Legendary music director K Raghavan has composed history in Malayalam film music with his unparalleled style formed by interpolating a unique mixture of the rhythms of Mappila song and folk music of Malabar.
The evergreen melodies gifted to Malayalis by P Bhaskaran-K Raghavan combination were a refinement of the music of the secular urban downtrodden and rural folk of Malabar. The songs and tunes employed by the fisherfolk of his native village Thalayi also might have enriched Raghavan’s concepts of music. The strong Hindu-Muslim bond, which both coastal towns Kodungalloor and Thalassery, the home towns of Bhaskaran and Raghavan, shared, has undoubtedly had a profound influence on their songs. Bhaskaran could introduce a unique popular idiom in writing songs and Raghavan rendered fitting musical translations to them.
The unsophisticated singing style of the common folk, free from the stylised ritualistic music and distinct from the rhythm of typical vadakkan pattu, was the hallmark of Raghavan’s music and that mode of tune could easily appeal to the musical sense of the common man untrained in classical music. And the songs of Bhaskaran with Raghavan Master’s music were received with much enthusiasm at the rural gatherings and local arts festivals.
The strong backing of a secular audience in north Malabar gave much confidence to Raghavan to pursue his unique style, even when formal recognitions were slow to come. Hindustani musicians were frequently invited for performance at Valapattanam, Pappinissery, Kannur and Thalassery during the boyhood days of Raghavan. A new awareness about the harmony of sounds and rhythms thus got diffused among local music lovers. Raghavan Master was giving a creative rejuvenation for this musical sense through his songs for which P Bhaskaran’s lyrics worked as the most fitting platform. Early playback singers as Kozhikode Abdul Khader, Mehaboob and Janamma David gave unforgettable rendering to Raghavan’s compositions.
‘Engane Nee Marakkum,’ sung by Kozhikode Abdul Khader, ‘Kuyilinethedi’ by Janamma David and ‘Kayalarikathu valayerinjappol’ sung by Raghavan Master himself, all in ‘Neelakkuyil’; ‘Pandu pandu pandu ninne’ and ‘Kathusookshichoru kasthoori mambazham’ in ‘Nairu Pidicha Pulival’ by Mehaboob and ‘Unarunaroo unnipoove’ by S Janaki in ‘Ammaye Kanan’ are some of the all-time hits.
Later he began to experiment rhythms based on traditional Vadakkan pattu in many films and even Christian choir music in songs as ‘Baliyallaa’ in ‘Rebecca’ sung by P B Sreenivas.
Like Baburaj, Raghavan Master also tried to maintain utmost closeness with the real pulse of human experience. Though some of his celebrated songs are based on humorous situations, Raghavan could prove that he was the most efficient in giving tunes to the most tragic moments too.
‘Maanathekayalin’ by Brahmanandan and ‘Karimukilkattile’ by P Jayachandran reflected the tenderness and depth of feelings. But the sense of humour and the rhythm of laughter seen in the lives of urban poor folk got an edge in many of Raghavan’s songs, which among many other features, make them different from those of Baburaj.