God’s Own Twenty20: A rich musical year despite fewer film releases

A relatively unknown tribal folk singer belting an obscure folk song in her native slang literally catapulted Nanjiyamma into the public sphere, turning her into an overnight sensation.

It was a terrific precursor to Ayyappanum Koshiyum, fenced in the background of Attappadi in Palakkad district, about two egoistic men from different socio-cultural backgrounds who are unceremoniously pitted against each other, resulting in a lot of muddy fights and slanging matches.

The Kalakkatha song, composed by Jakes Bejoy and  arranged by Attapadi musicians, brilliantly captures the essence of the narrative, uniqueness of the terrain and the earthiness of its people and infuses the folksy ethnicity of the region.

The album had other interesting renderings as well, especially its promo song, Adakachakko, a fun version sung by the lead actors Biju Menon and Prithviraj Sukumaran that underscores their on-screen rivalry.

Melodious debut

Ankit Menon makes a promising debut as a music director with Gauthamante Radham and the album had a blend of mushy melodies and feel-good tunes. The pick of the lot would be Sid Sriram’s version of Uyire, tailormade to suit that note of longing in his voice. Ankit has also given his voice (it is a bit difficult to differentiate their voices) to the same song. The song has Hindi (Ud Chala) and Malayalam (Theera Kadha) versions. Surprisingly the Hindi song sounds better and Ankit Seems to be more at home with the Hindi rendition.  Gowri Lekshmy’s Moham Ennorunthu Vandi is another standout song from the album.

Songs for the narrative

Varane Avashyamundu, which marks the debut of Anoop Sathyan as director and Dulquer Salmaan as Producer, with music by Alphons Joseph has songs that blend seamlessly into the narrative.

As a standalone album, perhaps, it might not be an exciting pick. But listen to the songs as part of the film and they evoke instant nostalgia — be it the effusive hat-tip to Shobhana’s exquisiteness with Mullapoove (Haricharan), the Unnikrishnan song that captures the clumsy-cute chemistry between Suresh Gopy and Shobana, the restfully semi-classical Nee Vaa Enn Arumukha or the KS Chithra-crooned Kuttikurumba that is as warm as a cup of hot chocolate in winters.

Trance experiment

If I were to pick the album of the year, it has to be Trance, composed by multiple musicians. The film that takes us through the conversion of Viju from a motivational speaker to a neurotic pastor Joshua Carlton has scope for experimental soundscape that dwells into his emotional and psychological roller coaster.

Jackson Vijayan has scored most songs, while Vinayakan TK has contributed a few with Vijayan and Sushin Syam credited for the background score. Jackson Vijayan’s Raat is an intoxicating medley of sounds and vocals (Sneha Kanwalkar, Neha Nair), a perfect disco song with its psychedelic fervour. While the title track composed by Vinayakan is a dark and hazy ambient song. Jackson’s Noolupoya pattangal (Pradeep Kumar, Mohammed Maqbool Mansoor, Jackson Vijayan) may remind you of Pakalin from Parava. It signifies hope, reflecting his child-like enthusiasm for life. Jackson’s Vathil Chari Vanna Thinkale takes you through the inward journey of Esther, and her developing relationship with Joshua and Joshua’s own transition. The vocals by Shakthisree Gopalan is softly husky, suggestive of a romance in the offing. Each song in multitude ways reverberate with Joshua and his temperamental dark phase, while the lyrics carry an emotional load that drives his narrative forward.

Like Jalaame, for instance composed by Jackson Vijayan is a mild but powerful preparatory anthem, a cue for Joshua to centre stage.

Divine rendition

Sufiyum Sujathayum, a musical love story about a Sufi saint and a Hindu girl wafts in the backdrop of Sufi music.

M Jayachandran’s Vathikkalu Vellaripravu, sung by Nithya Mammen (who sounds uncannily like Shreya Ghoshal) and Arjun Krishna may be the crowd favourite, but equally or even more impressive is the song Alhamdilullah, sung by Sudeep Palanad, who composed the song, and Amrita Suresh. There is a divinity in its music. The way he intones Alhamdilullah, is almost meditative with that radiant note of romance between the lines making it a perfect setting to unveil their silent love affair.

Shahbaz Aman’s magic

Shahbaz Aman’s Sundaranayavane effortlessly sets the tone for Zachariah’s Halal Love Story. It is a song (lyrics by Muhsin Parari) that signifies the landscape, the ethnicity, people, culture, and a journey filled with optimism. Aman’s voice has this tenderness and liveliness that makes you feel he is directly singing to you. You can get this feeling in his Bismillah song as well.

Manju Warrier’s Internet hit

Manju Warrier’s Kim Kim from Jack N Jill has taken the internet by storm. Written by Hari Narayanan BK and composed by Ram Surendar, it is the kind of song that grows on you, and Manju’s graceful dance moves make the song much attractive.

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