Renowned poet and lyricist Poovachal Khader’s demise is an irrevocable loss to the Malayalam cinema industry and to the literary world too. The songs that were born out of Khader’s magical pen have truly gained iconic status. They are still enjoyed for their spectacular lines that ooze the pangs of sweet love, loss and despair. The song ‘Natha Nee Varum Kalocha Kelkuvan’ from the movie Chamaram wonderfully depicts a lover’s yearning for the beloved. In the 1990’s, this beautiful song had inevitably become the love anthem of the youngsters. The universal theme of the song makes its evergreen and relevant even during the modern times.
Noted poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar and his wife Sushama had gone through a difficult phase during their courtship days when they couldn’t meet each other that often. The lovers had then expressed their love and admiration through letters that were filled with passionate words. This song came at the right moment, aptly depicting the pain and desperation of the young lovers.
It was in the beginning of 1980’s that young poet Kureepuzha Sreekumar had published a poem titled Athmahatyamunanbu. A few days after the poem was published, the poet received a letter from a girl, Sushama, appreciating the work. It didn’t take too long for Sreekumar to write a reply to his ‘special’ admirer. Soon, their friendship blossomed through letters. She filled her letters with the mesmerizing lines of the legendary Romantic poets Shelley and Keats. Meanwhile, he opened up about his new poems and his creative inspiration.
Though it was common for poets to receive letters from their admirers as there weren’t many other means of communication, Sreekumar felt a special liking for Sushama. He began eagerly waiting for her letters. Sreekumar felt her letters expressed not just admiration for his poems but pure love for him too. However, he wasn’t sure and his mind was on fire, longing to find out whether Sushama really had feelings for him.
Sushama was teaching at an ITC in Mararithottam in Kollam at that time. She stayed as a paying guest at a house in Mararithottam along with a few female colleagues. Meanwhile, Sreekumar’s friends did some good ‘detective’ work to find out that strangers, especially men weren’t allowed inside this house. However, Sreekumar was determined to meet Sushama.
He knew that Sushama was a great singer. So, his friends came up with a brilliant idea. He ‘courageously’ went to the house where she stayed, carrying a tape recorder. The poet was accompanied by a friend too. They lied that they were the proprietors of a nearby drama troupe who had come to ask whether Sushama would sing for their play. They said that they had come to record a song in her voice to do the sound test. It worked and Sreekumar and his friend were welcomed into the house. Sushama instantly realized that the man from the drama troupe was actually her beloved. But, she couldn’t say anything as they were surrounded by her friends.
They spoke a little bit and the poet switched on the tape recorder. Sushama, who was seeing Sreekumar for the first time, was longing to open up her heart. But she was smart and was determined to reveal her heart’s desire to the man she loves. She didn’t think twice to sing ‘Natha Nee Varum Kalocha Kelkuvan’ which perfectly expressed her wishes.
Sreekumar sighed in relief as he got the answer that he was looking for. He was overwhelmed with joy and love inside. However, without showing any excitement, the ‘proprietors’ of the drama troupe recorded the song and left. Their love overcame the apprehensions of their families and the duo had tied the knot.
“Natha Nee Varum was the super hit song during that time. I was young and felt admiration and love for him whenever I heard that song. I didn’t have anything else, other than the beautiful lines of this song, to say to him when I saw him for the first time. Later, we had listened to this song together, umpteen times. I would instantly become that young girl when I listen to this song even now,” recalls Sushama Sreekumar.
“I cannot express my love and gratitude to Poovachal Khader who wrote that song and MG Radhakrishnan who had composed it. I have told this story to them too. They were happy to know that one of their creations had such significance in my life,” says Kureepuzha Sreekumar.
The mellifluous voice of S Janaki had indeed given a unique charm to the song from the movie Chamaram which was released in 1980. The movie which portrayed a revolutionary love story between a teacher and her student had become a talking point during those days.
This song is often touted as one of the best songs written by Poovachal Khader. The unique plot by Balakrishnan Mangad, the spectacular dialogues by John Paul and the amazing performances of Zareena Wahab and Prathap Pothen were some of the highlights of the blockbuster movie that was helmed by legendary film maker Bharathan. The movie was shot in the beautiful campus of CMS College.
Like Sushama and Sreekumar, hundreds of lovers still sing this delightful song which celebrates pure love in the most fabulous way.
Poovachal Khader passed away on Monday night in Thiruvananthapuram. Khader, who was under treatment for COVID-19, was 72.