Song of the Day: en kaNmaNi en paadal kELadi from ninaivO oru paRavai.
Sung by SPB
. Lyrics by Vairamuthu
. Music by Jerry Amaldev
* * * *
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.
- Abraham Lincoln
I don’t understand the lyrics wholly, yet each time I listen to the tender strains of ‘Aayiram kannumaai kaathirunnu ninne njaan’
, I am overcome at the fragility and fleeting ethereality of human relationships that the song manages so effortlessly to convey across barriers of language. Is it the studied leisurely gait of the song, or the magic of Yesudas, or the dreamy interludes, or the insistent choral refrain ‘painkili malar thenkili’
, or the invigorating effect of the combined concoction- I cannot fathom. Yet the song leaves me shaken at every listen, and I offer a mental salute to the composer who crafted such a jewel.
And even within my limited knowledge of Malayalam film songs, many of this composer’s creations rank high in my list of favorites- the caressing gentleness of ‘Kannodu kannoram ni kani malaralle’
and ‘Aalorungi arangorungi aayiram therorungi’
(Ente Maamatti Kuttiyammaku), the fun and frolic that reverberates throughout ‘Minnum minna minni’
and the hushed angst in ‘Thilangum thingale’ (No.1 Snehatheeram Bangalore North), the stylish prelude with which ‘Neerkili neendhivaa’
(Punnaram Cholli Cholli) opens, the silky warp and waft of ‘Dhevadhumdhubhi saandralayam’
(Ennennum Kannettante), the euphoric empathy at the determined streak of adolescent mutiny that ‘Vanambaadi edho theerangal thedunna vanambaadi’
(Deshadanakili Karayarilla ) evidences…. Scintillating signatures of an unsung genius.
Luck has always played a capricious game of hide and seek with Jerry Amaldev. The man studied for years in a seminary with the intention of becoming a priest, but realizing his true calling, gave up his religious aspirations without much regret. His inherent gift for music, and years of learning Hindustani classical, tabla and the piano made him approach the legendary Naushad. Deeply impressed at the young lad’s enthusiasm, Naushad took him on as his assistant. After 5 years, Jerry went to US and completed a Bachelors degree in Music in New Orleans, followed by a Masters in Composition at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. He even taught in Queen’s College in New York, before returning to India to try his hand at film music.
He could not have wished for a better opening. Manjil Virinja Pookkal (1980/ Navodaya) by Faazil, starring Shankar, Mohanlal and Poornima Jairam was a thumping success, aided strongly by Jerry’s brilliant score. The awesome interludes in SJ’s ‘mizhiyoram’
were of a kind never heard before. The State Award was his, and he looked all set to be mfm’s darling of the decade. But things didn’t turn out quite that way, and despite coming out with stunners in the ensuing years, Jerry Amaldev found himself slowly, but surely sidelined.
1986. Jerry Amaldev was approached to compose music for a Tamil film, and he set about the task, excited at the prospects that this album could summon up. ninaivO oru paRavai (Scorpio Creations) was produced by K.Ajit and directed by ‘uchchakattam’ fame N.S.Rajbharath. Rahman was the hero. Vairamuthu wrote the lyrics for the songs.
And what wonderful songs they were! ‘thEn kudiththa thendRal’
(SPB/Chitra) must be the among the softest romantic duets ever. ‘endhan kaNNE’
(KJY/BSS) is made for the mellifluosness of KJY. ‘muththam engE’
tantalizes despite the innate limitations of S.P.Shailaja. 'kaathalikka katRukkoL’
might have made Raj Seetharaman really famous, if only the song had ever been aired.
And as for the SOTD, do I really need to dwell upon it? Vairamuthu writes with his pen darting as cupid’s arrow, Jerry Amaldev conceives a tune that casts a beguiling spell, and our SPB takes charge nonchalantly to make Amaldev’s Tamil debut unforgettable.
I imagine Rahman singing in a cloudy night, perhaps under the window of his beloved (a la Gemini in ‘kaadhal nilavE kaNmaNi radha’
) trying to get her to sleep. The overcast sky opens up, and the sudden showers, instead of cooling his ardor, end up kindling the flame of passion! And then do you suppose, sleep would ever beckon the eyelids of one whose heart bursts with longings wrought by love, and whose ears thrill to the passionate wooing of her suitor? Yet he sings his lullaby, and when she does sleep exhaustedly in the end, her eyelids would surely be heavily laden with delicious dreams.
Jerry Amaldev’s famed orchestrational brilliance is evident in the flowing interludes- they urge the listener to try flapping imaginary wings and soar exultantly high in the air. I have seldom listened to operatic passages of this class in tfm! SPB must have sensed the extraordinary beauty of the composition, for he unleashes his magic in all its potent strength, and gleefully cloaks each line with his endearing nuances.
How much Jerry Amaldev must have looked forward to this album! Read this interview at the time of the expected release of ninaivO oru paRavai (December 1986) here:
http://www.studio-systems.com/Playback& ... /Dec30.htm
Unfortunately for him, ninavO oru paRavai was never released. But Radio Ceylon did air the songs, at least for a brief while in 1986-87. And then the songs disappeared forever. Much later, (yes, in Virudunagar!) I chanced upon a record of the film (with Rahman on a bike featured on its sleeve), and got those cherished songs recorded.
poovE iLam poovE (1987/ Vijayakala Pictures) did manage a release, but was a prompt failure, notwithstanding the then successful pairing of Suresh and Nadia. Despite this, Jerry Amaldev’s songs therein like ‘paattu paada vandhEn’
(VJ), ‘gangai nadhi’
(SJ) and ‘puththam pudhidhu’
(SPB/Chitra) did get a deservedly generous airtime.
I don’t know if Jerry Amaldev scored for a Tamil film ever again. (The vandhadhu vasantham mentioned in the interview seems to have shared the stillborn fate of ninaivO oru paRavai)
Offers and Awards have come sporadically. He was awarded the Amritavarshini Puraskaram for music in the Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Awards 2001. In the year in which Ilaiyaraja won the Kerala State Govt’s Award for the Best Music Director (song) for Kaalapani, Jerry Amaldev bagged the Award for the Best Music Director (Background music) for his work in Kazhakam.
Jerry Amaldev leads a quiet, contended life in Selaiyur, a Chennai suburb. He does music for Christian devotional songs. He harbors no bitter thoughts, and accepts his fate with a philosophical shrug.
When asked about Amaldev (Sangeetha Sagaram/Asianet), Vani Jairam spoke glowingly about his “beautiful orchestrations”. She ended her panegyric saying ‘Oh, he’s a very nice man”. And that perhaps is an ultimate tribute to this neglected composer!