From Sankarabharanam to Sarvam Thalamayam, a musical journey


Cinema and music are something that are inseparable and are eternally intertwined. With each film, we get to hear great music or soundtracks but have you ever thought about how it will be when the plot of a movie rests on music. This is not at all unprecedented for we have seen movies based on music, especially the classical genre. The recently released Rajeev Menon film 'Sarvam Thalamayam' is the latest in the line.

Today, we have a list of movies which are based on classic music and aspiring musicians:

Sarvam Thalamayam - when caste strikes a jarring note

The poster featuring actor GV Prakash dancing with a mridangam in hand conveys that this 2019 movie is more or less based on a percussion artiste. Son of a mrindagam-maker, Peter meets Palakkad Vembu Iyer (Nedumudi Venu) and decides to learn playing the instrument. But here, caste plays a major role as Peter is from a Christian dalit family and his guru is a Brahman. To learn music Peter has to overcome social and religious barriers. Ironically, the music for the film is composed by a Muslim, the mastero AR Rahman.

Swathi Kiranam - when ego drowns talent

The 1992 film is about an egotistical music teacher envious of his prodigious young disciple. The ego takes him to such a level that the talented protege is forced to take his own life. This, eventually leads to the downfall of the ace musician. The best part of the movie is when it reaches its climax. A young girl is shown chiding the master and gently prodding him to improvise singing a basic note. This message conveyed is that to master an art one needs to accept mistakes and be grounded.

Bharatham - when music gets its due

The 1991 Malayalam movie is about two brothers and their inheritance of a rich music legacy. Raman is a good singer but his drinking habit is a spoiler. At a concert, Raman fails to sing soon after taking a few shots of alcohol and his brother Gopi takes his place. This hurts the morale of the senior singer to such an extent that he is desperate to get rid of the alcoholism and he sets on a pilgrimage but never returns. The movie ends with Gopi teaching music to Raman's son. The movie is set in a Brahmin family of classical musicians where one generation carries on the musical legacy of the preceding generation, and if a son fails in this, the right one emerges.

Swathi Thirunal - when music is life

This 1987 film plays the epic song 'Omanathinkal.kidavo...' right from scenes on birth to death and it sums up what music was for Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma (1813-46), the Maharaja of Travancore. It is a biographical account of the monarch with focus on the role of music and dance in his life. Even before his death, his only request was to sing all the ragas (musical modes) at temple during Navaratri. Filmmaker Lenin Rajendran brought out the best from singers including legends M. Balamuralikrishna, K J Yesudas and S Janaki.

Sankarabharanam - when music is safe in the right hands

This 1980 movie was a blockbuster solely on account of music. The film showcases how classical music was declining as the western pop genre became trendy in the country . Sankara Sastri, the musical legend in the film, even explains that the 7 notes of music are universal and all its genres deserve to be respected. The movie begins with a shloka pointing how music can be enjoyed alike by babies, animals and even snakes and ends with a scene suggesting that music needs to be passed on to the rightful hands. 

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