As 2016 comes to a close, there are familiar rumblings in the Malayalam film world about new film releases with the distributors, producers and theatre owners slugging it out leading to no releases on a Christmas weekend! This is a familiar scenario for Malayalam cinema buffs but let’s hope this perennial bickering gives way to new releases waiting to hit the road, for an industry which has perked up a bit recently in the mainstream space. Meanwhile, I decided to spend time to look at the audio tracks this year and see how they stack up.
*** Before I start, just a quick disclaimer – I lend a keen ear to Malayalam songs but have no knowledge of music in any way, so this is just my personal favourite listing of the top 20 tracks of films released in 2016. Also, I have tried to condense the selection to only one song per film to cover a larger breath of the audio scene this year.
2015 was a fabulous year for Malayalam music with the likes of Premam, Ennum Ninte Moideen and Charlie but I cannot really place any track this year as that real outstanding stand out album that would have kept me glued for a long time. This is not to suggest that we did not have great music this year but in comparison to last year, I think this list definitely falls short. The large pool of musicians and singers has also democratized the audio scene to a great extent, so the sounds you hear are quite numerous and varying in nature. While the earlier generations have hibernated, P Jayachandran and MG Sreekumar still managed to make an impact this year, as the new generation stayed on top. Curiously, last year’s topper – Bijibal, who started with the fantastic ‘Maheshinte Prathikaaram’ went quiet after that and had a very limited presence and Shaan Rahman was probably the winner this year with 3-4 tracks topping the charts. Also, despite Vijay Yesudas’ excellent year last year, there were many others taking on the lead this year, namely Haricharan and Vineeth Sreenivasan. 2016 also saw a lot of musical debuts like Vishnu Vijay (Guppy), Sooraj S Kurup (Valleem Thetti Pulleem Thetti), Sachin Warrier (Aanandam) and the trend of multiple film composers for a film (Kismath, Guppy, Kavi Udeshichathu).
Top audio tracks in 2016 (with links to their Jukebox):
- Maheshinte Prathikaaram (https://youtu.be/sJLsgEWGYNA)
- Aanandam (https://youtu.be/wtTdiRLyPFg)
- Jacobinte Swargarajyam (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTtAVUq9000)
- Kismath (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICtdRsEF1WY)
- Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coelho (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH7OjbXDsc8)
My 2016 Top-20 Malayalam Film Songs Listing
[Format – Song (Film): Music Director – Playback Singer – Lyricist]
- Idukki (Maheshinte Prathikaaram): Bijibal – Bijibal – Rafeeq Ahammed
Bijibal delivers in this beautiful monsoon soaking ode to Idukki, made even better by the visual appeal of the video. In this song where you feel the atmosphere, Bijibal leads the vocals, with some excellent harmonic backing from the chorus.
- Thennal Nilavinte (Oru Muthassi Gadha): Shaan Rahman – Vineeth Sreenivasan/Aparna Balamurali-Harinarayanan B.K.
The reliable Shaan Rahman-Vineeth combo works magic in this melody, with a gorgeous violin backdrop, with Aparna Balamurali supporting it suitably. Again, the retro like feel and visuals make it more appealing.
- Pularkalam Pole (Valleem Thetti Pulleem Thetti): Sooraj S Kurup – Haricharan/Madonna Sebastian – Harinarayanan B.K.
Haricharan and Madonna Sebastian rock in this debut composition of Sooraj S Kurup, with a classic fusion of Carnatic music and folk percussion. Pity that the film was quite a damp squib.
- Oonjalilaadi Vanna (Action Hero Biju): Jerry Amaldev – Chinmayi – Santhosh Varma
Veteran music composer Jerry Amaldev returns after 13 years in this retro album, creating this lovely soulful melody by Chinmayi. However, since the makers did not release an official video song, this probably went unnoticed.
- Innaleyum (Kavi Udeshichathu): Vinu Thomas – Arun Alat – Rafeeq Ahammed
A gentle romantic melody that flows beautifully, especially a couple of places where Arun builds the momentum of a crescendo but surprisingly hasn’t really found too many takers.
- Neelakkannulla (Kochavva Paulo Ayyappa Coellho): Shaan Rahman – Vijay Yesudas/Shwetha Mohan – Vayalar Sharath Chandra Verma
A throwback to the 80s melody by Vijay Yesudas and Shweta Mohan, with captivating visuals.
- Payye Veesum Katte (Aanandam): Sachin Warrier – Ashwin Gopakumar /Sneha Warrier – Anu Elizabeth Jose
Singer Sachin Warrier makes his debut in this peppy youthful album. Here Sachin’s sister Sneha Warrier and Ashwin Gopakumar carry out the playful lightness of the film delightfully.
- Ee Khalbitha (IDI): Rahul Raj – Suchith Sureshan – Manu Manjith
Suchith Sureshan pushes the strings nicely with the melodious Ee Khalbitha, another guitar dominated background song that keeps the flow moving.
- Thiruvaavaniraavu (Jacobinte Swargarajyam): Shaan Rahman – Unni Menon/Sithara – Manu Manjith
Unni Menon’s Onam special ‘Thiruvaavaniraavu’ literally creates the nostalgic feel of an Onam at a faraway land and the visuals enhance that feeling. Wonderful to see the underutilized Unni Menon back.
- Kisa Paathiyil (Kismath): Sushin Shyam – Sachin Balu/Suchith Suresan/Sushin Shyam – Anwar Ali
Sushin Shyam (of ‘He will screw you’ fame in ‘Thattathin Marayathu’) makes quite a debut in ‘Kismath’. This is a short but real soulful song, where the haunting instruments dominate the vocals.
- Nila Vanile (Shikhamani): Sudeep Palanad – Vijay Yesudas/Swetha Mohan – Shibu Chakravarthy
A rather under rated song this year and unlikely to be in any of the hit lists, probably for the simple reason, that the film sunk without a trace.
- Thaniye (Guppy): Vishnu Vijay – Sooraj Santosh/Madhuvanthi Narayan – Vinayak Sasikumar
Another debut, this time flautist Vishnu Vijay is the composer. Thaniye starts on a low note, almost a silent whisper and gets Sooraj Santosh to give an energetic push to the higher notes, amidst some nice little guitar music.
- Medapoompattum Chutti (Karinkunnam 6S): Rahul Raj – Najim Arshad – Vinayak Sasikumar
Rahul Raj continues his tryst with melodies with Najim Arshad shining in a low pitch soft melody, with a beautiful strumming guitar guiding the flow of the song.
- Manogatham Bhavan (Anuraga Karikkin Vellam): Prashant Pillai – Haricharan/Mathangi Jagadish – BK Harinarayan
Prashant Pillai pulls of a composition that is flavoured with a fusion of classical and Western music and Mathangi makes quite an impact.
- Minni Chinnum (Kolumittayi): Sreeraj Sahajan – Sreeraj Sahajan – Lakshmi Ennappaadam
Sreeraj Sahajan makes his debut in this children’s film and composes a fine, slow paced melody that bears strains of Malargale (‘Love Birds’). But the romantic nature of the song does not sit in well, with children as the backdrop.
- Chillu Ranthal (Kali): Gopi Sunder – Job Kurian – Harinarayanan B.K.
Gopi Sunder was quite busy in Telugu in 2016 and this was one of his rare tracks in Malayalam. With Job Kurian at the helm, this jazzy song was a special one by Gopi.
- Kathangal Kinavil (Darwinte Parinamam): Sankar Sharma – Haricharan – Harinarayanan BK
Sankar Sharma’s debut has an interesting collection of songs, probably let down by the film makers. Here, Haricharan gives life to Sankar’s nice little tune.
- Kuruthakedinte Koodane (Paavada): Aby Tom Cyriac – Jayasurya – Harinarayanan B K
It is unlikely that you would expect a Jayasurya song to be in any top songs list but he does full justice to this energetic foot tapping drunkard song in the film. The idea of Jayasurya singing for Prithvi was an inspiring one.
- Raavu Maayave (Vettah): Shaan Rahman-Shaan Rahman/Rinu Razak – Manu Manjith, Shaan Johnson
Director Rajesh Pillai’s last film ‘Vettah’ did not live upto expectations but Shaaan Rahman does a top job in this short album, especially in this lovely melody whose Hindi ghazal like lyrics were written by Shaan Johnson (Johnson’s daughter) who passed away a little later.
- Chinnamma Adi (Oppam): 4Musics (Jim Jacob/Biby Mathew/Eldhose Alias/Justin James) – MG Sreekumar – Madhu Vasudevan
MG Sreekumar literally makes a comeback in ‘Oppam’ with who else but Lal in this album composed by a group of young musicians. With a nice naadan percussion driving the song and a Carnatic touch, this is a winner.
- Oru Vela (White): Rahul Raj – Shweta Mohan – Rafeeq Ahammed
- Podimeesa Mulakkana Kaalam (Pa..Va): Anand Madhusoodanan – P Jayachandran – Santosh Verma
- Ee Yathrakal (Oozham): Anil Johnson – Anil Johnson – Santhosh Varma