I still remember listening to the song “ಹತ್ತು ವರುಷದ ಹಿಂದೆ” (hattu varuShada hinde) decades ago, when I was in my elementary school. This is a bhAvagIte written by K.S.Narasimhaswamy. If I recall correctly, the AIR version was sung by Jayavanti Devi. Or it might have been H.R.Leelavati. I forget. My mother used to sing this song very well too. Even though she was partial towards singing classically tuned bhAvageethes, she sometimes sang songs falling into sugama sangeta genre too, and this was one of them. I came to learn about the book called “Maisooru mallige” by K S Narasimhaswamy from her.

When the cassette revolution started in the early 80’s, it gave a new life for kannaDa  sugama sangeetha, C Ashwath’s album Maisooru Mallige became one of my favorites. I believe this is one of the most highly successful albums in kannada sugama sangeetha, along with the likes of Nityotsava (ನಿತ್ಯೋತ್ಸವ) and Bhava sangama (ಭಾವಸಂಗಮ). In my opinion Ashwath was in his best during this time.

If you have not listened to this collection, then you must 🙂

Songs from C Ashwath’s maisooru mallige

This online link does not have the song ತೌರ ಸುಖದೊಳಗೆನ್ನ (Toura sukhadoLagenna). Based on Sindhu bhairavi rAga, and sung very nicely by Ratnamala Prakash, (daughter of nonegerian musician Sri R K Srikanthan) I consider that one as the best song in the collection. Very apt music for the lyrics.

Sometime later, probably in mid 1990s a movie was made based on the poems of maisooru mallige. This may have been the first time a story was written with the framework provided by the songs. The movie went on to become commercially successful too. Nagabharana directed the movie. The songs were OK, but in my opinion they were definitely paler, because of choosing mainstream singers like SPB, and S Janaki instead of the original singers from the album for some of the songs. Many songs from the album were in the movie, and some other songs were introduced too.

Last year, during an interview on Udaya TV Nagini Bharana, wife of the director Nagabharana choose one of the songs from the movie Maisooru mallige- this was not part of the original Maisooru mallige album – ದೀಪವು ನಿನ್ನದೆ, ಗಾಳಿಯು ನಿನ್ನದೆ (dIpavu ninnade, gALiyu ninnade) as her favourite song among the songs of all the movies directed by her husband.  This was when I rellay noticed this song. The picturization is wonderful. Just taken with the light of a ದೀಪ, it provides a very nice imagery of the lyrics.

Here is the text of the song:

ದೀಪವು ನಿನ್ನದೆ ಗಾಳಿಯು ನಿನ್ನದೆ ಆರದಿರಲಿ ಬೆಳಕು
ಕಡಲು ನಿನ್ನದೆ ಹಡಗು ನಿನ್ನದೆ, ಮುಳುಗದಿರಲಿ ಬದುಕು

ಬೆಟ್ಟವು ನಿನ್ನದೆ, ಬಯಲು ನಿನ್ನದೆ, ಹಬ್ಬಿ ನಗಲಿ ಪ್ರೀತಿ
ನೆಳಲೋ ಬಿಸಿಲೋ ಎಲ್ಲವೂ ನಿನ್ನದೆ ಇರಲಿ ಏಕರೀತಿ

ಆಗೂಂದು ಸಿಡಿಲು, ಈಗೊಂದು ಮುಗಿಲು ನಿನಗೆ ಅಲಂಕಾರ
ಅಲ್ಲೊಂದು ಹಕ್ಕಿ, ಇಲ್ಲೊಂದು ಮುಗುಳು, ನಿನಗೆ ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ

ಅಲ್ಲಿ ರಣದುಂದುಭಿ, ಇಲ್ಲೊಂದು ವೀಣೆ, ನಿನ್ನ ಪ್ರತಿಧ್ವನಿ
ಆ ಮಹಾಕಾವ್ಯ, ಈ ಭಾವಗೀತೆ ನಿನ್ನ ಪದಧ್ವನಿ

You can listen to the song here:

ದೀಪವು ನಿನ್ನದೆ – Listen here

Or here is an alternate link, if the above does not work:

dIpavu ninnade – On Music India Online

In the  first link above, there is the filmi version sung by S Janaki, and another, more elaborate version sung by Ratnamala Prakash on a stage show – The background music is much better in the stage show version. You can hear the flautist creating magic here!

For those of you who may not understand kannDa, here is a gist of the poem:

The candle is yours;
The wind, yours too;
Don’t blow out the light.
The ocean is yours;
The ship is yours too;
Pray, don’t wreck it.

The hills are yours;
The plains are yours.
Let love blossom everywhere!
The sunny days are yours;
The cloudy days are yours.
Measure them alike.

The great thunder,
The dark clouds
Dress you up in the sky!
The chirping birds,
The smiling faces
All salute thee.

Pounding War Drums
The gentle-sounding lutes
They are both your echo.
The great epic poems
This simple song
They are all your words.

The ocean is yours;
The ship, yours too;
Pray, don’t wreck it.
The candle is yours;
The wind is yours;
Don’t blow out the light.

This song was used in the movie “Maisoora Mallige” – Watch it here.

Now coming to my favorite part 🙂 This song is based on a rAga from Indian classical music. In karnATaka sangIta, this rAga  is called bhOgavasanta (ಭೋಗವಸಂತ). It is not a very popular or well known rAga. This may be because it treads the territory of other well-known rAgas such as kAmavardhini. In fact, there were no formal compositions in this rAga until Jayachamaraja Odeyar, the last king of Maisooru,  composed a kriti sometime during the 1940s.

You can listen to this kriti, in the voice of M S Sheela. This is a recording from a program on Jayachamarajendra Odeyar’s compositions on All India Radio.

Before singing the song, she describes the notes that are used in this melody. This is a shADava rAga, meaning a rAga that uses six of the seven notes.

M.S.Sheela sings amba srI rAja rAjEshwari

You may have noticed that ambA ShrI and dIpavu ninnadu seem very different, even though  I say they are basically the same melody. That is because the song dIpavu ninnade, takes more from the form in the hindUstAni counterpart of this melody.

In hindustAni music, this rAga called din-ki-pooriya. The name suggests it is a rAga to be sung during daylight hours, and is a relative of rAga pooriya. Although not very well known,  din-ki-pooriya stands much better off than bhOgavasanta in terms of the number of recordings available. Pandit Jasraj and his shishyas like Sanjeev have popularised this rAga quite a bit.

Here you can listen to a very nice rendition of rAga din-ki-pooria from Sandeep Ranade, an exponent of mEwAti  gharAna. See if you can spot elements of the song dIpavu ninnade in here.

Sandeep Ranade sings din-ki-pooriya

This din-ki-pooriya recording is part of a rAga mAlika begins with din-ki-pooria and then moves on to lalit, and  then toother rAgas, each time differing by one-note-hamming distance.  I highly recommend you to listen to the entire recording 🙂  of Sandeep Ranade’s raga-morphing rAgamAlike here:


There  are many more such wonderful recordings for music lovers available on the artists website (www.sandeepranade.com).

As I was writing the lines from deepavu ninnade, I remembered two other haridasa compositions. But let me blabber about that some other time!

Happy listening.