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Kerala’s own darling dasettan!
By T.M. Anantharaman
BANGALORE, July 19: Even after nearly five decades since I first heard Yesudos’ “Chakravarti nee”, it still haunts me every time I hear it. Yesudos’s voice had that magnetic quality to hold you spellbound every time you hear it. It is rich, it is bold, it is fluid, it is mellifluous, it is one-in-a-million-melody wrapped in mystical musical chimes, it is in short unique and Kerala’s own darling Dasettan.

You cannot, you must not find fault with Dasettan’s music. If you ever dare to do so as I once did many years ago while reviewing his concert criticising him as “a musician in a hurry”, all hell—well almost all hell, I should say—broke loose. The day the review appeared in the Gulf paper, for which I was working, I got a phone call from a Dasettan devotee, threatening to beat me up black and blue for writing such a review. I suddenly discovered two things. One, Yesudos had fanatical fan following even in faraway places away from God’s own country called Kerala; two; his music holds you spellbound most times or, to put it differently, it rarely disappoints. That I had stirred up a hornet’s nest by critically reviewing Yesudos’s concert is something I have already said in another article and so I won’t dwell on this unsavoury facet.

To talk about Yesudos music is to speak about his attitude to classical music. His motto seems to be: “keep surprising the listener”, and I can say without fear of any contradiction that Yesudos has almost always held up to this credo. He puts in hard labour to present on the concert platform such rare jewels as a “Saranam pugunden tunaiva Vinayaka” in raga Komalangi or “Thaye yen Saraswathi” in raga Nasikabhooshini or “Sree Ganeshath param chitta nahire” in raga Arthradeshi (a Janya raga of Mayamalawagowla) or “Pavana guru pavanapura desamashraye” in raga Hamsanandi or “Dakshinamurthy aadhi guruve” in raga Chakravagham, just to mention a few.

It’s impossible to list favourites from such a gifted artiste but I will venture to say besides these many of his Malayalam and Tamil film songs are extremely popular as are some of the songs he has sung for Hindi films like Chitchor, in particular the song “Jab deep jale aana”, from film Chitchor, music by Ravindra Jain and “Koi gata main so jata” from film Alaap, music by Jaidev.

I first heard Yesudos sing an enchanting Charukesi raga followed by the Thyagaraja kriti “Adamdoi galade” way back in 1970s, and since then, I have heard him in many concerts in India and abroad. Rarely, I must say. he has failed to impress with the utter sincerity or deep devotion that he brings to his art. His “alai payuthe” or “Krishna nee begane baro” or “Hariharashtramam”, or “Vel eduthu vilayadum pillai” in raga Desh or the Malayalam film ragamalika song “Naada bramhattin sagaram” are simply melodiously memorable. Long live the Legend, Dasettan, going by the name of K.J. Yesudas.

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