It is not news that Vidyasagar has a cushioned seat reserved in the minds of Malayalam movie music buffs. Though a non-Malayali, some of his best works are in Malayalam. So, understandably, the audience expects a minimum guarantee soundtrack from him.
Thoppil Joppan, directed by Johny Antony with Mammootty in the lead, is Vidyasagar’s first Malayalam film of 2016. The album has 6 songs, 2 out of which are the same song but sung by different singers.
Chil Chinchilamai... (Singers: Madhu Balakrishnan, Shewta Mohan; Lyrics: Vayalar Sarathchandra Varma)
The pleasant, familiar beats of a Vidyasagar song come to you first and with the singers sounding pitch-perfect, it’s a job well done. Chil Chinchilamai... is a neat new age Vidyasagar melody that has its share of violins, flute, table and techno sounds, all in the right amounts.
Manamilla... (Singer: Benedict Shine; Lyrics: Rafeeq Ahamed)
Rafeeq Ahamed is a class apart when it comes to writing a song on death, remember Maranamethunne Nerathu... in Spirit? He repeats that skilful wordplay in this short track also. Vidyasagar has a new, emotive voice in Benedict Shine for this moody, simple song which strikes the right chords of melancholy in listeners.
Onpathilage... (Singer: Jithin; Lyrics: Nishad Ahamed)
From the fun sound of it, this could be the booze song of the movie. The music director has kept the quirky essence of the lyrics undamaged with his tune and it is a catchy number. Jithin (Jithin Raj) is spot on with his effortless, playful rendition. Onpathilage... is fun, sing-along worthy and full of life.
Poovithalai... (Singer: KS Chithra; Lyrics: Rafeeq Ahamed)
There are two versions of this song – the one sung by Chithra is shorter but is more pensive and she hits the highest notes effectively as violins lay the foundation. After introducing the charming tabla in the anupallavi, Vidyasagar has an interesting guitar-based loop synced in before the charanam. The composer gets the best out of Chithra in this Poovithalai... version.
Thoppil Joppan... (Singer: Niranj Suresh; Lyrics: Nishad Ahmed)
We heard a bit of the title track in the movie's teaser and it was mighty catchy. And the full song turns out to be the best track of the album. Bruce Lee's (oh yes!) electric guitar powers the track and Niranj Suresh packs it with oomph in his rendering. The drums and percussion are fab. Vidyasagar makes things interesting with Trimurthy's nadaswaram and shines full on with the punchy ithaanu kaavya nayakan... Niranj screams it out to end the title track on a high.
Poovithalai... (Singer: Abhirami Ajai; Lyrics: Rafeeq Ahamed)
Vidyasagar puts young singer Abhirami Ajai behind mic for this version of Poovithalai... and she delivers it in fine form. She has a lovely chorus of children in company and the music director nourishes the track with tabla, violins and flute – trademark Vidya stuff here.
Vidyasagar is very much in his comfort zone with Thoppil Joppan even though the songs do not match up to his best works in Malayalam. The impressive title track easily becomes our pick of the album.
Onmanorama rating: 3/5