Mohan Sithara bags the Kerala State Film Award for Best Music Director.
After 25 years of directing music, Mohan Sithara finally gets his due. The musician has bagged the Kerala State Film Award for the Best Music Director (2009). “The award is long overdue; I'm glad it's finally arrived,” says the man whose tune, ‘Thekkini Kolayile' in Priyanandan's ‘Sufi Paranja Kadha' won him the award.
“The credit is not all mine though. There is a whole team behind the success of a film song. There's lyricist Rafeeq Ahmed who put words to my music, singers K.S. Chitra and Latha Krishnan who breathed life to the words and music, cinematographer K.G. Jayan who picturised my music… And of course I must thank the director and producer for choosing me for their project.”
It was his late brother, Subramanian, says Mohan, who pushed him into learning music. “He saw a musical spark in me and enrolled me in music classes. K.G. Sathar, a neighbour, was my guru. He taught me the violin and Hindustani music. Although I wasn't fond of the violin in the beginning, as I played on I developed a fondness which soon turned into a passion,” says Mohan.
His entry into Mollywood's music industry was with the song ‘Raree Rareeram Raro' from Navodaya's ‘Onnu Muthal Poojyam Vare.' The song was a hit.
“It was T.K. Rajeev Kumar Sir who suggested my name to Navodaya. Rajeev Sir heard me while I was helping out at Yesudas' Tharanginisari School of Music. My brother was working there as a sitar teacher. Although I had never composed music in my life, the producers at Navodaya handed me a harmonium and asked me to compose a tune after narrating the scene behind the song. That was how ‘Raree…' happened.
“Even now I don't know how music to my songs appears. Notes float in my head and they go on to music sheets. I don't compose a piece of music with it being a super hit in mind,” says the man who claims he sleeps, thinks and dreams music.
He says with a chuckle: “Even as I'm talking to you pieces of music come floating in my mind.”
Melodies are his favourite, he says. “Malayalis, I feel, enjoy melodic tunes. Even if it is an adipoli song they want a melody to it. Something they can hum along too. Also, melody is what I feel makes a song memorable. Take ‘Karuppinazhagu' from ‘Swapnakodu' for instance. If I hadn't added a melody to it and just put in beats, it wouldn't have lasted so long. The song is still a favourite amongst many.”
Despite the number of years in the industry, Mohan claims he is still a student of music. “Music is such a large field that no one can know it fully. I make it a point to listen to the works of all musicians as you may learn something from them,” says the musician who admits that the reason most of his songs have a Western flavour is because his children are fond of Western music.
Being keyed in
“One has to be in tune with what's in with the youngsters. East meets West seems to be the ‘in' thing today so I give them that. However, one does have to look at the situation in the movie. The music has to blend with the scenes of the movie.
“For instance, I have used a Carnatic touch for ‘Thekkini Kolayile' and a mix of Hindustani and Carnatic for ‘Sayam Sandhya' in ‘Sufi Paranja Kadha' as the movie demanded such a flavour. ‘Rakshashi' in ‘Nammal' however needed an adipoli touch to the song as it dealt with youth on campus,” says this Thrissur-based music director who delivered hit songs in movies such as ‘Ishtam,' ‘Hridayathil Sookshikkan,' ‘Kazcha,' ‘Raapakal' and ‘Thanmathra.'
The 49-year-old musician is now set to deliver more melodies in upcoming movies such as ‘Oradathu Oru Postman' and ‘Nallavan.'