Nanjiyamma, a folk singer from Kerala’s Palakkad, was honoured with the Best Playback Singer Award at the 68th National Film Awards last week. In the ceremony held in New Delhi, Nanjiyamma was appreciated for her song, Kalakkatha, in the Malayalam movie Ayyappanum Koshiyum, which was directed by Sachidanandan KR (Sachi).
While sharing her happiness with the media, the 62-year-old awardee said, “It was unexpected. Well, I can go to Delhi for the first time and I can meet our beloved President also.’’ “Sachi was God to me. He encouraged me a lot to sing in a natural way. He took me to fame I never dreamt of.’’
Kalakkatha was originally written in the Irula language. Nanjiyamma wrote this song and Jakes Bejoy composed it. The Kalakkatha was first released on Youtube in 2020 and within a month reached 10 million views. The Kalakkatha was a big hit even before Ayyappanum Koshiyum was released.
In the Sachidanandan KR directorial, Nanjiyamma played the role of the mother-in-law of actor Biju Menon. She dedicated the award to Sachi who died in 2020.
For the unversed, Nanjiyamma is a folk singer and a part of Azad Kala Samithi. This samiti is led by Pazhani Swami, a tribal artist in Attappadi. Nanjiyamma runs her house by farming and feeding cattle. She sings generational folk songs. Folk singer Nanjiyamma has sung for a documentary, Mathrumozhi titled Aggedu Nayaga directed by Sindhu Sajan.
Then she gave her voice to a promotional song sponsored by the Government of Kerala for its housing programs. The program was a massive hit because the first time an Irula language was used for such a program was in Kerala.