Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Contemporary light music

The most popular branch of music in Malayalam is Light Music. Songs form an integral part of the ordinary Malayali’s aesthetics. Just like the beauty in a dew drop, song reflects the graceful life. In the enjoyment of light music there are no barriers or divisions between the scholar and the layman. Light music captures the hearts of all alike. We have a rich tradition of music. All our classic – folk arts are deeply interconnected with music.

Drama and film songs are much ahead in terms of popularity. The light music emanating from Akashavani has a place of its own. The basic aim of any music is to rouse the tala consciousness of the masses. The Malayalis are always fond of listening to light music which strikes a chord with their hearts. And that purpose is served well by drama and film songs which have flourished over a period of time. The ordinary Malayali finds solace in such songs that portray his/her love, despair, frustration, sorrow and happiness. The song is used to give expression to their thoughts and philosophy.

Malayalam has a rich tradition of folk songs. It is from these folk songs that the first drama songs were born. The folk music has influenced film songs to a large extent. In the beginning, the Malayalam film songs were a replica of Tamil and Hindi songs. The tunes were also the same. Such borrowing from other languages only limited the scope and growth of Malayalam drama – film songs.

Generations began to revere the songs of poets of lyricists like Abhaya Dev, P. Bhaskaran, Vayalar Ramavarma, O. N. V. etc. These poets gave a poetic dimension to Malayalam film songs. They had the backing of master composers and music directors like G. Devarajan, K. Raghavan, V. Dakshina Moorthy, M. S. Baburaj etc. The poets and the composers together created a sort of renaissance in Malayalam film music. Even classic and folk music were beautifully mixed with film music. What later followed was an influence of music from across the world.

In the case of drama and plays, a marked change can be noticed. The dramas staged in the 1950s and 1960s received much appreciation from the public for it contained memorable songs. With the advent of KPAC, folk tunes and Dravidian styles were incorporated into drama. The actor would sing the song. That was a style in those days. The audience would watch in rapt attention.
Though made for particular situation, the film song always had an independent existence. The film songs depicted different moods and captured the beauties of nature, and also spoke of great philosophies. There have been a lot of reviews and research into the more than 75-year old film music history. Studies brought out show the maturity the film music has achieved over the decades.

To the Malayali, songs are an ever haunting melody. It has all the richness of Kerala life. A source of inspiration, and at the same time imparts nostalgia, leading to large-heartedness and kindness.

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