This season of film awards more or less is a confession too. Talents that were conveniently forgotten or not regarded for their hard labours are finally being acknowledged. The living legend in Malayalam music composition M.K. Arjunan has completed half-a-century in cinema when he is bestowed with the state honour for best music composer — for the first time in his five decades in the industry. It was quite unexpected. “There were movies I had hopes of receiving an award for. Later on, I stopped expecting any recognition in return. I have no disappointment for not getting something from those who do not accept me. When I scored music for this film, the team was hopeful of an award, but I was not,” he says.
From the age of 22, Arjunan maashu or Arjunan master, as he is respectfully called in the industry, has been weaving music for Malayalis. The beginning was with theatre. “I came to theatre in 1958. My first movie was Karutha Pournami with Bhaskaran maashu in 1968,” he recollects. The trail from then on has been eventful. He has a history of working with stalwarts like Vayalar Rama Varma and Sreekumaran Thampi. Surpassing most of his contemporaries, who are no longer alive, he continues his stride as a musician even now.
The award has come to him for tuning three songs in the Jayaraj movie Bhayanakam, all three penned by the old chum, Thampi. This is his association with the director for the third time. It is Arjunan master’s music we hear for the films Nayika and Veeram. When he says he does not have too many choices, the master prefers to have poetry in the verses. “I’d compose according to the nature of poetry. If found unfit to my taste, I wouldn’t commit to that work,” he smiles.
In the long journey, master doesn’t name any one as his favourite lyricist.
“There’d be some affection towards a person with whom I work quite often. That’s it,” he says. What does he consider the biggest asset so far? “I am lucky to have got good writers, producers and singers (like Yesudas) who have helped me grow as a musician,” says he. In a sabbatical phase, he says if he feels like continuing, he would. It’s true that it has been a much delayed honour for him. But this moment could be a golden addition to his biography in the making. The yet-to-be-titled work penned by Vinod Krishnan, a Palakkad-based teacher, is up for an April launch....