Balikudeerangale, Malayalam’s Most Famous Revolutionary Song, Turns 60
August 17, 2017
The 60th anniversary celebration of the first performance of ‘Balikudeerangale’ (“O Martyrs’ Columns”), was held on Monday at Kottayam, the town where it was written. Prominent poets, writers, artists and political leaders graced the occasion. The popularity of this revolutionary song still endures in every Malayali.
The song was written in 1957 on the occasion of the inauguration of a martyrs' column at Palayam in Thiruvananthapuram. A Communist Party-led ministry had been elected in Kerala that year.
1957 marked the one hundredth anniversary of India's first war of independence, and the martyrs' column had been constructed in memory of the martyrs of the War. ‘Balikudeerangale’ was written on the occasion of the inauguration of the martyrs’ column.The song was written by the legendary poet and lyricist Vayalar Ramavarma and was composed by the equally illustrious musician G. Devarajan. Later, the Vayalar – Devarajan duo went on to become the most famous lyricist-composer team in the history of Malayalam cinema.
The song was written and composed in a period of three days i.e. from 11 to 13 August 1957 after the request by Baby, the Convenor of Kottayam Theatres, the drama troupe of the Communist Party’s Kottayam District Committee.
The martyrs’ column at Thiruvananthapuram was inaugurated by Dr.Rajendra Prasad, the President of India on Independence Day eve, on 14 August 1957. The first performance of the song was held as part of the programme at the Victoria Jubilee memorial Town (VJT) Hall. Fifty singers including KS George and KPAC Sulochana – stalwarts of the Kerala People’s Arts Club (KPAC), associated with the Communist Party – performed the song. Advocate G Janardana Kurup, early communist leader, and Jose Prakash, who went on to act as the “villain” in many popular Malayalam films, were also among the singers.
The song is translated as:
O martyrs' columns, war memorials where memories roar,
Here the masses of people adorn you with
the red garlands of inspiring struggles
Snow-capped mountains raised flags, oceans roared
In the Ganga where epochs swim, lotuses bloom
India rose up from the maps, human lives broke open shackles,
With heroic tales on the lips, and holding bouquets of flowers,
the new citizen was awake.
O martyrs' columns,
In you, throb the hearts that wrote the history of centuries
In every generation, you lit up lamps that will never fade
Wearing the armour that you wore at your battlefields,
We, in the land of the hills, won our red flag.
Published first in Newsclick.
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