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Midas touch in music

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Chat Jassie Gift talks about his upcoming works, his music and more

Style of his ownJassie GiftPhoto: S. Gopakumar
Style of his ownJassie GiftPhoto: S. Gopakumar

J assie Gift is a man with a Midas touch in music. If his Lajjavathiye was a chartbuster, the songs that followed such as Thattum Muttum Thalam ( Puthiya Mugham), Sevvanam Selaikatti ( Mozhi), Randakka, Randakka ( Anniyan) and Ole Ole ( In Ghost House Inn) were not damp squids either. After a hiatus from Mollywood, the musician is back with songs for Chinatown and Seniors. Excerpts from an interview with Jassie.

Musically inclined

I was always inclined towards music. I learnt to play the piano when I was a kid. While in college, I was part of a band. In fact, my band used to perform in hotels in and around the city – South Park and ITDC (currently The Leela, Kovalam).

I was mostly into Western music, Bob Marley being a favourite as I felt my voice was best suited for his kind of music. My band released an album called Suna, Suna, Suna, which filmmaker Jayaraj sir heard and liked. He roped me into his Hindi movie Bheebhatsa, in which I did the background score. The music for Jayaraj sir's film 4 the People capitulated me to fame.

East meets West

I was lucky Jayaraj sir was open to new ideas in 4 the People. And so, Lajjavathiye had a blend of East and West which was unusual for its time. However, Malayalis, although open to music, need a tune that is not too alien to them; it has to be something they can hum to. So, when experimenting with Mollywood music, you have to be sure it is within a certain framework.

Rhythm divine

I doubt if Lajjavathiye would have been a hit now as the youth of today are exposed to a wide variety of music. It was a hit then, because it was something new yet familiar. Most of today's songs are technically high but lack soul as today's composers' focus on making their music technically perfect. You can't really blame them as they have to strive to keep themselves on par with music trends.

For me, the soul of a piece of music is its rhythm. Also, the tune must be simple. A song that clicks with the masses can make even a dud of a movie run for days. And so, although Mollywood is growing, few producers are willing to take risks when it comes to songs. That is why they try to stay clear of experimentation in music as far as possible and it is also a reason why there is a decrease in the number of songs in movies.

But things are changing with Gen-X moving in; producers are gradually open to change. Kollywood is more open to experimentation in music and is rhythm-oriented, Tollywood is mostly commercial music for the masses and as for the Kannada movie industry, it is mostly melodies.

The right voice

Well, the industry is open to new voices but I don't feel any of the young generation singers have what it takes to make it to the top. That is because most of them have had it easy, they haven't had to struggle to make it big. As a result, they lack soul when they sing, so unlike the seniors such as Yesudas sir, Chitra chechi and Sujatha chechi. That is why we bring singers from the North into our industry. I have used the voices of Shreya Ghoshal and Sonu Nigam in the Kannada movie Sanju Weds Geetha. It is important to get the right voice for your song as only such a person can breathe life into it.

The singer in him

Although I was hesitant, Jayaraj sir was insistent that I sing for 4 the People. Lajjavathiye was the first Malayalam song I sang. I sing for my compositions only when I feel my voice, which is rather different, will suit the piece of music, character and situation in the movie. I recently sang in Chinatown and Seniors. When other music directors ask me to sing their tunes, I only do so if I feel it suits my vocals. I have sung for Vidyasagar sir, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Harris Jayaraj, M.G. Sreekumar…

Upcoming music

Well, there is Chandrasekharan's Achante Aanmakal in Malayalam and Advithan's Pallikondapuram in Tamil.

Thesis

I am planning to submit a thesis on ‘Indian philosophy concept of harmony with reference to Advaita and Buddhism,' shortly. I will hopefully get my doctorate in November.

Liza George

For me, the soul of a piece of music is its rhythm

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