Prashant Pillai is one composer who keeps experimenting with his music. He does not shy away from trying out new voices and sounds for his albums and that makes him the perfect combination to work with filmmaker Lijo Jose Pellissery who goes from one genre to another with his films.
After the very thematic soundtrack Prashant made for Lijo’s 2015 film Double Barrel, they’ve teamed up again for Angamaly Diaries, which marks the writing debut of actor Chemban Vinod Jose. Audience are curious to know what Lijo and crew has to offer this time and the one fact that the movie’s all actors are new faces (86 of them - whoa!) itself makes it a film to watch out for.
Read also: 'Angamaly Diaries': what to expect from Lijo Jose Pellissery movie
The album has nine songs, out of which five are different versions of one song – that’s a first in at least Malayalam cinema, I am very sure. However, the songs are of brief duration; the lengthiest one is of 3 minutes and 49 seconds.
Let’s hear them.
Angamaly (Singers: Angamaly Pranchi. Chorus: Febin Paulose, Joy Chirakal. Lyrics: Traditional)
The album has three traditional songs which are about Angamaly, its culture and language. Prashant Pillai reworked on them for the movie and the track titled Angamaly is the first one of them. The song gets to business right away, with a heady mix of brass band that we hear at church festivals in Kerala laying the platform. The tune is simple and yet, captivating. The composer has used the vocals of Angamaly Pranchi, an elderly singer who has been rendering these songs in and around the area for decades, and two of his chorus singers from the same locality. Their earthy rendition and Prashant’s neat arrangement makes the end product super-catchy.
Ayalathe (Singers: Shreekumar Vakkiyil. Lyrics: P.S. Rafeeque)
The song stars with an interesting narrative by its lead actor Antony Varghese and Prashant follows it up with a unique set of sounds that craftily include the knocking sound on a door and even the hizz sound from a hot pan. A lovely combination of Rajesh Cherthala’s flutes and Prakash Ulleri’s harmonium take us to Shreekumar’s emotive vocals which fit the song’s mood to a T. And the natural sounds stay throughout the song, without hindering the melody. Ayalathe is brief, but exquisite.
Theeyame (Singers: Angamaly Pranchi, Shreekumar Vakkiyil. Lyrics: Traditional)
Prashant does not try anything out of the box here and keeps the essence of the traditional song intact, giving us a wonderful listening experience. He lets Pranchi lead the song in the singer’s natural style and compliments it with minimal orchestration that is headed by Sunil’s percussion and Ulleri’s harmonium. The short portion where Shreekumar goes ‘Theeyame’ is a delight. This one too gets a thumbs-up.
Thana Dhina (Singers: Angamaly Pranchi. Chorus: Febin Paulose, Joy Chirakal. Lyrics: Traditional)
Thana Dhina, the last traditional song of the album, is Pranchi and Co. in top form, again. The singing is raw & peppy and the clarinet-layered percussion makes us tap our feet in rhythm. An exhilarating mixture of Chenda with horns draws an apt end to this spirited song.
Do Naina X 5
The five versions of Do Naina are almost the same – two of them have Hindi lyrics, written by Prashant’s sister and singer Preethi Pillai. Shreekumar sings the male version and Preethi the female version. With Malayalam lyrics, written by P.S. Rafeeque, the song title gets changed to La Vettam. Again, we’ve a Shreekumar version and a Preethi version. There is also a trailer version, sung by Shreekumar.
The good news is that this song is a gem. It has minimal orchestra backing the singer – piano keys and a combination of ukuelele & mandolin, both played by Sandeep. The instruments are of Western origin and they beautifully back the song. The singers – Shreekumar and Preethi – breathe soul into it with their feathery rendition. Give it a listen; you will be humming this blissful tune soon.
And, the bad news is that the song is just of 1 minute and 16 seconds – all the five versions are of equal duration.
Angamaly Diaries comes with the tagline ‘Katta Local’ (extreme local) and Prashant Pillai has yet again delivered, sticking to the movie’s narrative. He picked up three traditional songs and reproduced them effectively, without damaging their spirit. The other songs reaffirm the quality and technical brilliance he brings onboard for his music and the tag that he enjoys – that he is a director’s trusted movie composer.
Do Naina is surely Onmanorama’s pick from the album, followed by Ayalathe and Theeyame.
Onmanorama rating: 4 out of 5
All songs arranged and programmed by: Prashant Pillai
Chief assistant and additional programmer: Sreerag Saji
All songs mixed and mastered by: Hari Shankar
Vocal supervisor for songs 1, 3 & 4 and additional programming for song 4: Sankar Sharma
Additional rhythm arranger: Shreekumar Vakkiyil
Musicians’ coordinator (Angamaly Pranchi): Anson Antony
Saxophone, clarinet, pan flutes: Rajesh Cherthala
Drums, percussions: Sunil
Harmonium: Prakash Ulleri
Ukelele, mandolin: Sandeep
Recording engineers: Sai Prakash, Praveen Iyer, Robin Raphael, Denson Davis
Studio: My Studio, Kochi; Praveen Iyer's Home Studio, Thrissur; Tunes Recording Digital, Chalakudy