February 2020 had a limited set of releases in Malayalam by its own standards. Trance (Jackson Vijayan), Ayyappanum Koshiyum (Jakes Bejoy) and Bhoomiyile Manohara Swakaryam (Sachin Balu) had their soundtracks released during this period apart from a couple of other independent releases. Despite all the stars in action in the aforementioned films that include Fahadh Faasil and Prithiviraj Sukumaran, Attapaadi Nanjamma, the tribal singer from the Irula community (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irula_people) hogged all the limelight and rightfully so.
Three of her compositions were featured in Ayyapanum Koshiyum and also played a key character in the film, which is set in Attapaadi. Ever since the songs released, she has been making trips to every popular reality show, as a guest. The makers have released a video of stars Prithiviraj & Biju Menon interviewing the lady as well. There are even dance covers and DJ remixes of her songs. So it is only fair that we start this article with her song(s).
Kalakkatha Sandana Meram – Ayyappanum Koshiyum – Attappaadi Nanjamma/Jakes Bejoy – Manorama Music
The percussion arrangements featuring native instruments and Attappaady musicians are infectious and Nanjamma’s innocent but powerful vocals are a delight. The lyrics in Irula language (is a delectable mix of Tamil, Malayalam, and Kannada among others), traditionally sung when a woman is feeding her child means ‘The sandalwood tree in the east is blooming. Shall we go pluck the flowers and see the Aeroplane?’.
Rating – 9/10
Thalam Poyi – Ayyappanum Koshiyum – Jakes Bejoy – Manorama Music
Building on the gloomy composition, ‘Naadu Mecchi’, by Nanjamma, this track features Sangeethaa and Jakes himself sharing vocal credits. Sangeethaa is a superb choice and the seasoned singer aces the rendition with Jakes backing it up with layered arrangements, keeping the sombre tone intact. Amal Raj pitches in with the electric & acoustic guitars, Oud, backing vocals and the Viola along with Napier Naveen Kumar on the bass.
Rating – 8/10
The inherent pep in the other native song ‘Adakachakko’ that features Nanjamma, gets diluted in giving space to the stars and works mainly for the folk backdrop. ‘Ariyathariyathe’ sung by Kottakkal Madhu is a good listen as well.
It is important to protect these native musicians and the incredibly rooted music and its diversity. Kudos to the team of Ayyappanum Koshiyum for bringing this to the fore.
Hats off Nanjamma! Here’s the ‘Adakachakko’ track in her voice that also gives us a peek into the lives of the Irula community.
Ee Vazhiye – The Kung Fu Master – Ishaan Chhabra – Muzik247
This is a sweet song in the voices of Karthik and Nithya Mammen and begins with an endearing tribal chant in Himachali dialect. The title hook and the pallavi are alluring and both the singers are superb. Strings by Fame’s Macedonian Symphonic Orchestra and Haritha Raj’s Veena stand out. The visuals are quite striking as well.
Rating – 7/10
Kannil Kaanum – Independent Release – Rajath Raveendran – Muzik247
K.S.Harisankar’s resonant vocals are the highlight of this serene track that Rajath crafts beautifully. Hari Sreedhar’s flute is interlaced well and shadows the vocals all through.
Rating – 6/10
Mathayichan & Jaalame – Trance – Jackson Vijayan – Muzik247
Jackson Vijayan conjures up a heady soundtrack in tune with the film’s title and each of the tracks is mighty effective.
‘Mathayichan’ featuring Blaaze and the super talented Soubin Shahir is infectious rap with the repetitive title hook holding the track together. The Sitar bit and the trumpet-like instrument in the background are used to superb effect.
Rating – 8/10
‘Jaalame’ is not listed on officially on Youtube but is one of the best tracks of the album. The track features a host of singers, including Jackson and his brother Rex along with Lal Krishna, Divya.S.Menon, Namitha Raju, Dev Issaro, Gagul Joseph and the Asima Ensemble Choir Group and uses it to brilliant effect to create the sweeping vocal harmony on show. The interludes featuring the trippy Sitar juxtaposed with the choir is immensely infectious. Superlative effort!
Rating – 10/10
Title Track – Trance – Vinayakan TK – Muzik247
The ‘Title Track’ composed and arranged by Vinayakan TK features Neha S Nair and Lee on the vocals. Neha’s composing partner Yakzan Gary Pereira is credited with additional keyboard programming alongside Ebin Pallachan. The vocals are used to great effect with Neha alternating between singing and reciting the lyrics. The ambient arrangements featuring Paulson on the Sitar make for a pulsating track.
Rating – 9/10
Smaranakal – Bhoomiyile Manohara Swakaryam – Sachin Balu – Manorama Music
This song has an old-world charm to it and Shahabaz Amman and Sithara Krishnakumar make for a wonderful pair to sing this dulcet melody. Sachin uses the violins (Vivek Calicut) and guitar (Ramiz Sulaiman) in the contours to lovely effect and the Veena touches played by Sachin himself adds up well.
Rating – 7/10
Kanakinte Pushtakam – Bhoomiyile Manohara Swakaryam – Sachin Balu – Manorama Music
This one talks about childhood love and is lead beautifully by Devdutt Bijibal ably supported by the composer himself and Krishnan Unni. The composition is saccharine sweet and brings out the innocence and the joy aptly. The harmonium interludes and Nikhil Ram’s flute provide the perfect backdrop to the track laced with Sufi flavors.
Rating – 8/10
The songs of Varane Avashyamundu composed by Alphons Joseph work more for the nostalgia onscreen (veteran actors Shobana and Suresh Gopi in the lead). ‘Mullapoove’ sung by Haricharan is a good listen.
Despite fewer releases, the quality of the output was quite impressive in February with most of the tracks being highly listenable. Trance was the stand-out soundtrack with an excellent set of compositions and Attapaadi Nanjamma the star of the month.