Music

Right on track

CHARTING SUCESS Music director Gopi Sundar   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Spontaneity appears to be Gopi Sundar's key to success. “Almost all the songs that I have ever composed have come to me spontaneously, at the oddest of times – while I was sipping hot tea after taking a stroll in the rain (“Melle, Melle...” from “Anwar”), while I was relaxing on a couch post-lunch (“Ningalude Maunam...” from “Flash”), while I was recording for another song that had a very different situation (“O…Ponthuvalaay…” from “Ee Adutha Kaalathu” ) ...,” reflects Gopi.

“You can't slot a time and a space and think ‘ok now it's time to sit and compose'. It just doesn't work like that for me. I just go with the flow,” adds the music director, who has been on a creative high in the past few months with all his soundtracks, namely “Casanovva”, “Ee Adutha Kaalathu” (EAK), and “Masters”, topping the music charts. Gopi's background scores for “Mallu Singh”, “Dr. Love”, “Seniors”, and the like have also been hitting the right notes. And now it looks like Gopi has hit the charts running once again with his latest album for “Ustad Hotel”, directed by Anwar Rasheed and starring Dulquar Salmaan and Nithya Menen, which is likely to release in June.

Four songs

Gopi composed four songs for “Ustad Hotel”, three of which were released on FM radio, and all three immediately went viral, especially the thumping “Appangal embadum…” Sung by Anna Katerina Vayalil (a jingle singer who debuted with “Naatil Veetil Roattil Kaattil…” in EAK), “Appangal embadum…” is a quirky reworking of a popular but “very traditional sounding” Mappilapattu song. The other numbers, the breezy “Mel Mel…” sung by Naresh Iyer, and the folksy “Vathilil Aa Vathilil…” sung by Haricharan, too are all the rage. The fourth song, “Subhan'Allah…”, a Sufi-Spanish mix, features in the background score of the movie.

“If the songs are successful, then full credit to Anwar Rasheed's smile! That smile is your undoing. You simply feel like you've got to get more smiles out of him by giving him the best. All thanks to Anwar for setting up the right atmosphere for me to create the songs – he rented a beachfront apartment in Kozhikode, where the movie is set, for me and my team to relax and compose, and to get the feel and flavour of the place. Actually, I couldn't have found a better setting than Kozhikode to inspire me for this particular film that has a very Malabar flavour to it. I was inspired by Moplah food, by college students who gather on the beach every evening to sing old songs, by the mix of the conservative with the modern that defines the city, by the traditional attire of the Muslims there and its contrast with that of the foreigners who visit the city…,” says the Kochi-based composer.

“Anwar also gave me a clean brief about the film. Thanks to him, “Ustad Hotel” is the most fun I had while composing a film,” he adds excitedly, as we laugh over the quirky lyrics for the signature song “Appangal embadum…”

To think that the song was not even part of the original soundtrack! “We had another song in mind for the film, and had even got Manjari to record it. But it just didn't gel with the accompanying visual on screen, of a young woman singing on stage. We were on the lookout for another suitable song when Anwar texted me the opening lines Appangal embadum ottakku chuttammayi/ Ammayi chuttathu marumonukkayi … asking if I could run with it. I was in a recording studio in Chennai composing for a Zandu balm ad when that text came. The tune came spontaneously. Anna too was in a recording studio, and so was Donan Murray, a guitarist, and we just went with it,” recalls Gopi.

Similarly, “Mel Mel...” also came to him “spontaneously” while sitting on the balcony of the apartment, buffeted by the sea breeze. “I felt like I was flying. The lyrics of the song (by Rafeeq Ahmed) describe two birds trying to build a nest and I was immediately inspired,” explains the music director, who hit the limelight with his tunes for “Sagar Alias Jacky” (2009), after debuting with the largely forgettable “Flash” (2007).

“Actually, even before “Sagar Alias Jacky” I had composed “Casanovva”. The soundtrack was completed some five years ago,” says Gopi, catching us off guard because the songs in “Casanovva” sound so contemporary. “Gone are the days when the merit of a song was measured by the success of the movie. As it is with anything, if you have tuned your song well, it will be appreciated whenever it is released, especially now that FM stations and television channels are there ensure that it reaches the audience,” says Gopi, suddenly appearing distracted. Perhaps, there is a tune coming...


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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 3:38:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/right-on-track/article3452005.ece

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