In flashback mode
P.K. AJITH KUMAR
Music composer B.A. Chidambaranath takes a walk down memory lane.
PHOTO: S. RAMESH KURUP
ONE OF THE PIONEERS: B.A. Chidambaranath was honoured by All India Radio, Kozhikode.
Few songs convey the mood of a film as evocatively as `Karayunno puzha chirikkunno... ' from `Murappennu.' If P. Bhaskaran's lines were perfect for the situation, K.J. Jesudas' golden voice evocatively expressed the meaning of the lyrics and the story of an ill-fated romance. And the composer of the song was B.A. Chidambaranath. His tune complemented the lyrics; capturing the melancholic thread of the film and today, more than 40 years after it was first recorded, it continues to be a popular song.
"It is one of my favourites too," says Chidamabaranath, who was honoured recently by All India Radio, Kozhikode, where he had worked for 10 years. "Director A. Vincent and Bhaskaran explained the situation and I thought this particular tune would be the perfect one," recalls the veteran composer.
Another of his favourites from the same film is `Kadavathu thoniyadukkumbol... ,' rendered by S. Janaki and Santha P. Nair. "In those days, we created songs to suit the situation," he says.
At 83, Chidambaranath's memory fails him at times, but he still remembers most of the songs he composed in 40 films. P. Jayachandran sang his first song `Oru mulla... ' in `Kunjali Marakkar' under Chidambaranath's baton. He is the only composer for whom Sugatha Kumari wrote the lyrics for a film (`Neela neela vanam' in the film `Kalippava').
Although it was in the 60's that his career as a composer blossomed, he made his debut in 1949.
"For my first film `Vellinakshathram,' I tried to create something of my own; I remember the producer and the director coming to me with some gramophone records, from which I was supposed to copy, but I refused. Thikkurissi was also against the idea of imitation, so it was great working with him in `Sthree,'' he recounts.
Chidambaranath learnt music from his father, Bhoothapandi Arunachalam Annavi. "He was a versatile man, a Tamil pundit who could play different instruments, including the nadaswaram. My favourite musical instrument has always been the violin," he says.
In fact, he has accompanied Chembai Vadiyanatha Bhagavathar on the violin. "He is my all-time favourite in Carnatic music. I have also accompanied Jesudas," he says.
Apart from film songs, he has composed numerous light and devotional songs, of which `Gangayaru pirakkunnu... ,' sung by Jesudas is still played in temples. It remains one of the finest songs ever on Lord Ayyappa. Chidambaranath has also written and composed some kritis in Tamil, notably `Vani vagadeswari.'
Most of his songs were sung by Jesudas and S. Janaki, two of his favourite singers. "I would have liked to use P. Susheela's voice too, but she was so busy," he says.
Elaborating on his rapport with singers, he says, " Janaki, says I am like a brother to her . I like Chitra [K.S. Chitra] too; she has excellent grasping power. As far as male singers are concerned, nobody can reach Jesudas. His father was a friend of mine and would visit me in Chennai along with Jesudas, who was a young boy then. "
What about the composers?
"Among the composers today, I like Johnson. He is very good," says Chidambaranath, who last film was `Aramanaveedum Anjoorekkarum' (1996), in which he composed the music along with his son Rajamani.
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