During my college days (1986 - 90), I had a friend named Dr. Hariharan, who had just then returned after completing his BAMS degree, an ayurvedic medical course from Kerala.
His family was originally from Palakkad, the border town between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The people from the area spoke Tamil with an heavy accent of Malayalam and Malayalam with an equally heavy accent of Tamil, leading at times to a heady confusion to listeners as to what language they are being conversed with. Hari, was no different and as one could witness, the best of both these intertwined cultures, existed amicably in their lifestyle.
We shared a lot of common interests - music, poetry, photography and aspired to explore the possibilities of being a creator in all these, all the time. He used to share with me the best songs of Malayalam films - KJ Yesudoss, MG Srikumar, Hariharan (then a budding Ghazal singer - not into the films) and I introduced him to the nuances of Ilaiyaraja's mesmerising compositions.
It is during this period, I once came across a bajan-like film song on Lord Rama, rendered by K J Yesudoss with the opening line, 'Janaki Jaane'. Luckily that day, now I could recall, there were none in his house, where we were chatting one evening discussing music and it is in his good audio system that this casette was playing.
The setting was perfect; it was a pleasant sunset, cool breeze winding through the well-lit spacious living room and the song was mellifluously oozing and pervading the room.
Engrossed in our discussions, I was slowly taken over by the reverberating voice of Yesudoss. The voice! It occupied my mind and before the song could enter the stanzas or charanam, as it is called, and reach its crescendo, I was totally taken aback by the beauty of the composition and the selfless spiritual rendering of Yesudoss.
I am not sure whether the entire intricacy and beauty of the song sank into me then, but I am equally convinced that the song remained etched in my memories, stayed dormant for more than decades and surfaced when it had to.
Yesterday, as I was searching for a famous long forgotten old number of K J Yesudoss, I suddenly remembered this Rama bhajan, searched and found it in Youtube. As I played and started to listen for the first time after almost 22 years, I lost my entire spatial interaction and was taken into the soul of the song almost immediately.
Tears kept rolling all through the song and neither could I open my eyes.
Yesudoss' mastery and perfection in rendition can never be questioned. His quivering voice and his utter surrender and devotion to Lord Rama is expressed in unparalleled fashion in Janaki Jane. Without an absolute and unquestioned surrender to the Lord Supreme, whichever religion it may be, creativity of that sort from an accomplised, highly self-esteemed creator is impossible, I felt and believed.
It was as though I could vividly remember all the verses, instantaneously transporting me into a realm of nostaligic quagmire.
I remained silent for few minutes after the song ended and kept listening to it a number of times as if I was afraid that I might lose it back for decades...
When the logical and argumentative part of my senses regained, I searched and found that it was song from film called, "Dhavani" (Tone), a Malayalam film. Interestingly, the hindu devotional song on Lord Rama in Sanskrit, was penned by Yusuf Ali Kecheri, a Muslim lyricist and the music was composed by the legendary film composer, Noushad, a Muslim too! K J Yesudoss, a Chrisitian by birth, had transformed his soul into this evergreen bhajan! What a combination!
Is he not the Gaana Ghandarvan!
Now, dissolve into this endless ocean of devotion as Jesudoss navigates one through his voice...