Music director and singer Sharreth has struck gold again, this time with Strawberry Theyyam , a folk album with a Western touch

‘Legend is back’ says a post from composer Sharreth’s Facebook fan page. And what a comeback! His album, Strawberry Theyyam , particularly the song, ‘Kannu karuthu mukham veluthu…’ and its video have gone viral, notching up hits for the composer who has a reputation for composing songs with a firm classical base.

With Strawberry Theyyam , music composer Sharreth proves that he can make music for the classes and the masses. Minimalism is the theme of ‘Kannu karuthu…’, an a cappella number that the singer has crooned, chanted, yodelled and sung with Amrutha Suresh and a chorus of male singers.

One of the nine tracks from Strawberry Theyyam , the song, says Sharreth, is representative of the album that blends folk with Western orchestration. “ I didn’t want it to be just another folk album. Then I thought about using Western backing to it without tampering with the soul of the songs,” he says.

The polyphony of the song is created by harmonious vocals of the chorus as they beat box, clap hands, stamp their feet and move in unison. “A cappella is a style that I had always wanted to experiment with. I had tried it in the title track of June R . In Strawberry Theyyam , it was a challenge for me and the harmony group. In fact, I had to train the group to make those sounds and stamp their feet! Quite tiresome it was,” he says in his trademark witty style, adding with a laugh: “You know what? My manager and sound engineers are also part of the chorus!”

The album happened because of its lyricist Sasikala Menon. “In fact, she had sent the songs long ago and I sat on it for nearly a year. But when she kept calling me, I had to take up the project. All the nine songs were composed in a day,” he explains.

Afsal, Vidhu Prathap, Jyotsna, Nishad, Remya Nambeesan, Pradeep Palluruthy, Jinsha K. Nanu, Seena and Shikha Prabhakar have sung in the album produced by East Coast.

“I’ve worked with Pradeep, Jassie and Afsal for the first time. Pradeep’s voice can catch the soul of a song. As for Jassie, I think his voice has that tone of languor that was needed for the song ‘Poovum parichu,’” he says.

Sharreth is now planning another ambitious project.

“I want to revive the old style of recording where the songs were recorded in one take with the entire orchestra. The songs will have that old world charm. I am waiting for that spark of inspiration.”

He is also composing for T.K. Rajeev Kumar’s The Pregnant King , which has music as a prominent element throughout the movie. Then there are two projects in Tamil and one in Telugu.

“The best thing that happened to me recently is that I have sung six songs for Ilaiayaraaja sir whom I admire a lot...”

What’s in a name?

The album’s quirky title Strawberry Theyyam [KOK–MAC-FOK] was suggested by actor-scriptwriter Anoop Menon. “Theyyam for the folk flavour and Strawberry for the Western elements. As for Kok-Mac-Fok, it has no particular meaning!” says Sharreth.

Waxing lyrical

Sasikala Menon has written lyrics for the likes of G. Devarajan and Raveendran master. After a long break, she wrote the lyrics for devotional albums. “This is my sixth album. I have worked a lot on folk songs, but never got an opportunity to write for movies. The songs in this album are songs of the Adivasis, which I have reworked,” she says. The first number, ‘Kaattil kariyayi…’, is a Ganapathi Sthuti, which, she says, was quite tough to write.

I didn’t want it to be just another folk album. Then I thought about using Western backing