How did the independent Malayalam music scene fare in 2021?

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As the entertainment industry entered recovery mode in 2021 after a 2020 pandemic, Malayalam’s indie music scene saw productions with distinct soundscapes. The first part of the year was marked by rap and hip-hop. There were also experimental projects, such as mixing carnatic and symphony orchestra music, medley and rap, EDM and regional folk … Some songs went viral because of the lyrics and the presentation. eye-catching.

Rap and roll

Like 2020, rappers were on a roll this year too. Kochi Music Foundation (KMF) organized ‘Para’ (Say), a digital hip-hop music festival that brought together MC Cooper, Vedan, Street Academics, Fejo, Blesslee, Aditi Nair (Rap Kid), Marthyan, Irfana Hameed, Manushyar, Neeraj Madhav (NJ), ABI, Indulekha Warrier and Vaishnavi Avees (Vivzy).

A photo from the 'One Under the Sun' video

One Under the Sun, one of the first releases of the year, had a mix of melody and rap in the voices of James Thakara, founder of the group Thakara, and Vedan (Hirandas Murali), who rose to fame with his song, ‘Voice without a voice’. Written and composed by Akhil Ramachandran, the song rooted for equality and questions prejudices in society.

The style rubbed off on composer Bijibal and he and lyricist BK Harinarayanan composed ‘Vithu’, a song dedicated to farmers protesting the Central Farmers Bill.

Notable remarks

The year was marked by many landmark projects. Renuka Arun brought together Carnatic music and the symphony orchestra for her production “Maruthai” which denounces the abuse of women and children. For the music video featuring Mitra Visvesh, the singer-songwriter worked with the Macedonian Symphony Orchestra of Fames.

The album

Varkey’s ‘Chiri Paatu’ (Arun Varghese), revolving around friendship, mixes EDM and regional folk. The music video was directed by Goutham Soorya.

Varkey (Arun Varghese)

The vibes of well-being were at the rendezvous in the musical “Made in Heaven – Kanmani” by the combo Shaan Rahman-Benny Dayal. Directed as a short film by actor Noble B Thomas, it told the story of a woman who takes her boyfriend home to meet her parents.

It was a chocolate cake that took center stage in the music video “Thonnal”, starring and directed by Ahaana Krishna. The melody was composed by Govind Vasantha and sung by Haniya Nafisa, who has become a sensation with several covers posted on social media. The experiment was also on display; case in point It was a blue moon by Pina Colada Blues aka Kevin Shaji.

Ahaana Krishna in 'Thonnal' music video, which she also directed

Ahaana Krishna in ‘Thonnal’ Music Video, which she also directed | Photo credit: Special arrangement

On the indie track

Several singers have offered independent productions. Sooraj Santhosh released ‘Harinamakeerthanam’ from his independent album, The gypsy sun. He made verses of Harinamakerthanam, a philosophical text in Malayalam by Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan, the father of modern Malayalam literature. Sithara Krishnakumar has had two major releases – “Arutharuthu”, a production by her group Project Malabaricus, and “Tharuni”, a dance musical composed by Mithun Jayaraj. While “Arutharuthu” is a call for the preservation of the environment, “Tharuni” is aimed at women. This saw Sithara revert to her days as a ballet dancer.

Gowry Lekshmi

Gowri Lekshmi launched the Carnatic musical series Rathnamala, an EP with four songs composed of both classical and semi-classical songs. The singer-songwriter also made history by becoming the first Malayali musician to embark on the NFT platform, in which she released a few songs.

While Jyotsna was releasing “Senorita”, a melody written and sung by her, playback singer KS Harishankar sang in a few independent productions, including “Oblivion” for Ashwin Renju, “Kanmoodi Paarthal” (Sam Simon George), “Dhoore” (Mithun Mohan) and ‘Vaarkadal’ (The Non-Violinist Project).

Surprise shots

Ashwin Bhaskar (right) and KP Naisal.  Ashwin released a video

Ashwin Bhaskar (right) and KP Naisal. Ashwin released a ‘dialogue with rhythms’ video, ‘Perfect OK’ with dialogue by Naisal | Photo credit: Special arrangement

The unusual content has gained attention this year. Like the dialogue-with-beat video by Ashwin Bhaskar, sound engineer, composer and music producer. His “song” “Perfect Ok” had beats mixed with dialogue from a video of KP Naisal, a rickshaw driver, and garnered over 13 million views. Another musician who went viral was Karthik Krishnan aka The Humble Musician, a vlogger-musician whose song “Aanayaal karayalle pennayaal kuniyalle” challenged gender roles.


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