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Scaling peaks of success


M. Jayachandran's ability to compose music that suits the mood of the lyrics and his strong foundation in classical music have helped him score as a music director.

Getting inspiration and copying should be seen as quite different things. M. Jayachandran

PITCHING IT RIGHT: M. Jayachandran says that he derives inspiration from great music directors. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

M. Jayachandran has arrived. And he did not need any publicity to make his way to the top in Mollywood. His songs, which stay on top of the charts for weeks, do it for him.

For Jayachandran, music is melody. "You take any music anywhere in the world, time-tested compositions are all melodious," says the director whose favourite ragas are Kalyani and Dwijavanti.

In 1993, Jayachandran composed the music for his first film `Chantha.' After that he worked in about 20 films but most of it went unnoticed.

Turning point

It was with the song `Manikuyile' in the film `Vaalkannadi' that he first tasted popular success. " You could call that song a turning point in my career," he says.

Then the song `Ennale ente nenchile' in `Balettan' established him as a music director in the top bracket. The soulful music touched the hearts of listeners.

"That song was about the loss of a loved one. And when I composed the music, my mind was full of memories of my child whom I had lost. That is how art can be influenced by life's experiences."

Born and brought up in Thiruvananthapuram, Jayachandran began learning Carnatic music from the age of five, thanks to his father's interest in music. He began under Attingal Harihara Iyer, known also as Mullamoodu Bhagavathar, and later took lessons from Perumbavoor G. Ravindranath. Then, for 18 years, he was a devoted student of the late Neyyattinkara Mohanachandran.

"He taught me several rare raga-based kritis. He was a treasure house of knowledge... I learnt such a lot from him and yet there remained so much more to learn. His death was a great loss."

But the strong foundation in classical music helped Jayachandran give more than 150 vocal concerts throughout India and abroad at a young age.

Four times in a row, from 1987 to 1990, Jayachandran stood first in Carnatic vocal in the Kerala University Youth Festival. This electrical engineer gave up his job in Asianet to become a full-time musician.

"In many ways they are my inspiration - MBS and Devarajan Master. Meeting M.B. Srinivasan broadened my perspective in music. Associating with Devarajan Master paved my way into films," says Jayachandran, winner of the 2004 Kerala State Film Award for the best music director.

"Till I reached college, my world was confined to the classical form. In college, I began to sing and, sometimes, conduct the Kerala University Choir. The choir was conducted mainly by M.B. Srinivasan.

"Watching him work was a revelation. It was because of my interaction with MBS that I learnt that a harmonious blend of the Western and our form of music was possible."

After that Jayachandran began to work as assistant to G. Devarajan.

Into the world of films

"I still remember the day when master asked me to conduct the music for a film song at Tharangini studio for the first time. With trembling hands, I put on the headphones. Through the headphones, a soft yet resonating voice said `Are you ready?'

"It was K.J. Jesudas! The song was `Maghamasam malikapoove' in the film `Ente Ponnuthamburan.' There is no one to surpass K.J. Jesudas when it comes to expression," he maintains.

Among the new singers, Madhu Balakrishnan and Afsal are talented, Jayachandran opines. Rimi Tomy is a natural singer who could improve considerably with proper training, he adds.

Hit formula

"I have enjoyed composing some `adipoli' songs like `Hello Mr. Romeo,' `Pineapple penne,' `Kalla kall' and so on. When I hear a hit song like `Lajjavathiye' I try to analyse why it has become popular. Taking into account the elements, I have tried to evolve a formula for a hit song. Sometimes I resort to that formula," Jayachandran admits.

On the allegation that he is imitating from the past masters, Jayachandran says that he has been inspired by the great music directors.

"It is wrong to say that I have copied the tunes. Getting inspiration and copying should be seen as quite different things. Since there are only seven notes, the raga chaya might be repeated," he asserts.

* * *

Director's choice

M. Jayachandran's popular music albums include `Ormakkai,' `Ninakkai,' `Swantham,' and `Eniennum.' More than two lakh cassettes of the album `Ormakkai' were sold. At present, he is composing the music for `Bus Conductor,' `Boyyfriennd,' `Mahasamudram' and `Kanal.'

Here is Jayachandran's list of favourites...

Music director: Ilayaraja

Classical Carnatic vocalist: M. Balamuralikrishna

Hindustani vocalist: Rashid Khan

Singer: K.J. Jesudas

Pop singer: Elton John

Pop music: Michael Jackson's `They Don't Care About Us' and `Heal the World.'

Western classical: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Song: There are many. But if I had to choose one, it would be `Arukil nee undayirunnengil' from `Nee Ethra Dhanya.' Lyrics are by O.N.V. Kurup and music composer is G. Devarajan.

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