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When East meets West

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P.D. Thomas
P.D. Thomas

Staff Reporter

The songs are rooted in Indian raga-based melodies even as their lyrics explore Biblical themes.

Thrissur: East meets West in the sound-track of ‘ Aa Manushyan Nee Thanne' (Thou

art the man), a Malayalam play being staged here by Kalasadan, the cultural wing of the Thrissur Archdiocese.

Six songs composed by P. D. Thomas, one of the leading guitarists in the State, are rooted in Indian raga-based melodies even as their lyrics explore Biblical themes. Choral backing and full-fledged Western orchestration make the raga music fuller and richer.

Two other songs in the play have been composed by Paul Poovathingal. “The theme of the play demands Western tracks. At the same time, the music should have a local feel as the play is being staged to local audiences. Hence, a mix of Indian and Western music was tried. The songs also needed to be in the popular format,” Mr. Thomas says.

To achieve the effect, he used ragas such as Desh, Mohanam, Kambhoji, Pahadi and Keeravani. Effective use of counterpoint accentuated the feel.

The songs have been rendered by Edappal Viswanathan, Sherdeen, T.S. Sreerekha, Reena Murali and Minu Manoharan. Mr. Thomas himself has lent his voice for one.

He was in the limelight recently when he set to tune verses penned by K. G. Sankara Pillai about waste management problems in Lalur. Lending support to the cause, playback singer K. J. Yesudas sang the song.

“Mr. Yesudas offered his services free as he wanted to be a part of the people's movement against the allegedly unscientific garbage disposal at Lalur,” Mr. Thomas said. A staff artiste with All India Radio, he has composed about 100 light songs, some of which have won national recognition. He has scored for several programmes of Doordarsan. He also has to his credit about 500 Christian devotional albums.

He led a choir during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Thrissur.

Mr. Thomas, who joined the Thrissur-based Kalasadan troupe in 1971, has played the guitar for stage shows of K. J. Yesudas, P. Jayachandran, S. P. Balasubramaniam, P. Susheela, S. Janaki, Vani Jayaram, Unni Menon, Krishnachandran, G. Venugopal, K. S. Chitra and Sujatha.

“I have rarely seen a musician as disciplined and committed as Mr. Thomas,” Mr. Unni Menon was quoted as saying.

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