Govind P. Menon, music director of North 24 Kaatham and founder of the now-viral band Thaikkudam Bridge says that his life in music was a tough but inevitable choice
‘Ayela, mathi, choora, kaari, kanava, killimeen, vatta, vaala…’ goes the ‘Fish Rock’ song by Thaikkudam Bridge. It starts like a rock version of a folk song and as you settle into the groove comes the list, which sounds like a fishmonger’s list of goods. A backing vocalist even offers to ‘show you how to eat fish’. It is a ditty to fish, a fish lover’s song. The idea sounds mad but Govind P. Menon, the founder of the band, says, “I love eating fish and it was a given that I had to write a song on fish, a tribute to my love for fish.” The song, with a strong folksy flavour, has since gone viral.
Music was part of Govind’s scheme of things but it was serendipity, in the form of a TV show, which led to the band’s formation. Thaikkudam Bridge made its debut, on television, in early August. Cousins Govind and Siddharth Menon sent a medley of A.R. Rahman’s songs as a sample track to the channel and they were asked over to perform.
The cousins using their extensive contacts in the music industry put together a band of 13. The band performed 12 songs, of which two were originals and the rest were covers. The response didn’t match the expectations of the band. And then they uploaded the songs on YouTube. ‘Fish Rock’ has got almost 50,000 plus views in the first three weeks and Govind’s medley of old Malayalam songs has been viewed more than 1,00,000 times.
Thaikkudam Bridge is one aspect of the 24 year-old’s music. A few years ago he was part of the two-member instrumental band called Malabar. He sings, plays the violin, writes songs and composes music too. His passion then? “It is composing.”
He is the music director for Anil Radhakrishnan Menon’s North 24 Kaatham (N24K). He has composed four songs for the film including ‘Harthal Punk’. Govind made his debut as music director, a couple of years ago, with Asuravithu. The response to N24K has been very encouraging, he says, and he is in talks for other projects.
As composer and arranger for Thaikkudam Bridge, Govind selected the songs for the cover versions for the debut show. Some popular Malayalam film songs of the 80s and 90s have been resurrected, ‘rearranged’ rather, to make ‘Nostalgia’. “I was apprehensive about what some people might consider ‘meddling’ with well-loved songs. The ‘what if’ was always there. I have included songs which I feel did not get their due at the time. There is a generation which is not familiar with these songs them. It was also a means to introduce another generation to these songs.”
Even Michael Jackson’s iconic ‘Beat it’ was rearranged, “which people loved”. The other songs include those by Illayaraja and Sukhwinder Singh’s little known ‘Haq Allah’ from the film Black and White. Besides ‘Fish Rock’, the other original song is ‘Shiva’, written by Govind.
His father, Peethambaran Menon, is also part of the band. Peethambaran has sung, in the 70s, for the ganamela troupe, Voice of Thrissur. Peethamabaran’s rendering of ‘Thekkum Kooradiyathi’ from the 60s film Ashwamedham is haunting.
“My mother has sung this song as a lullaby for my older sister, Dhanya, and I. And recently I heard my sister singing it for her child and that’s when the song struck me.”
The musician from Irinjalakuda says his father is his earliest musical influence. “After Class 10 I wasn’t doing anything ‘productive’, but he stood by me.”
The Chennai-based keyboard programmer has worked with music directors such as Ouseppachan, Gopi Sundar, M. Jayachandran and Hitesh Sonik in Mumbai.
Getting to where he has reached has been a struggle. He went to Chennai as a 19 year-old, with no godfathers except raw talent to make a go of his musical dreams. He wound up at Gopi Sundar’s studio, playing the violin before turning keyboard programmer. “It (playing the violin) was a means of earning a livelihood,” he dismisses his violin-playing. It did, however, take him to the quarter finals of a reality show. He did not participate in the semi-finals because “it was the violin. I don’t play it much. I take it along with me everywhere like a good luck charm.”
Coming to fish song... what’s his favourite fish? “Mathi and fried.”