There is perhaps a reason viral is called viral. When you put the same prefix to a five-day fever and something that spreads rapidly across the internet, there’s got to be a catch. Viz. you can’t escape both. So Jimikki Kammal came into your lives and stayed on whether you liked it or not. So many brought out dance videos to this peppy song from Velipadinte Pusthakam that Appani Sarath and Arun Kurian, the original actors in the song, faded out and new names like Sheryl popped up. There were covers, mash-ups and a whole lot of dance videos coming from all over the world, that even popular American television host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted about the song that sounds so like his name.
Dance and music, of course, go hand in hand. But far away from Jimikki Kammal and the dance fever it created, was a music app called ‘Smule’, discovering talented singers singing duets from different corners of the world. There were some unintentionally funny and a whole lot of exemplary performances by people who simply loved to sing. Smule in Kerala has proven to be quite successful, even catapulting a few to stardom. Malayali Smule singers have formed a special bond. They decided to come together with groups and sub-groups and also decided to take their bonding outside of the app world and onto the stage.
When it comes to Smule singers who found fame through the app, it is Sibin Kumbalam’s name that takes the first spot. Sibin’s tryst with Smule started after his friend persuaded him. Today his karaoke videos are a hit on YouTube with some of them garnering about one million views.
His videos also features his wife Shenisha, who also happens to be a singer and a dancer. Sibin was a driver at a private laboratory in Kochi until recently but decided quit his job to be a full-time singer. “Responsibility takes centrestage when it comes to a job and after Smule happened I had to shuttle between stage shows and my job. So at one point I had to take the decision and took up singing full-time.” He adds, “I have been getting good live shows. My wife does accompany me for a few of the performances. A few people had also contacted me from the film industry.” Sharing the latest news, he says, “My wife recently composed a song written by a friend of mine. This is her first shot at composing and we sang it together. I have uploaded it on my Youtube channel. Another happy news is that I was invited to perform on the show Comedy Utsavam.The response we got from the gathering there was tremendous.” “We are happy to sing for the crowd,”he smiles.
Forging new bonds
One of the first Smule groups to be formed in Kerala was ‘Smule Kerala Singers’. This Facebook page currently has 3.5 lakh members and is also followed by a crowd of 3.7 lakhs. Amal Anto, founder of the group, says, “I think we can say for sure that Smule has helped not only in giving regular people a chance to sing but also paved the way for new friendships.”
“It has been just more than a year since Smule found such popularity in Kerala. And the Smule Singer Kerala group was formed around January. I believe this group found so much popularity because it is was created first.” Apart from this page, they also have a Facebook group with about 50,000 members. “Smule singers of Kerala have formed countless other groups within the app and all these groups, including Smule Kerala Singers organise competitions other interesting events online itself. For example, there are groups such as Virus and Smule Tarang, they have a good number of members, who have formed strong bonds and also organise get togethers from time to time. Tarang organised an award show as well. A handful of singers found viral fame and a few got offers from the film industry. Even small kids like Nandhu have a huge fan following.”
The song that broke barriers
This is beyond any of our expectations. When we release a song in Malayalam, natuarly we hope that it becomes a hit in Kerala or that it will be popular amongst malayalis across borders. But this song, broke barriers of language and through music alone turned into a different entity. It was even tweeted to Jimmi Kimmel. Sometimes it so happens that after composing a song, it is best to not tinker with it. Jimikki Kammal took 15 minutes to compose. The next process was penning the lyrics, recording and so on. The natural feeling under such a work pattern is that, as we keep on listening to the song after each step we will be tempted to bring in changes to it. I did not do that for this song and was pretty happy with sticking to the initial tune. What we are listening to now is the first tune that came into my mind, we did not improvise on it at any point. I was 100 per cent satisfied with the tune of Jimikki Kammal from the start....