‘Knowing my sorry plight, can’t you save me?’ begs Tyagaraja. The words of desperate but oh so beautifully set to music! The angst moves the composer who moves the air such that they shower emotions through our eardrums vibrating just so…
I wonder, did Krishna remain unmoved to Tyagaraja’s pleas? Then He is indeed made of stone, like the idols we worship….…but no, I am wrong. Even stone would melt, so beautiful is the composition.
My memories of this song is from early childhood. My parents would take me to Carnatic Music concerts in R.R.Sabha in Kolkata where, after sitting for 15 minutes, I would beg to be allowed to play on the porch of the concert hall where all the other young ones would join me soon. One could still hear the music as there were loudspeakers outside. When I was tired I would come back to sit in my mother’s lap or sleep on my father’s shoulders. Its in that sleepy state that this divine music entered my soul where it still rules. My mother’s favourite vocalist was the incomparable Maestro Balamuralikrishna and of the songs he sang, Nagumomu was one of her favourites. So magical was his voice that even a child interested in play stopped to listen. Today when I listen to him singing Nagumomu, I feel the pleasure of my mother’s arms around me.
Click here for lyrics and translation and here for the notation. To know more about this raga, click here.
Whom else can I present but Balamuralikrishna ? He is famous for his expressive rendition of this song. This version is from the album Paddhati by Charsur Digital Workstation. The music was recorded in Bangalore in 1968. This then is the voice I remember.
‘Please protect me!’ begs the poet-composer Subbaraya Shastri, ‘I have placed my trust in you, who else is there for me?’. Did the Mother Goddess listen to his entreaties? Listening to the beautiful composition in Raga Ritigowla, I think that even the hardest of hearts would melt at his words.
Subbaraya Shastri (1803-1862) was the son of Shyama Shastri and went on to become the disciple of Tyagaraja. He also worked with Muthuswami Dikshithar, and thus was in the enviable position of having learnt from all the members of the Carnatic Trinity. He also learnt Hindustani music from Maratha musicians who lived in the South. He composed only 20 or so kritis but there are gems amongst them, such as Janani Ninnuvina. He was a great devotee of the Goddess and his bhaktibhava (devotional mood) is very evident in this slow and restful composition. When the body or spirit needs healing, this is the song I reach for.
For lyrics, notation and translation click here. To know more about the raga, click here.
To present this song, I have chosen renditions by two Maestros whom I respect above all – Balamuralikrishna whose magnificent voice enhances any music and Lalgudi Jayaraman whose strings speak a lyricism which have enchanted me always. Sometimes well loved old ‘voices’ are the only ones which seem right.
I admit it. Indian Mythological films are often made for the lowest common denominator. Their special effects aren’t in the least special. There is a fair bit of melodrama. I watched the excruciatingly slow-moving Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and though I looked askance at the amateurish way many things were represented, I never thought of giving up. And recently, when I was sick in bed, I turned to a number of my childhood favourites in Tamil. I cannot be critical of them, even though in certain bits they deserved criticism. When I watch them, I am transported once more in childish delight. So what draws me (and others with the same affliction)? Is it the familiarity of stories learnt from childhood? Is it just our ‘Harry Potter’ – a world of magical powers? Is it a form of piety? No answers…
So to celebrate the power of Mythological films, I present the following song from one of the best in this genre, a beloved & iconic film for Tamil viewers:
Album : Thiruvilayadal (1965)
Music : K.V.Mahadevan
Lyrics : Kannadasan
Song : Pattum Nane Bhavamum Naane
Singer : T.M.Sounderarajan
Sivaji Ganesan’s performance in this song makes me understand exactly why he was so well admired.
Below is the equally beloved other song from the same film, sung superbly by Carnatic music stalwart Dr. Balamuralikrishna :
Oru Naal Poduma–Balamuralikrishna
If you want to watch this old Tamil favourite, you can do so here.
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