Discover Janaki Chechi

My aunt's family used to be radio worshipers. Particularly, the pocket radio from Philips which used to retail under Rs.100 in the late 80s. In order to avoid the clash of - Is it going to be 'All India Radio - Trichy' or 'Madurai' or 'Chennai Vanoli Nilayam' for the prime time show, each of them had their own and used to get drowned in their own world. One of them was a walking encyclopedia of the entire discography of Tamil cinema. Be it the songs of MSV or KVM or Raaja or V Kumar or Sankar Ganesh or whoever it is, You tell her the song name and she used to give you the entire history of it faster than a Google search ! Its through her I came to know of this song called "Neer Veezhchi Thee Mootudhae" from the movie "Kanne Kalaimaane". I used to think thats a original Tamil number composed by Raaja and used to take pride of being privy to such a high class number. Even in my Coimbatore college days, probably only 1 out of 10 knew this song, least realizing the fact that just across the border a few kilometers away, The original version of this song is akin to National anthem. "Thumbi Vaa" from Olangal was and is a mega hit in Kerala.

That song is a odd man out. It gained its fair share of reputation all across the country due to its recent incarnations in "Live In Italy" and "Paa". But there are many more 'its-a-crime-to-miss-this-song' from other languages which people from other states are not aware of. Since its been a while I touched upon Vicky's Virtual Playlists, I thought this time I will take up some of my Malayalam solo favorites of S.Janaki.

Like in other languages, Janaki was the first choice for Raaja's Malayalam songs especially in his early days. Majority of these songs are between 1977 to 1985. Its not a co-incidence that she didn't sing much for Raaja after this in Malayalam. (Chitra was found there after ! She had an edge probably hailing from the state) Another interesting aspect is that some of these songs are for a Balu Mahendra Movie. Hence they standout in terms of quality due to their astounding chemistry. Some of these songs are popular in Tamil as well while the truth is they are originally composed for Malayalam movies first.

So Discover Janaki Chechi !

1. Poovadikalil - Vyamoham
The year is 1977.. A very pleasing light music song with focus on lyrics and melody with not much attention on Orchestration.. Atypical of Raaja, even for those times. Probably it was the compulsion from the producer to give a song sounding like contemporary Hindi music of that time. Even then this serves an indication of Raaja's viswaroopam to come in terms of melodic beauty. I believe the KJ-SJ duet version of this song is actually more popular. This solo version by Janaki is relatively rare.

2. Paalaruvi Paadivaru - Dooram Arike (1980)
Listen to the prelude humming and its obvious this is a folk song. And soon after that listen to the Swing Waltz of Rhythm Guitar and Bass combo in the prelude. If that doesn't leave you dumb, note the seamless shift back to the Folk rhythm of the main song.

3. Tanal Virikkan - Aalolam (1982)
In my personal opinion this is the best Chakaravagam by Raaja. Its obvious why Raaja holds Janaki in high esteem if you listen to such songs. Its very difficult to drip emotions when the song is technically challenging and probably Janaki is one of the best in the business who can do it like second nature.

4. Veene Veene - Aalolam (1982)
Beautiful song. It was reused later as 'Ondra Renda' from the movie 'Thazhuvatha Kaigal' in Tamil.

5. Kiliye Kiliye - Aa Raatri (1982)
Rocking song, which sure must have been fresh sounding at that time (Why, even now actually !). This song is one of my favorites for its Bass patterns.

6. Theeram Thedi - Unaru (1984)
From one of earliest Mani Ratnam Movie, this song is the Malayalam version of 'Roja Ondru' from Komberi Mookkan which also came in the same year. But look at the variation in the presentation of both songs. Listen to the M7th strums in the interludes. What a stylish sound. Compare it with equally powerful but simple rendition of 'Roja Ondru'. Would any one believe both are same melody.

7. Yamuna Theere - Yaathra (1985)
Its Balu Mahendra and hence another regulation Raaja stuff.

8. En Poove - Pappayude Swandam Appus (1992)
This song very closely resembles "Nee Dhaana" from "Thalattu padava" and yet this is a high quality Keeravani in its own right. Espeically very neatly done pallavi finishings by Janaki etc.,

9. Olathumbathirunnu - Pappayude Swandam Appus (1992)
I believe, This is one of those national anthem kind of songs again.. Early 90s was the time when he had a different color to his Strings. It used to create a free falling effect. Listen to Maasi Maasam, Chromatic descents of Finishers in Oh Butterfly, Re-recording of many movies in this time frame such as Nadodi Thendral, Veera etc., Just like the interlude of this song.

Now for the biggie..

10. ThazhampooThaalil - Oomakkuyil (1983)
Balu Mahendra again. There are two unforgivable things about this song. Number one, many many Hard core Raaja fans from Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and rest of India is not aware of this song. Number two, YG Mahendran was the hero in this song :-).

I simply didn't have the heart to edit this song and post only a portion of it.. Because whichever portion of the song I considered, it made a strong case to be the one. What to say of the bass parts of this song..? or the guitar solo in 2nd interlude.. Another testimony to Janaki's inimitable talent of rendering almost impossible things in a way making others look useless. Listen to the feel through out this song.. and the voice control (especially places like finishing of Pallavi) If you are an aspiring singer on one of those TV shows, please attempt such songs. If you can reproduce this emotion with no tinge of artificiality and this level of voice control + note sense as effortlessly, then the trophy is yours.

Hope you liked the guided tour of God's Own Country !

With Love