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Pages from a music score of silent melodies.

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

Consonance and dissonance

Thunderbirds Babu

Thunderbirds Babu is the brains and brawn of the first Popular music troupe, rather Ganamela troupe in Trivandrum. He named it Thunderbirds, and hence he came to be known as Thunderbirds Babu. His name is familiar to most senior musicians in Kerala. He preferred to render the old Hindi melodies of Kishore Kumar, Muhammed Rafi, Mukesh, Manna Dey and Saigal. But, more than his singing abilities, his acuity in introducing ingenious ideas and his efforts to implement them is what I admired the most.

It's a fact that most musicians are tender-hearted and Babuchettan, as I called him, is no exception. Despite being a humble, loving, poor soul, many people despised him for unknown reasons. I realize that he lived at least 25 years ahead of his generation. Those jealous of him taunted him openly and in hiding. He often got blamed for others' mistakes, and the gentleman turned out a reprobate to many people who had only heard about him. Though I found him cheerful and lively, I have noticed that he often appeared lost in thoughts. I suspected his 'hyperactivity' to be his way of dealing with some problem or difficulties that occupied his mind, which probably kept bothering him.

I met him when he formed 'The Rubbish Orchestra'. Rubbish is the name suggested by the great Indian sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman when we approached him seeking a name suggestion for a music troupe that sings Indian language songs and plays Western instrumental music. Without a second thought, he quipped, " Rubbish", and it got stuck. Being active and dynamic, Babuchettan had the knack to approach the right people the right way, so there was no shortage of programs.

I was one of the two tenderfoots in the team, and I met most of the senior artists of those days through Rubbish Orchestra. Being very elder to me, probably my father's age, he considered me a child and yet regarded me like all the other artists. Still, I have noticed that he was a bit careful and seldom reserved when communicating with me.