For the love of Reggae

Something to smile about: Jassie gift.  

HIS SONGS have topped the popularity charts of Malayalam moviedom. His recent stage shows in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were a success. Film offers are coming thick and fast. But singer, Jassie Gift, says he is not sure how long his popularity or that of his ethno-folk songs, will last.

This is perhaps why the singer, who was virtually unheard of till the other day, has chosen to play it safe by deciding to stick to the Reggae-Rap style of songs he is most comfortable with for his future albums.

Talking to presspersons at the Kesari Memorial Hall at Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, Jassie narrated the story behind the success of `Lajjavathiye...'.

At the beginning itself, the location for picturising the song— the languid backwaters of Kuttanad— had been fixed.

"Jayaraj, the director of the movie, `4 The People', wanted me to sing all the songs in the movie. When I sang the track and the picturisation commenced, he decided that my voice would be there for the final version also," Jassie explained. Did anybody object to his style of singing or the mixing of languages in `Lajjavathiye...'? "No", says Jassie, "in fact, Kaithappram was very supportive and so was everyone who was associated with the movie."

Jassie said he started singing the way he does after listening to a lot of Jamaican Reggae music. When he found that his voice and the moods that he was trying to create through his songs found their best expression through a reggae-type song, he started singing that way.

"Now, after `Lajjavathiye...', people have told me that the melody, rhythm and mood of the song resembles that of the songs from the 70's and 80's. I am also very much attracted to the music of Ilayaraja and I do deliberately try to follow that style,' he said. But then, Jassie is working on `soft' numbers for director, Ashok R. Nath's upcoming film `December'. At the moment, however, he is not all that particular about a career as a playback singer. He says he is hoping to put together a band and then cut an album or two.

Not many press conferences end with a song. But this one did, with Jassie humming "Lajjavathiye..." to a roomful of journalists.

By G. Mahadevan

Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar