Thoughts,opinions and musings of a restless nomad

Ormakkayi – Kozhikode Abdul Khader

March 07, 2008 Posted by Maddy , 21 comments
Actually I was humming the Yesudas song ‘Pachapanam thatte’ and my mother in law who is visiting us said, can you add that to the CD you are making for me? At that time, I did not know this was originally a drama song done by Abdul Khader for Baburaj many decades ago nor did I know of the debate in Kerala over whether M Jayachandran should be taken to task for copying it in Nottam, a new movie!! M Jaychandran’s statement that it had nothing to do with Khader or Baburaj and their offspring’s furious involvement in the debate led to a furore in Kozhikode, a year back.

But, yes, I had heard his fabulous ‘Engine nee marakkum kuyile’ from Neelakuyil many a time, I had also heard many other Khader memorable’s in a cassette of his songs, sung by his late son Satyajit. My brother has been trying to locate the originals for ages and recently when I heard ‘Engine nee’ again, I was intrigued. I knew that Khader was around with Baburaj, when Baburaj was also doing music with Mehamood, but it was always mentioned in Calicut circles that music programs by Babukka and Abdul Khader were the most eagerly awaited ones…Khader was known in Calicut as the Malabar Saigal and Calicut was a place where people understood Hindustani classical, Ghazals and followed Hindi music always. Almost all the Hindi greats of yesteryears have sung in Calicut e.g. Mannadey, Kishore, Rafi…

Having said all that, I found this picture (Wikipedia) of Khader with Baburaj & Mukesh - pretty interesting. Mukesh if you recall was also a great fan of Saigal and sung in the Saigal style initially.

And I remembered a fellow blogger who once mentioned that he was not too happy about foreign singers in the Indian music scene(Abhijeet & Jagjit singh also commented so)…probably talking about Adnan Sami and other Paki singers like Faakhir, Atif Aslam, Rahet Fateh Ali Khan etc…Probably he should start looking at this situation in the 50’s. Baburaj was actually a Bengali, Abdul Khader was had returned from Burma and Mehaboob sometimes spoke Urdu at home. They all worked in Malayalam movies and provided memorable hits, which we enjoy even today – So music really has no language or barriers (AR Rahman by the way, son of RK Shekar who directed music in Malayalam, disagrees, he finds Malayalam unwieldy for music compositions!)…

Kozhikode Abdul Khader (the hyperlink gives all the available bio) was an enigma – Born Leslie Andrews, a Christian, he converted while at Burma and renamed himself Abdul Khader. His first marriage with Achuma produced five children and he was later was in a relationship with - Shanta Devi and they had a son, Satyajit (Najmal Babu also a singer in his own right was his son from his first wife). We all still see Shanta Devi as a mother in many movies, a fine artiste and a national award winner. She says “It was my husband Abdul Khader who encouraged me to take up a career in films; he was the inspiration for me in theatre too. He gave me the courage to act at a time when women hesitated to appear on stage.”

Abdul Khader used to work at the Kozhikode AIR and here is where he worked with Shanta P Nair another great singer of yesteryears in bringing ‘Lalitha sangeetham’ programs on AIR.

Sreekumaran Thampi the famous Malayalam lyricist says that it was ‘Engine nee marakkum’ by Abdul Khader that triggered his interest in writing songs!!!

Stayajit tried to follow his father’s footsteps in the film world, but was unsuccessful and depressed, finally taking his life in a hotel room in Perambavoor. I listened to his cassette today and agree; without doubt the boy had talent and could have been a good singer, if only he had persisted. But well, life is life….

My favorites – Padaan orthoru madhuritha gaanam & Padoo pullankuzale
Most popular – Engine nee marakkum kuyile..

Some Khader songs
Padaan Orthoru
Padu Pullankuzale
Engine nee marakkum
Thanga kinakkal
Sree narayana guru
Nee enthariyunnu
Tharakam irulil
Mayaruthe vanaradhe
Pacha panam thatte
Parithamamithe haa jeevithame

Readers - An updated blog on KAK can be seen here


Baiju Elikkattoor said...

Nice and thanks for rare photograph. Where the originals one can get from..?

narendra shenoy said...

I don't speak Malayalam but your post was interesting nevertheless.

Maddy said...

Baiju - I found them on the linked wikipedia site of abdul Khader. No clue who the originator is. as far as the MAK photo is concerned it is printed with and without color whenever an article of his comes up - so it must be a stock photo with the presswallah's..

Abraham Tharakan said...

Maddy, a fine post indeed.
Thanks for reminding of 'Pachapanamthathe' and 'Engine nee marakkum' - immortal songs that remain dormant in one's mind for decades.

Happy Kitten said...

Maddie I thought "Pacha Panamthatha" was copied after an English song... it is the same tune.. so now I wonder who copied whom.

Maddy said...

HK - I am not sure about the english original or version of Pacha panam thatte...but in those days a few malayalam songs were remade hindi tunes and a lot of hindi tunes were picked from mozart, vivaldi's it could very well be

MJ covers this issue in this hindu article -

In reality this could be the truth - The original recording was by Bagheerathi and Khader.It was popularised on stage by Machad Vasanthi and Khader and they were for all practical purposes considered the 'owners'.

Another interesting note - Khader was supposed to 'sort of' take over the Saigal mantle in Hindi, but soon after the recordings were set with HMV, he had to go back to Calicut due to a family tragedy..The opportunity never came again..

Nanditha Prabhu said...

that was a fine post indeed . i remember appa humming these songs :)

Joe said...

Nice tribute Maddy...

Maddy said...

thanks narendra, nanditha & surprises me that a number of people still remember khader & mehaboob and castigate me for stating that there are only a few who remember them today...hope the tribes grow..

Anonymous said...


Anotherv good post. Pachapanamthathey created unnecessary stir. But Jayan has done a wonerful job. Rrecently on a visit to Dubai, Dasettan sang it. I was lucky to attend that function. The sadness and the anxious wait is brought out much by Jayan's work and Dasettan's voice. The original version was little more romantic. I think there was a female voice to accompany Abdulkhader and it was done by Vasanthy.


Maddy said...


had clarified this with HK earlier - The original PPT recording was by Bagheerathi and Khader.It was popularised on various stage shows by Machad Vasanthi and Khader and they were for all practical purposes considered the 'owners'.Recently i heard MV hum these lines as they were done originally - much more romantic as you say & slow.

humbl devil said...

once again, a very well researched detailed tribute!!!

Ms Cris said...

That was a nice read!
About M Jayachandran, I am planning to come up with the list of all the songs he had done and all the originals! Hehe.

I am just starting a new blog on music too. Let me see if I could find any of these Khader songs.

Maddy said...

Thanks Cris, I finally found the originals of the Khader songs! Thanks to

All the best with your site..I will check it out.

Anonymous said...

Dear Maddy,
Note : Abdul Khader married only one lady, her name is Aachumma. and tey had 5 children. 4girls and 1boy. that son is Najmal Babu. Abdul Khader didnt marry Santa Devi.

Maddy said...

Thanks for the comment - but when Shanta devi herself states to Hindu (Check hyperlink) that she was married to him and when his nephew Andrews confirmed about the relationship - I wonder what basis you have for your commnent. Also Satyajit is pretty well known to be Khader's son through Shanta devi. Maybe you can clarify...

Anonymous said...

Kozhikode Abdul Khader did not marry Shantha Devi. Satyajith, who committed suicide last year, was their only son, though! Khader did marry a muslim woman, Aachumma, Baburaj's sister-in-law. Najmal Babu is the eldest son of Khader and Aachumma.

anish said...

If you could you share with us some of Khaderkkas then that would be really great

Maddy said...

anish - go to entelokam - you can get most of them there

jerry said...

Everything well put, except for a howler. Najmal Babu was not Shantha Devi's son. His mother was Abdul Khader's first wife. The blog entry appears to romanticize Abdul Khader - A Christian converting to Islam marrying a Hindu. Real life is not so romantic. Sathyajit, AK's and Shantha Devi's son is dead. Najmal Babu is alive, and I remember him savaging Shantha Devil at the release of docufilm on AK, saying that AK never married Shantha Devi and only started to live with her etc. What is also forgotten is that AK was a fellow traveller, having sung at thousands of communist functions. "Pach Panam Thathe" was sung for "Nammalonnu" an agit-prop play written by K

K M Sherrif

Maddy said...

hi Sherrif..

Thanks a lot and I admit that this requires correction as the same was pointed out earlier by a couple of others. My apologies for not getting to it.

But i actually followed this up with another artcile on AK in some more detail as you can see in this new location.

yes, you are also right about the Shanta Devi relationship, as i learnt later.

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