The hits and misses of Mollywood music industry in 2012.

Fresh music, melodious tracks, experimentations, celebrity singers and chart-topping songs that did not please purists made up the film music scene of 2012. While established composers did not disappoint listeners, a new crop of composers burst into the scene. Voices, heard and unheard, tuned in with some unforgettable numbers. The Mollywood music industry had several noteworthy features in 2012.

Apparently, it was a year when a record number of composers, lyricists and singers made their debut. As per www. malayasangeetham.info, a portal on Malayalam music and the film industry, 86 composers made their debut in 2012; it was 46 in 2011! Ninety-two lyricists entered the industry this year against 42 last year. While 117 new singers debuted in 2011, the number is 137 this year.

However, the truth is that many of the debutant composers were not able to catch the ear of music buffs. “Those songs did not strike a chord with music lovers. Today, if you can play a keyboard you can be a composer, by mixing synthetic voices on the computer. Such songs don’t have a soul. In fact, composing has become a shortcut to fame,” views Ravi Menon, music critic and music research head of Mathrubhumi group.

In fact, it has been the big names who scored this year (see box). “Every year has its share of hit songs. But, this time most of the debutants could not make it to the charts. Names such as Roby Abraham (Theevram, Friday) have impressed to a small extent, but the best songs were made by composers who have been there in the industry for a few years now,” says Premchandran of Satyam Audios. He adds: “Perhaps, a reason why so many new composers got their debut is that a large number of films were released this year. Above 60 per cent of them were experimental works, with new composers, lyricists and singers. Since most of these films failed at the box-office, the crew also went unnoticed.” The album that has emerged on top of the charts is Thattathin Marayathu. “It was refreshing to hear the notes of the sarangi in the song ‘Muthuchuppi…’ from the movie,” says Ravi, adding: “Good directors insist on good music and good lyrics. Examples are songs from Spirit. Music by Shahabaz (Aman) wasn’t loud, he just underlined the depth of lyrics by Rafeeq Ahamed.”

Talking about lyrics, Rafeeq clearly ruled the scene having written over 70 songs. The poet-lyricist has penned hit numbers as ‘Aattumanal…’ (Run Baby Run) and songs of Nidra, Ustad Hotel, Diamond Necklace, Spirit and many more. “The number increased because more films were released this year. But lyricists don’t often get noticed. It is the tune and visualisation of a song that make a song a hit. Lyrics, often, takes a backseat. In fact, there have been songs that I liked a lot, but didn’t get noticed because the film didn’t do well. For instance, Ithra Mathram,” Rafeeq says.

And he is quite unperturbed by criticisms hurled against him for writing ‘Appangal embadum…’ from Ustad Hotel. The very song which made Anna Katharina Valayil the talk of the town. Other than Anna, the industry got a few more new singers, such as Sachin Warrier (Thattathin Marayathu), Nivas, Abhirami and Sanjeev Thomas (Diamond Necklace), Nikhil Mathew (Ayalum Njaanum Thammil), Rajesh Krishnan (popular Kannada-Telugu singer, in Chattakkari) and Rex Vijayan (Da Thadiya). Composer Vidyasagar too made his singing debut under Deepak Dev for 101 Weddings.

Among the female singers, Shreya Ghosal continued to be on song in Mollywood with songs from Nidra, Spanish Masala, Ordinary, Chattakkari, Mallu Singh and Bachelor Party. Though there wasn’t such a domination among the male singers, Vijay Yesudas got to sing some melodious numbers in Spirit, Grandmaster and Asuravithu.

It was also a year when many actors doubled up as playback singers too. The year also saw directors and composers using clips featuring celebrity singers to promote the movie and its music. And among the singers who got a fresh lease of life Najeem Arshad is right on top, with songs such as ‘Thottu thottu…’ (Diamond Necklace) and ‘Kanninullil nee…’ (Trivandrum Lodge).

So, as we welcome another year, let’s hope the music gets better.

Pick of the lot

Vidyasagar (Spanish Masala, Ordinary, Diamond Necklace, Thappana)

Shaan Rahman (Thattathin Marayathu)

M. Jayachandran (Mallu Singh, Chattakkari, Trivandrum Lodge, My Boss)

Ratheesh Vega (Poppins, Run Baby Run)

Ousepachan (Arike, Ayalum Njanum Thammil)

Gopi Sundar (Casanovva, Ee Adutha Kalathu, Ustad Hotel)

Sharreth (Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty, Ivan Megharoopan)

Deepak Dev (Grandmaster)

Shahabaz Aman (Spirit)

M.G. Sreekumar (Kunjaliyan, Husbands in Goa)

Bijibal (22 Female Kottayam, Ozhimuri, Da Thadiya)

Alphons (Cinema Company)

Avial band (Second Show, 22 Female Kottayam)

Celebrity singers

Mohanlal (Run Baby Run), Mammootty (Thappana), Mamta Mohandas (Arike), Ramya Nambheesan (Ivan Megharoopan, Bachelor Party), Nithya Menen (Poppins), Kavya Madhavan and Mythili (Matinee), actor-director Lal (Cobra, Chettayees) and Biju Menon (Chettayees).