Old Malayalam songs in New Movies

Is Reviving Old Songs in New Movies Becoming a Trend in Malayalam?

Every other reel, post, or story on social media is filled with the hit Ilayaraja song ‘Kanmani Anbodu’, thanks to its perfect rendition in the Malayalam movie Manjummel Boys. Chidambaram’s directorial Manjummel Boys isn’t the first Malayalam movie to repurpose an old hit song, but it sure is one of the movies where this repurposed song forms the crux of the story. You are not just humming to the tunes, but feel ecstatic as the significance and beauty of the song amplifies the film’s climax.

The movie is about a bunch of friends who go through one hell of an adventure as they go to explore the Guna Caves, where the movie Guna was shot. The song Kanmani Anbodu is from the same movie, thus adding relevance to the plot of Manjummel Boys.

This is not the first time Chidambaram has repurposed an old song that is story-appropriate for his movie. In his directorial debut, Jan. E. Man, the lead character Joymon (played by Basil Joseph) is isolated in the unforgiving snow in Canada. He is all alone, with no one to talk to. And interestingly the song that plays when he walks to his work by himself is ‘Manjil Virinja Poove‘, from the movie Manjil Virinja Pookal, released in 1980.

The song is about a flower blooming in the snow, and by using the song in his movie, he makes it into a metaphor for Joymon, reflecting on his resilience as he drags himself through the soul-crushing chilly climate. It is a delight to watch the scene and the song complements it so well, like a cozy blanket on a cold winter’s night. It will instantly bring a smile to your face.

At this point, it is interesting to note how placing an old song in a new film is becoming a trend in Malayalam movies and everybody seems to be enjoying it to their fullest. Premalu, another Malayalam movie that was released two weeks before Manjummel Boys, also placed an old song in one of its sequences. ‘Ya ya ya Yadava‘, a rendition of the song from Sridevi starrer Devaragam (1996), has taken the internet by storm, thanks to the humorous choreography of the entire sequence.

While Kanmani Anbodu has had an explosive effect with Manjummel Boys, it was also used in Alphonse Puthren’s magnum opus, Premam, but here it was a fun, soothing rendition where a group of friends basked in the beauty of the song.

Along similar lines was the rendition of the popular Malayalam song from Nokkatha Doorathu Kannumnattu (1980), ‘Ayiram Kannumayi‘ in Vineeth Sreenivasan’s Thattathin Marayathu. Again, the placement is just to create a sense of nostalgia and remind us of some beautiful old songs, that, ironically, will never grow old.

In all these situations, whenever an old song was reused in a movie, it has been an instant hit. It’s a winning formula that has never gone wrong, at least till now. It goes without saying that the placement of these old songs is a huge crowd-puller and above all, pivotal in the popularity that the movies gain. And the reason for that is undoubtedly because of the love people have for these songs which are a cherished reminder of our beautiful past. Our entire existence is about memories, nostalgia, and emotions, and these songs bring them rushing back to us.

 But how long will this trend work for Malayalam cinema? Will there be a point where the audience gets bored of it? I would like to believe that the answer to this boils down to how well the filmmakers add it to their storytelling structure. The moment it starts to feel like a gimmick, they will, without a doubt, lose their audience.

As long as filmmakers keep using these classic songs in a way that feels natural and meaningful to the story, the tradition will probably stick around, keeping audiences connected to the past through music.

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