leader whom I admire. He has had a profound influence on my life," Devarajan says.

During the last 50 years, Devarajan scored the music for 353 films and innumerable plays.

Dream duo

He worked with ONV Kurup to compose the music for `Kaalam Marunnu' in 1955. It was a film that altered the course of Malayalam film music as it brought together two creative minds who transformed Malayalam film music with the golden touch of their genius.

The songs of `Kaalam Marunnu' were recorded in three days at Merryland Studio in Thiruvananthapuram. "A tabalist Palaniswamy arranged the orchestra. K.S. George, KPAC Sulochana, Kamukara Purushothaman, Lalitha Thampi and Santha P. Nair rendered the songs. The songs were all popular," he recalls.

In an introspective mood, the musician says: "Be it in life or my career, I have always been uncompromising. You may call me arrogant and impudent. That does not affect me. I hold fast to my values and that has inspired me to lead the life I wanted. I don't go by what others think of me," he asserts.

The man who demystified Carnatic music and introduced its melody and reach to the common man does not mince words.

"I have never pleaded for a chance. Those who had faith in me came to me. Austerity is the hallmark of my life and music. There are many who have not given me my remuneration. A producer for whom I composed the songs in 31 films, never gave me anything at all. But the industry reveres him as a guru and is now getting ready to pay obeisance to him," he says.

His first recording session in Chennai was in 1951. To cash in on the popularity of the drama songs of KPAC, HMV decided to bring out discs and all the songs were recorded at their studio in Chennai. "The studio room was very small. They did not have a dedicated orchestra and used to call the artistes for each recording session.

The duration of the HMV discs was 2.55 minutes and I had to record an abridged version of `Ponnarival ambiliyil... ' to include it in the disc. While recording these songs I remember Soundrarajan, P. Leela and other singers waiting for their turn in the studio. After recording the film songs at the studios, the singers used to rush to the HMV studio and record it again for the disc," he remembers.

Devarajan recollects that the first song he composed was the one written by his childhood friend M.K. Raghavan Pillai. He had composed the music for many other poems, including those written by G. Kumara Pillai.

Novel experience

It turned out to be a novel experience for the audience when they heard Devarajan sing G. Kumara Pilla's poem, `Aararo pokuvathrao... ' at VJT Hall in Thiruvananthapuram.

The veteran Communist leader and lawyer G. Janardhana Kurup was also in the audience. Later, when Janardhana Kurup formed Kerala Peoples' Arts Club along with Punalur Rajagopalan Nair and K.S. Rajamony, he entrusted ONVKurup and Devarajan to compose the songs for the plays.

Devarajan shares a warm camaraderie with Janardhana Kurup whom he affectionately calls `Kurup chettan.'

Talking about his friend Vayalar, he says, "I have never seen such a resourceful poet and an honest man. Had he lived for another decade, he would have done wonders. Now, Devarajan is planning to immortalise Valayar's memory by installing his bust in the capital city.

Photo: S. Gopakumar

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