First there was the radio, a big brown and gold one that was given pride of place atop the ‘showcase’ which held the good ‘curios,’ a bunch of LP records and my sister’s old notebooks filled with pages and pages of songs in her neat rounded handwriting. And then there was the voice which raised all those inanimate objects to something shining with life, shimmering with sheer magic or should I say glowing with divinity?
I don’t remember when it was that I first heard his name, but I am pretty sure that was the first name I learnt to associate with music and still is the first name that to me is synonymous with music. Long before I learnt to appreciate the nuances of music or learnt to understand the depth of the meaning of the lyrics, I learnt to like his songs.
And what was to me just a voice I heard on the radio or through the LP record, became much more of a reality thanks to a phone call. It was back when he was starting up his own recording studio and was conducting ganamelas in association with it. He was organising his next programme in Trivandrum and wanted to hire chairs from our business concern.
Over the years I have fallen in love again and again with his songs and I do not even want to get into a futile effort of trying to describe his mastery over ragas or the rich timbre of his voice. I leave it to the experts. But even they I doubt can do justice to him. I still do not know how to appreciate the technical aspects of music or even understand them. Simply because I do not listen to music with my head. It is my heart and my soul which responds to music and I never cease to marvel at how he conveys so much emotion in his voice.
What amazes me more than anything else is the way he enunciates each word. I do not think anyone can beat his beauty of diction. That is why even when he talks it sounds like music to my ears. I feel that a word attains Nirvana when it falls as a song from the mouth of Dasettan. Because that is when it blossoms into the entirety of its richness and fulfills the purpose of why it was born. That is the way that word was meant to be pronounced and that is the emotion the word is meant to convey.I have always thought about how happy a lyricist must feel to hear his words sung by Dasettan because only he could do justice to the poet’s imagination and ignite in the listener’s heart an idea of what the words actually mean. When you hear Dasettan sing a song, you know the emotion a word is supposed to convey. And to a person like me to whom the lyrics mean much more than the music, that golden voice simply plays havoc with my very being.
He makes the words richer, more beautiful and you can imbibe it not just through your ears, but through every sense of yours. Just think about it. The silk scarf feels more silken and kalabham feels much cooler; the blue moon appears more radiant and the blush spreads ruddier on the cheeks; sugar becomes sweeter and the tears of lost love more bitter; the thazhampoo laden breeze is more fragrant and jasmines smell more sweeter; and music of course falls sweeter than honey in your ears and the gentle fall of dusk sounds mellower than a serene ocean.
His voice has the power to sweeten vayambu as much as honey and transform the pimple on a beloved’s cheek into the fragrant kasturi, make the touch of a tongue of flame feel akin tothe cooling touch of a loved one’s hand and convert silence into eloquent poetry.And going beyond the senses, he can make the navarasas come alive with the merry waltz his vocal chords do in his throat. And as for the effect it all has one your soul… I don’t even know what to say. I suspect even Earth stops midspin to listen when our Gana Gandharvan sings ‘Harivaraasanam.’
It is sad to think that he who has almost been like a sacred cow, the only icon any Malayali devoutly chose to never criticize has lately been facing a bunch of negative remarks and comments. Forget it for now and celebrate this day which marks 50 golden years of that voice of pure molten gold and think of the hours of joy he has given you and the moments when his voice gave utterance to the words your heart struggled to vocalize. For the thousands of times that he gave voice to your emotions and made you weep with sorrow or cry in joy; aroused your senses and soothed your hurts… for all those moments… Let us remember that he still is every Malayali’s personal pride –swakarya ahankaaram like we would say and thank him for what he has given us.
And let me conclude in his own voice,
“Ee manohara theerathu tharumo
Iniyoru janmam koodi
Enikkiniyoru janmam koodi…”
Just so that I can listen to what liquid gold sounds like once again.