By Shevlin Sebastian
A few months ago, Mollywood music composer Sharreth woke up one morning feeling guilty. He remembered that lyricist Sasikala Menon had sent him the words of a few folk songs several weeks earlier. And he had not done anything about it.
So Sharreth went to his harmonium, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., he sat and wrote the tunes for all the nine songs. “I was in an inspired state,” he says. “Sasikala had written them well. Four songs have western accompaniments. I wanted to make it attractive to the modern generation.”
But when Sharreth came across one particular lyric, ‘Kannu karuthu mukham veluthu' (Black eyes and fair face), he decided to do it in the 'a capella' style. Which means that there is no music. The singers use their hands to clap and stamp their feet to make sounds. This has become a popular video on You Tube.
For this song, Sharreth called on a group of youngsters who had been contestants in a music programme on TV, as well as Amrutha Suresh, a bright young Mollywood talent.
“Usually when I sing with Sharreth Sir, there is some kind of music accompaniment,” says Amrutha. “But for this song, I noticed that there was nothing. I could not understand what he was doing. To sing without any music is challenging. And after I had finished, he did not let me hear it. It was a puzzle.”
In fact, Amrutha never knew that it was an 'a capella' song. Later, when Sharreth sent Amrutha the song, she was shocked. “I never imagined the song would turn out like this,” she says. “It was an unique experience.”
The name of the CD, brought out by East Coast Audios, is also unique. It is called 'StrawberryTheyyam'. “This was suggested by the actor Anoop Menon,” says Sasikala. “It is a nice mix of the East and the West.”
The lyrics are unusual. It is about the life of the tribals of Kerala. “I had only written devotional songs,” says Sasikala. “So I wanted to move into a new direction. I did a lot of research about the tribals and then wrote the lyrics. One song is a Ganapati hymn of the Adivasis. Another is of children as they watch their mother harvesting the paddy while lightning strikes the sky. Some are about love.”
In fact, Sasikala had purposely sent it to Sharreth as she felt that he was the one who could do justice to it. “He has an unique style,” says Sasikala. “I knew he would do it in a different way than any other composer.”
Incidentally, for the other songs, Sharreth used established singers like Afzal, Vidhu Pratap, Jyotsna, Nisha, Pradeep Palluruthy and the actress, Remya Nambeesan.
Meanwhile, when asked about his experience, Sharreth says, “The charm of doing an album is that you have creative freedom. When I work for a film, I have to listen to the story and do the song according to the mood. I also have to obey the director who is the captain. But in an album, you don't have to listen to anybody. You can try some experimentation, and nobody is there to object to it.”
(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and New Delhi)