Sitting in a multiplex watching the movie Maheshinte Prathikaram, when the song mala mele tiri vechu, Periyarin talayittu, chiri thookum pennale Idukki... flows into our ears accompanied by a thunderous drizzle in the backdrop, we feel like standing right in the middle of the hilly terrains. As the song goes on describing Idukki, its people, and their lifestyle, we sway and swoon along, feel the mist and greenery and as the song ends, we become one with the place and its people. We get ready to watch and listen to their story.
In another context, when Kuttiyappan (a character in Leela) sings Vattolam vaniyare kettukolka, kottayam pattaname kandu kolka..., beautifully binding the town’s significant landmarks in a single thread, we tap our feet to the beats and our minds traverse through the place. That alluring are these songs on destinations.
A few more songs have, in recent times, caught the attention of Malayalis — Dubai song (Jacobinte Swargarajyam), Chennai Pattanam (Oru Vadakkan Selfie), Namma Ooru (Bangalore Days) Poorangalude Pooram (Punyalan Agarbathis), and Kayalinarike (Annayum Rasoolum) to pick a few. And, a few more are in the making.
The trend is not new by the way. There have been songs celebrating places in the past. How can a Malayali forget Suruma Nalla Suruma (Kayamkulam Kochunni) or Kollathu Ninnoru Pennu (Minnaminugu)? But, the trend continues to stride like never before. If they came embedded somewhere in the movie in yesteryears, now they have graduated to adorn the title position.
And, these melodic odes to places serve as a medium to communicate with the audience. “Idukki song helped me convince my audience about the location where the story takes place,” says Dileesh Pothen, director of Maheshinte Prathikaram.
“It was the plot of the movie that came to my mind first. Then I decided to fix the milieu in Idukki. Not all viewers may have been to Idukki. So, I needed to tell them about the place,” adds Dileesh, who believes that each place and its people have its own characteristics. “A person from an urban setting may not go on to take revenge like what the central character does in Maheshinte Prathikaram. Hence, I had to convey the lifestyle of Idukki people before the audience. The Idukki song generated curiosity and expectation among viewers,” explains Dileesh.
Idukki song is penned by Rafeeq Ahemad, and music is scored by Bijibal. It was a novel experience for Rafeeq Ahemad to write this song. “In movies, emotions are more or less the same and we know the pattern. Songs like these bring some thematic novelty. I was happy to work on a challenging Idukki song,” says Rafeeq. He had visited Idukki a few times before. “But, I didn’t go there to write this song.
They told me that they wanted a song that captures the beauty of the place. It is one of the beautiful places in Kerala embellished with forests and rivers. I am not deeply attached to the place. But, I have some friends there. I talked to them to find out the features of Idukki and thus, it happened,” recollects Rafeeq who is an admirer of the Suruma Nalla Suruma song. Rafeeq had earlier wrote about Trithala in Palakkad, but not for a movie. Now, he is engrossed on another place song.
What goes inside a music composer’s mind when he is asked to lend music to a place? Shaan Rahman, who composed the Dubai song and Chennai pattanam, says, “I have adopted two entirely different styles for these two songs. For Oru Vadakkan Selfie, the song had the purpose to bring out the flavour of the place. Hence, I focused on instruments and sounds of the place. Lyrics were not that significant in that song.” Whereas in Dubai song, Shaan deviated from the expected route.
Released by Muzik 24x7, it topped the iTunes Top 200 Regional Indian chart within hours of its release as a single. “I didn’t use any Arab musical instrument in Dubai song. I had hinted this to Vineeth during the discussion. Here, lyrics play a crucial role and I choose a natural tune without marring the charm of it. Only guitar and certain soft music are used in Dubai song to highlight the family bonding,” adds Shaan, who is busy devising tunes for a song on Punjab for the movie Godha.