Three members of Atma and Deepak Dev get together to re-create the band's popular single ‘My House'

This is my house

And it's got just a single room

I sit near the window all night long.

It's been a long day

And I'm waiting for my name to be called…

Koshy Thomas loved this song and always wanted to sing it. This was a single, ‘My House,' in a self-titled album brought out by Atma, the rocking city band of the 90s of which Koshy was an integral part. Written and composed by friends Vinod Varma and Nirmal Antony, this was usually sung on stage by Vinod.

That was a long time ago. Atma that had wowed audiences with their unalloyed music, original and cover versions do not play any longer. They were once among the best in the business sending crowds into a woozy wherever they played.

Memorable phase

That was one, long, memorable phase. The members, intimate friends, were ‘scattered away' somewhere along the road to fame. While Koshy and Vinod took up jobs, with the latter still squeezing in time for his music, Nirmal turned professional musician joining a lot of big-time musicians. And another friend, Deepak Dev, moved to Chennai set up his studio and is immersed in music direction.

Koshy, now battling cancer, in and out of hospital, wished to rework the song ‘My House,' revisit that dream. This wish brought the four friends together once again.

“We, Koshy, Nirmal and me, got together one day in November at Koshy's house in Kizhakambalam. We recorded the song and also shot some visuals. I could not bear to listen to Koshy sing some of those very sad lines. I deliberately decided to sing them leaving the rest to Koshy,” recalls Vinod who then sent it through to Deepak Dev.

The orchestration and arrangements were done by Deepak in Chennai. “He added a whole new colour to the song. The whole process was interesting because it was done through phone calls in between recording sessions. We were also very fortunate to have the presence of Rex Master and his group. More than anything else this album, now uploaded on You Tube, shows our strong bond of friendship after all these years.”

Deepak who arranged the music and produced the album got some of the best musicians like Rex Master and group to play the violas, Seenu on the cello, Sushin the mandolin, while Nirmal and Vinod played the drums and guitars respectively.

“This was my surprise for Koshy. We had not met for such a long time and when Vinod sent me the recordings and told me everything about my friend, I thought I must do something for friendship's sake. I'm glad it turned out well. It had to for after all it came right from the heart. When I came down to Kochi to meet Koshy, he, that day, had problems with his blood pressure. When we showed him this album I saw the excitement, the happiness on his face. His blood pressure came back to normal and the doctors told us to keep him happy through what he loves most – music,” says Deepak.

Koshy, who studied at St. Paul's College, Kalamassery, was a much-sought after singer during his college days. He started off with Wrenz before Atma was formed.

Sitting on his hospital bed Koshy plays another album made a few months before ‘My House' on his laptop. Titled ‘Back in the 90s' it takes you on a nostalgic trip to the time when they were all young, bubbling musicians, with music in their blood and love in their hearts. Koshy rewinds on how popular Atma was, their rocking performances at the great Indian rock festival in Mumbai, how he as member of the Mahatama Gandhi University team won the National title at Varanasi…

The video goes on. Koshy sings about friendship that lingers on though some stay near, some so far and some even lost a long way.

I leave wishing Koshy, praying for his speedy recovery, closing the door of the hospital room. Vinod keeps talking to me. But I could hardly hear him for Koshy's haunting voice kept singing in me. ‘This is my house, where I've been living for so long. This is the place where I was born and brought up. I will never leave this house…

Keywords: Atmarock band

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012