After flying high with Mynaa, Imman is all set to regale audiences with his tunes in his upcoming Prabhu Solomon-directed Kumki

Over the years chartbusters from Imman have been many, but it was his music for Mynaa that catapulted him to higher rungs of fame. Once again the young composer joins Mynaa’s director Prabhu Solomon for Kumki. The title (Kumki is a trained Indian elephant) suggests that the bucolic milieu of the film could be fresh for Tamil audiences. With the audio release of Kumki round the corner, it seems an ideal time to talk to Imman. “As you say, I’ve given several hit numbers, but this is an industry where your effort gets noticed only when the film works at the turnstiles,” says Imman. “Recognition for my work has increased manifold after the success of Mynaa.” Beginning with the Vijay release, Tamizhan, while still in his teens, Imman has so far composed music for more than 30 films. And from King and Kokki to Lee and Laadam, Prabhu Solomon has also offered worthy projects.

But their careers followed a high trajectory and hit the bull’s eye, when Mynaa turned out to be a success at the BO and won critical acclaim. “The balance isn’t easy to strike. Bowing down to box office demands and also maintaining a stand that isn’t formulaic is tough. Mynaa managed it beautifully and now my career is being segmented as ‘Before Mynaa and after,’” laughs Imman. Be it the haunting refrain of ‘Mynaa Mynaa Nenjukkula,’ the melodious ‘Kaiyya Pudi’ or the folk beats of ‘Jingi Jingi’, music was a highlight of Mynaa.

A rewarding experience

The team of Solomon, Imman and Yugabharathi met often for Kumki to discuss song situations, have the lyrics penned and compose the tunes. Like they did during the era of Kannadasan and Viswanathan when the verse writer and composer sat together and worked on a song? “Exactly, today each is in a different place, one composes the tune and sends it and the other gives the words for it. The director could be in any corner of the globe listening in and giving the green signal. But for Kumki, the three of us were physically present at the studio to decide on the music. I found it rewarding,” smiles Imman. Matters didn’t stop there. Together the three would go back to every song after a gap and improve on it. “Hopefully the music that has emerged from the rapport we have and the compatibility we share should help us reap rich dividends.”

It’s not as though the composing session was held at a stretch. After a shooting schedule, Prabhu Solomon would return with an idea for a song sequence and they would work on it. Much time, deliberation and diligence have gone into the seven songs of Kumki. And Imman has tried out some unusual genres such as Thappisai of the Madurai belt. He even brought down 10 members of Samar Isai Kuzhu from there, for a song.

Gibberish in refrains is the ‘in’ thing. If Vijay Antony’s ‘Naaku Mooka’ had listeners dancing deliriously to the beats, Imman’s ‘Jingi Jingi’ made a great impact too. So will we get to hear some unintelligible words in the songs of Kumki? “Can’t escape the trend,” he shrugs. “‘Soin …’ is a village song and Magizhini Manimaran is the singer. I think audiences will love it.” Fad apart, does the platter have a dose of novelty? “A song that sounds more like an elephant walk, ‘Aiyaiyaiyo Aandamae’ in the voices of Haricharan and Aditi Paul!” Like the ever-popular Hatari music of yore? “Except that this is original,” he laughs.

Lilting numbers, such as ‘Mobileaa,’ from the film Rendu revealed another facet of Imman — the singer. “Unless the director insists, I don’t use my voice. Prabhu wanted me to sing the ‘Onum Puriyala’ piece for Kumki and I’ve done it,” he says. Malayalam music composer Alphonse has also been roped in for a song.

None in Imman’s family is into music. “My dad, David, was a Botany teacher and mom Manjula, a homemaker.” But they helped create an atmosphere conducive for their only child, to pursue the art. “They got me a keyboard when I was just four and a half and put me under the right teachers, including my first guru Premkumar Sathya, and Abdul Sattar, under whose guidance I completed my eighth grade in Piano at the Trinity College, London. I owe it to all of them,” Imman strikes a sentimental note.

Earlier, Imman often wondered why projects with true-to-life stories never came to him. “At times it was so depressing that it affected my work.” Slowly he began to turn stoical, and that’s when Mynaa came his way. Now Kumki could consolidate his position further.