Singers from Kerala are coming up with singles and covers during this lockdown

Singer Anju Joseph with drummer Akhil Babu   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“I have been keeping myself sane with music at my home,” says playback singer Anju Joseph. With stage shows out of the question and movie projects only waiting in the wings due to the pandemic, Anju has been on an “experimental” mode at her residence at Kanjirapally in Kottayam. Recently, she brought out another cover video, this time a groovy take on the song ‘Kari raavin’ from Pranayakalam, featuring drummer Akhil Babu of the band Madras Mail, the first from her new series ‘Pranthu’ on her YouTube channel.

“For the past three years, I ran a series of covers under the rubric SOLO, which stands for Songs on Love on Saturdays as all the tracks were posted on Saturdays. The selections were all soft, sweet numbers. This time, I wanted a change to beat the lockdown blues,” says Anju. Her previous cover was the soothing lullaby ‘Kilukil pambaram’ from Kilukkam, released last week.

This lockdown period, many singers from Kerala have been coming up with covers of popular tracks and indie singles that are gaining traction in social media. With stay-at-home protocols in place, the musicians say they attempt to put the time to good use to create music with minimal resources, often within the four walls of their rooms.

An original number that became the talk of the town for its comic appeal is actor-dancer Neeraj Madhav’s rap song ‘Panipaali’ that was lapped up by netizens. Neeraj also released an EP titled ‘Jungle Speaks’ featuring three songs, all composed during the lockdown period. Singer-composer Gowry Lekshmi came out with the official video of her single ‘Kandittum kanathe’ that features Crishna of the band Masala Coffee. In the music video ‘Kaalam’, part of the Hope series, Job Kurian pays a homage to his great-grandmother whom he never saw in real life.

Some singles touched upon themes directly related to the pandemic, like Thiruvananthapuram-based rock band Thekkan Chronicles ‘Onnayidum Lokam’, an ode to celebrating the spirit of togetherness for humanity in these testing times. ‘Chaavunadappaattu’, which was composed by Dawn Vincent, sung by John P Varkey and written by lyricist Anwar Ali, captures the plight of migrant labourers during the lockdown.

A still from ‘I Miss U Da — Porotta Song'

A still from ‘I Miss U Da — Porotta Song'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

If these tracks endeavour to either send a message or speak about solemn aspects related to the pandemic, musical group Vocal Trio featuring playback singers Zia ul Haq, Sachin Raj and Sudheesh Kumar decided to take a light-hearted look at the “funny side effects” of the lockdown with their ‘I Miss U Da — Porotta Song’. “We wanted to look beyond the doom and gloom (of the pandemic) and felt it would be interesting to express musically how many Malayalis have been missing their favourite porotta. It was also a way to keep our music going,” says Sachin.

Singer Kavya Ajit’s single ‘Naam Onnu (We are One) — A Survival Story’, which premièred on Friday, looks at how Kerala stood strong during the two devastating floods and aims to send the message that the State will tide over the pandemic as well. Kavya also plays the violin for the song. The music video is directed by Vishnu Udayan.


Like Anju, several other artistes took to rendering covers of yesteryear favourites. Actor-singer Remya Nambeesan, known for her frequent dulcet cover renditions, recently brought out her version of ‘Jalashayyayil’ from 2008-film My Mother's Laptop and ‘Kanaka munthirikal’ from the award-winning movie Punaradhivasam.

Aparna Rajeev in a still from her cover of 'Kathiripoo Kanmani'

Aparna Rajeev in a still from her cover of 'Kathiripoo Kanmani'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Another cover that has gained notice is Aparna Rajeev’s ‘Kathiripoo kanmani’, originally crooned by KJ Yesudas and KS Chithra. “I was already planning to do a cover when a production house approached me for their segment called Songberry. The best part was they gave me the freedom to pick a track of my choice,” says Aparna. Calling the number from Krishnagudiyil Oru Pranayakalathu “one of my all-time favourites”, the singer says she chose it as “this is a song that doesn’t often feature in stage shows but is still a hit.” The no-frills music video, which features her two kids, was shot at Aparna’s residence in the capital city.


While many singers borrowed Malayalam chartbusters for covers, Mridula Varier came out with her rendition of the AR Rahman’s Tamil melody ‘Unakkaka’ from the Vijay-starrer Bigil. Shot on phone at her home in Kozhikode, it has her nephew, Aryan Varier, on the piano. “The video was done with limited resources but given the pandemic situation, there’s at least the satisfaction of having done a music work, no matter how small,” says Mridula. The singer is already working on her next cover, ‘Oru mezhuthiriyude’ from Vishudhan.

It’s not just professional artistes who have been keeping themselves busy with music but the aspiring ones too. When music director M Jayachandran invited home-shot versions from young singers of his soulful number ‘Vathikkalu Vellaripravu’ from Sufiyum Sujathayum, he received a flood of responses. The composer, who recently launched his YouTube channel, has been posting select entries on his Facebook page and YouTube channel to appreciate and promote young talents.

If music be the food of life, play on!

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 1:20:59 PM |

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