Malayalees Celebrate the Fifty Years of Heaven, as Yesudas Writes his Name in Gold
by Elizabeth Menon

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Malayalees Celebrate the Fifty Years of Heaven, as Yesudas Writes his Name in Gold

It was 14 November 1961, the Birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, celebrated as ‘Children’s Day’ in India -- a legend was born that day in the recording studio in Madras and now Malayalees celebrate the golden anniversary of that big day! A young boy from Cochin gave life to the four lines of Shloka by Sree Narayana Guru, under the direction M B Srinivasan for the film ‘Kaalppaatukal’ produced by Raman Nampiyathu, an anthem for Malayalees ever since:

“Jaathi Bhedam Mathadwhesham,
Ethumillaathe Sarvvarum
Sodarathwena Vaazhunna
Mathrukaa Sthaanamaanithu”

I would say that it was destiny that played a part making this young boy to render these famous lines, to be engraved in gold for eternity -- he had an attack of flu that prevented him from singing another song! As you may have guessed, that boy was none other than Dr K J Yesudas, whom we lovingly call ’Dasettan’, who has become an essential part of our life like breathing! Yesudas is the God-given gift to Malayalees and his celestial voice is with them in their hour of need, moments of pleasure, happiness, sorrow, love and ecstasy, misery, loneliness, or philosophical mood, or any other emotion that one can think of! His golden voice is what most Malayalees hear before they go to sleep and listen to this magical voice at all other possible wakeful seconds! Even our Gods are put to sleep on this heavenly voice – 'Harivaraasanam …’ is played at Shabarimala before closing the temple for the day!

Sometimes I feel that one has to invent new words to express the genius of this great man, but somehow we still find words! He has rendered more than 50,000 songs in various languages from India and abroad and still, people just long for his new songs with reverence -- his new songs such as ‘Maayum maaya meghangale, Kali paranjaalum, Paathi maayum Chandralekhe, Kannaram pothikkalichitam’, etc; still top the charts, outshining all else!

He is untouched by the seasons, and his voice is still just as vibrant, taking his listeners to celestial ecstasy, so much so that music directors are churning out his old songs for the new films! It was only few months ago that the legendary music director M. K. Arjunan and Yesudas got together for the re-make of Sreekumaran Thampi's “Kasthuuri manakkunnallo kaatte..’ from the film ‘Picnic’, for the new film ‘Naayika’. I was amazed, listening to both versions, to notice that 36 years made no difference in his voice, and the song had the ‘Kasthuuri fragrance’ in abundance, perhaps a bit more intense in depth and allure – when he sings Sreekumaran Thampi’s most erotic words, “Chenchuntu Vithumpi Ninno…’, the listener is taken to another world as he did all those years ago, which is a tribute for the trio, Yesudas, Sreekumaran Thampi and Arjunanan Master, and a boost to the music industry!!

When he sings he gives his all, creating magic. When songs such as 'Uthraatappoonilaave vaa, Aaro kamazhthi vachorotturuli pole,Villinmel thaalam kotti, Uthrada pooviliyil and kulichu kuriyittu' make you feel the festivities of Kerala, 'Gange, Hari muralee ravam, Samayamithapurva sayahnam, Sathyam shivam, Katile pazhmulam, Raghu vamsha pade, Parvathi manohari, Raghu vamsha sudha, ponnil kulichu and Hindola ragardranayi, take you beyond the sound barriers. 'Omane Nin Mukham, Hridayassarassile, Karalin kilimarathil, Mutippookkal Vaadiyalenthomane, Neelambujangal vitarnnu, Pinneyum pinneyum aaro kinavinte, Perariyaathoru nomparthe, Charuthe,Ponnaranganam, Ennotenthinee pinakkam, pinneyum pinneyum, Chandana cholayil, Manja kumkumam, Adyathe nottathil, Kannadi adyamayen, Anchunila panthalitta and Adyamayi kanta nal' make you float through a fairyland, on a romantic cloud! 'Amma mazhakkaarinu kan-niranju, Ee loka golathin, Mangalam nerunu njaan, Paranjilla njan Onnum, Marannittumenthino manasil thulumpunnu, Pradosha kumkumam, Sandhya koluthiya, Iniyennu kaanumen makale, Nanni arodu njaan chollentu, Onnu marakkan kazhingenkil and Parannu poya mohame', give you a touch of melancholy! Music directors such as M K Arjunan, Ravindran, Kaithapram, Babu Raj and the words of Vayalar, Sreekumaran Thampi, Kaithapram, ONV, Gireesh Puthencherry, , Yousafali Kecheri, Ramesan Nair and the others like them reach celestial heights – the magical ingredient of course, is the alluringly tempting voice of Yesudas!

It was Yesudas who opened the doors of Carnatic Music to thousands of people who would have been oblivious to it otherwise. He alone has done more than any person in history to change the image of Classical Carnatic Music; suddenly it was in vogue among the modern youth to be interested in Classical Music! Yesudas is always an inspiration to the younger generation, as he is refreshingly unpretentious and charismatic. He was the first Christian to cut across the barriers of tradition and caste, to climb the ladders of Carnatic music that was inaccessible to all, but Brahmins and a few high caste Hindus. He received distinction from RLV Music Academy at Thripunithura and 'Gana Bhushanam' from Swathi Thirunal Academy, Trivandrum in 1960. His contributions to music over the past five decades have been amazing. He has rendered more than 50,000 songs in various Indian languages since his debut in' Kaalpaatukal'. Music is religion to him with utmost purity and integrity due to his upbringing and inheritance. He is smothered in laurels; 'Ponnada' from the great Chempai Vaidya Natha Bhagavather, Padmabhushan and Padmasree from the President of India and an honorary Doctorate from Annamalai University, seven National and 17 State awards, to name a few and I am sure that ‘Bharat Ratna, is waiting for him in the wings! One must remember his family here, his parents, Augustin Joseph and Elizabeth; his wife Prabha and his three children, Vinod, Vijay and Vishal, and of course the little angel, his granddaughter Ameiya!

The irresistible combination of a unique style, alluring voice and a serene face that sparkle with youth, honesty and humility made him the living icon of generations, inspiration to the youth and absolute craze, especially among women of all ages, profession and class, to which he is quite oblivious! He is perhaps unpretentious, meditative and often solitary with a wonderful sense of humour, but his ability to communicate through music is magical. Every Malayali must respect that voice, and not criticize the blessed one who has the celestial voice tuned by God himself. The name 'Yesudas' must arouse national pride in us, just as Vallathol said about ‘Malayalam’,

May you live forever, as we cannot imagine a world without you!

© E Menon



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