Chat Music director Sharreth ushers in a new phase in his oeuvre with his stylish tracks for the bilingual Tamil-Telugu film 180

Sharreth is supposed to play by the rules; rules that he himself outlined with his penchant for composing soul-stirring Malayalam ballads (and, of course, his equally emotional or sharp comments to reality show contestants). And then he goes and does an A.R. Rahman – a full on, new-age album that's bursting with melody and instrumental whiz work!

Well, it's certainly paid off because Sharreth's stylish compositions for the bilingual film 180, directed by adman Jayendra and starring Siddharth, Priya Anand and Nithya Menon, are currently rocking the music charts in Tamil and Telugu, especially the unusual Nee Korinaal... (sung by Karthik and Shwetha Mohan) and the thumping Vuvuzela Uthu, Rules Kidyathu... (sung by Tippu).

Out of his comfort zone

For a composer who has been for long reluctant to step out of his comfort zone, Sharreth sure has expanded his oeuvre to herald in the funky. The album is, in a sense, the veteran Malayali composer's first crossover hit. “I am super excited, to say the least. It's one thing when your family, friends or peers congratulate you for your work. But when the public takes your compositions to heart, and gets up in the middle of a screening to dance to it or applaud it as they have been doing, it feels fantastic!” says Sharreth. “I've not really had this kind of response from the public since Sree Ragamo... (Pavithram, 1994) and Palapoovithalil... (Thirakkatha, 2008) hit the charts. But then those two were a different genre for a different audience altogether,” adds the genial composer, who says that a lot of hard work has gone into the songs for 180.

“If only I could count the number of times I've had to change tunes at Jayendra sir's insistence or when he himself changed the entire concept of a song! In fact, with all this composing and re-composing for 180 I find myself with a kitty full of tunes, enough to last me quite a while!” says Sharreth, who has worked with Jayendra on quite a few ad films together. “It makes a whole lot of difference if a composer has a great equation with a film's director. I've known Jayendra sir for about 15 years now and we share a brotherly affection. But that does not mean he is not a hard taskmaster, a perfectionist who'll squeeze you dry until he gets the desired result,” adds Sharreth, who debuted in Tamil with June R (2005) and in Telugu with the musical Kalavaramaye Madilo (2009). Both the films sank without a trace but had some nice numbers, nonetheless. He debuted in Malayalam with Kshankathu (1990).

So is there a difference when composing for the Malayali audience and for the Tamil/Telugu audience considering that audience tastes vary a lot?

“Not really. Music is universal. If a composition is good, it'll work anywhere. Take the worldwide popularity of Michael Jackson's songs, for instance. It's only when you're composing songs that have a defined folk element in them that you've got to be careful to delve deep into the history of the region and its rhythms – to make it more authentic. 180 is not that kind of film, so I had the liberty to experiment,” he says.

With the stupendous success of 180, it's a given that he's getting offers aplenty, right? (Laughs). “Yes!” Three films each in Tamil and Telugu and four in Malayalam, to be exact.

Nita Sathyendran