Story of a lost journalist

August 19, 2011

Johnson Master

Filed under: Diary,Personal — Cris @ 12:02

“I am Cris, Sir.”

“So the girl with you must be Pris (pointing to Anthrappan),” he joked. We laughed. I got his phone number to do an interview. When I called him later, he was coughing. “I am not so well today, call me tomorrow can you?”

But I didn’t call. And I never got to interview Johnson Master.

Anthrappan called me last night and told me in a breaking voice, “Johnson Master’s gone”. The first thought that crossed my mind was how will Amma take this? Even last day she was going on about how Johnson’s music with its ‘naadan shaili’ and Salil Choudhary’s remain her favourite. I was at the time excited about interviewing another all-time favourite Jerry Amaldev. Johnson Master is the next I’d interview, I decided. He was only 58, I had no clue life would so cruelly depart from one of the most melodious men so soon :-(.

It is not his songs that first endeared him to me. It is the background score of Thoovanathumbikal that Nish taught me and the two of us used to hum for hours. Lalala lalala… and then Namakku Paarkam Munthirithoppukal had an equally striking background score. It must be two strips of music I have most listened to in my MP3 Player.

But then eventually many songs I fell in love with was by Johnson Master.

Etho janmakalpanayil….
Swapnam verumoru swapnam….
Priyatharamaakum oru naadham…
Aadi vaa katte…
Kannukalil pooviriyum…
Anuragini…   Ariyathe…..
Neram mangiya neram….
Kunnimanicheppu thurannenni nokkum neram…
Devangangal…. (somehow when I start singing this I end up in Anuragini… same ragam?)
Maanathe vellitheril…
Enthe kannanithra karuppu niram…
Oru naal shubarathri…

Too many… wanted to write a tribute to him. But I am not sure how to do that. Really sad he stayed away from Malayalam music for long. We lost so many good songs. And so many more to have come. Will miss you lots Johnson Master.



  1. Sure, each of his songs had remarkable freshness and purity about them.He was the most successful of the church trio(the others being Jerry amaldev & Ouseppachan). You could see lot of similarities between the music of these three musicians(each having started their musical career with church choirs),each being successful at churning out slow, soft melodies. Johnson’s songs were also so much full of ‘malayalitham’.

    His back ground scores for Manichitrathazhu and Sukrutham were also impressive.

    In addition to the ones, you have mentioned, I have a few more favorites, in no particular order.

    1. Pin nilavo chandanamo – Pingami
    2. Suryamsu etho – Pakshe
    3. Manjadi mani – Aadharam
    4. Vaidooryakammalaninju – Ee puzhayum kadannu
    5. Karutha ravinte – Narendran makan
    6. Mounathin – Malooty
    7. Melle melle – Oru Minnaminunginte Nurunguvettam
    8. Kanneer poovinte – Kireedam
    9. Mandaracheppundo – Dasaratham
    10.Syamambaram- Artham


    Comment by Biju Kadeekkal — August 19, 2011 @ 20:33 | Reply

    • @Biju: Most of what you have mentioned are my favourites too – pingami, pakshe, vaidoorya kammal, etc… We could never complete the list, could we?

      Comment by Cris — August 30, 2011 @ 15:53 | Reply

  2. Another good song by Jhonson mash..”Ente Manveenayil Koodanayaanoru”..i didn’t see it mentioned here..thats why am posting it..Hope u like this also..may be u forgot to mention it..

    u can watch it on youtube..

    Comment by Rinju — August 22, 2011 @ 23:54 | Reply

    • @Rinju: This is a new one to me. Thank you 🙂

      Comment by Cris — August 30, 2011 @ 15:51 | Reply

  3. Johnson was my favorite too. His melodies are unmatched. He had a few favorite ragams – like Hindolam, Madhyamavathi, Kalyani etc which he used extensively while composing. Directors like Bharathan, Padmarajan and Sathyan Anthikadu brought the best out of him. Thoovanathumbikal’s highlight is the background score.

    Another genius called too soon by flames afar. He will be missed!

    Comment by Anand — August 24, 2011 @ 06:59 | Reply

    • @Anand: so true. Yes Thoovanathumbikal background score was simply the best. He will be missed much too much, along with the directors who believed in his talent…

      Comment by Cris — August 30, 2011 @ 15:50 | Reply

  4. Raaja Hamsamey (Chamayam) was one of my most favourite (haunting?) songs.

    Comment by oneirodynic — August 26, 2011 @ 00:56 | Reply

    • @oneirodynic: it used to be mine too, but somehow lost the charm soon.

      Comment by Cris — August 30, 2011 @ 15:34 | Reply

  5. Johnson master was amazing . I love his songs . He will live forever .

    Comment by Nishant — August 30, 2011 @ 13:06 | Reply

    • @Nishant, yes through his songs.

      Comment by Cris — August 30, 2011 @ 15:28 | Reply

  6. He still lives amoung us through his songs I like to believe so..

    Comment by Javed Miandad — December 23, 2011 @ 08:08 | Reply

  7. His bgm(especially during the climax) for thazhvaram is one of the best I`ve ever heard(I would `ve given him an oscar).A really haunting piece of work.Then as you mentioned thoovanamthumbikal and NPMT.I also love the song “ponnurukki” from ponmutta idunna tharavu.
    LOST for ever.

    Comment by Aswin (achu) — July 26, 2012 @ 16:00 | Reply

  8. What about the background score in Aparan and Sadayam ?
    Most haunting BGM I ever heard

    Comment by Prasanth — November 30, 2012 @ 12:38 | Reply

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