It all started when Shruthi Namboodiri and Sudeep were listening to the riffs of a Spanish guitar and found a Eureka moment. It hit them both that there was a touch of Indian music, to be more precise, the Carnatic raga Nalinakanti and its Hindustani counterpart Tilak Kamod in the foreign music. That set off a train of thought that had Shruthi writing some soulful lyrics and Sudeep fusing the Western notes of Spanish guitar and Indian musical instruments; thus, the music video album Baal, meaning ‘girl’, was born.
Shruthi, a lyricist based in Thrissur, has made corporate and short films as well as documentaries and has a great passion for arts and music. Sudeep, an audio engineer, composer and programmer, has composed music for films and jingles.
They, along with percussionist Naveen M.P. and Vishnu Dev — a classical
musician, formed a trust called the World Music Festival Foundation in 2015 with the intention to organise music-related programmes. The group wanted a signature anthem for the trust.
That was when Shruthi and Sudeep heard the Spanish guitar and what would have been a signature song turned out to be a full-fledged music video. Shruthi continues, “When Sudeep created the music, I thought about giving a different perception to this revolving around the theme of womanhood.”
Ey azhake alayaal, Ey abhaye porulaay are lines which wax eloquent on the beauty and strength of a woman and Baal is an ode to that power and beauty of womanhood. Shruthi continues, “Sudeep liked the lyrics and reworked the tune six times and finally created this beautiful tune. This is a group effort. We thought of including musicians and dancers; initially we had thought of including only singers and we were lucky to get six prominent singers Sujatha, Ranjani, Gayatri, yesteryear singer 76-year-old Kalyani Menon, 11-year-old Shreya and Sudeep’s sister Deepa Palanad.”
Six dancers also joined in adding visual beauty to the melodious, soulful music. Sudeep adds, “I focus on Indian music but I fused South Indian, North Indian and the Spanish guitar to come up with this tune.” Sudeep comes from a musically-inclined family. “My father Palanad Divakaran is a Kathakali musician and my sister Deepa a Kathakali musician. I am the only one who did not follow Kathakali music.”
Talking about why they opted for a music video, Sudeep says, “Through a video, we can explore social themes, but in films we become slaves to visuals. A music dance video gives us immense freedom.”
The background accompaniment was the next part and the duo wanted the Spanish guitar as the base. So they approached the very versatile Sumesh Parameshwaran for the guitar part. He liked the song and came onboard.
Sudeep recounts, “Sumesh came to the studio in a car loaded with 8-10 guitars.” Shruthi adds, “The singers sang for the album free of cost and Sumesh even paid the studio’s rent from his pocket. We also needed violin and flute and in came Bhavyalakshmi and flautist Raghu Nadhan who did the instrumental version.”
The six dancers — Bharatanatyam exponent Meenakshi Srinivasan, Koodiyattom practitioner Kapila Venu, Odissi dancer Arushi Mudgal, Kathakali exponent Haripriya Namboodiri, Mohiniyattom exponent Nanditha Prabhu and contemporary dancer Rima Kallingal — added arresting visual beauty to the album. “The dancers listened to the song and were impressed with the beauty and essence of the message,” mentions Shruthi.
Incidentally, there are three versions to the music video- an instrumental version, a male vocal (sung by Sudeep) version with visuals of the dancers and a female vocal version with visuals of the female singers and a dancer’s version. The orchestration is live.
Musician and singer Bijibal’s production house is launching the audio and it was he who gave a headstart to the album by providing the seed money. The video will be launched on February 8 as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale....