A siren for change: Angane by Divya S Menon


While 'Angane', the latest song by Divya S Menon, begin with the familiar tones of Carnatic music, it won't take long for the listener to notice that this song is special.

It is special. Weaved in the auspicious surutti raga, the song had been designed “to speak about all things relevant to today's women”. An independent release of the playback singer who has worked in the industry for over a decade, Angane comes as a welcome relief in this politically charged Kerala environment and is an ode to the troubles women face. The song, however, is not one that is brooding, but is in fact a call for equality, a siren for hope.

The inspiration for the song came when Divya had gone to see the Kathakali performance of renowned artist, Sasikala, who is also her aunt. She noticed that in Kathakali women characters have very small roles to play. On enquiring with her aunt, she learned that there were in fact very few stories that puts women in a prominent space. It has always been so and not just with Kathakali. Hoping to remedy this, Divya decided to make a track that would get people to take more notice of the many everyday sacrifices and contributions of women.

She began work with music composer Mithun Jayaraj and lyricist B K Harinarayanan. Her initial thoughts were to have a video put together based on Kathakali 'padams' but later decided against it as any alterations to them is likely to draw much ire because of their divine associations. It was Harinarayanan who insisted that for the song to resonate with a larger audience, it must be kept simple. The only Kathakali term used in the final song was Angane, which means women.

Unlike how we do most music these days, it was lyrics that came first in this collaboration. “Hari chetan took less than fifteen minutes to write this lyric. It was incredible! It was so perfect from the first draft that there were no more revisions to be made. We were so awed. We used it in the final recording.”

Mithun weaved music around the lyrics with great care so as to not inhibit the deep social message of the song. They also worked to get pleasant tones in the music so that it evokes excitement and change. “The lyrics did not follow your conventional patterns and so it must have been difficult putting the music in after, but Mithun made it look effortless,” Divya added. To compliment it all was the video, put together by Vishnu Udayan and his team, with focus lingering on the female Kathakali artist, again played by her aunt.

In all, it took Divya and team two months to finish the whole song including the shooting. Though they had planned to release it on Women's Day, it took a few more days than planned for. Now out, Divya hopes that the song would be a catalyst for change in our society, and that traditions could change, if not to the war drums then perhaps to the soothing Carnatic music.

Born in Thrissur to Mr Soman Kurup, a mechanical engineer, and his wife Meena Soman, Divya was introduced to the world of music as a child and started singing at an early age of seven. A trained Carnatic musician, Divya has been singing professionally for over a decade now. Her list includes movies like Thattathin Marayathu, Bangalore Days, Kali, Charlie and many others.

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