'Ilaiyaraaja is my primary inspiration'
...says composer PS Jayahari, who makes his debut with Aanenkilum Allenkilum
PS Jayahari is on cloud nine. The talented music composer is making his debut with Aanenkilum Allenkilum, which stars Fahadh Faasil, Catherine Tresa and Sharafudheen in the lead. Shooting has just begun and Jayahari describes the film as a romantic comedy with a strong musical presence.
Although this is the first full-length feature he is working on, he doesn't call it his official debut. "I had worked on the background score for a yet unreleased independent film called My Name is Blood. Due to its extremely dark subject matter, it doesn't have the backing of distributors. And also there was a song that I had written for another purpose, which caught the attention of Mahesh Gopal, the writer of Alamara," he says, adding that the writers of Aanenkilum Allenkilum are his friends. "Through them, Vivek, the director, got to listen to my song. He liked it and thought it would fit in nicely with what he had in mind. Then one fine day, Vivek called me and asked me to work on a small sequence. I did and he liked what I had done. And that’s how it all began."
Jayahari was trained in music from a young age and cites Ilaiyaraaja and AR Rahman as his primary influences. "I was trained in carnatic music under the mentorship of Dr K Omanakutty. I plan to do an MA (correspondence) in carnatic music soon." After he finished his 10th standard, he started learning western music, and became very interested in it. "I was nursing this ambition to be a music composer for a long time. I'm a huge fan of Ilaiyaraaja and Rahman. I can write lyrics in Tamil. In fact, I'm more into Tamil lyrics than Malayalam."
When asked about his western musical influences, he says, "I listen to all kinds of music from all genres, anything that's good. I'm a big fan of John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer, and Howard Shore. Morricone is my biggest inspiration. When it comes to a scene, Morricone does things that are beyond our expectations. You can see a bit of Morricone’s influence in Ilayaraja’s work and even in Johnson’s work." He mentions that when it comes to background scores in Malayalam cinema, Johnson is his biggest influence. "For me, he is the greatest composer in Malayalam. He is unparalleled - there is no one like him today and there was no one like him back then. The background score of Sadayam used to be one of my research topics. I used to refer it a lot," he adds.