When one debut led to another
Composer PS Jayhari talks about collaborating with Athiran director Vivek and the three songs he composed for the film
When musician PS Jayhari spoke to us last year, he was working on Fahadh Faasil’s Aanenkilum Allenkilum helmed by newcomer Vivek and starring Fahadh Faasil, Catherine Tresa, and Sharaf U Dheen. It was to be Jayhari’s official debut as music composer. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, it was dropped.
Luckily for him, another project, titled Athiran, also directed by Vivek, was green-lit immediately after. Jayhari was retained as music composer along with the leading man and some of the crew members. Ee Ma Yau-writer PF Mathews came on board to construct a screenplay out of a story written by Vivek. As is evident from the promos, music and sound play a big part in the film. Jayhari says he didn’t expect to see his name on the poster and is glad that things have finally worked out. He is now one of the busiest composers in Malayalam cinema, with two other projects awaiting release — Jeemboomba (starring Askar Ali and Baiju) and Pidikittapulli (featuring Sunny Wayne and Ahaana Krishna).
One of the most secretive Malayalam films made in recent memory, Athiran has strong buzz building around it owing to the presence of Fahadh and Sai Pallavi. It is, according to Jayhari, a “very promising and atmospheric psychological thriller.” But that’s all he is willing to divulge. “You won’t believe it when I say this, but I have neither seen the film nor Fahadh,” he laughs, adding, “This is the first time that Mathews has written a fast-paced thriller. I’m waiting to be surprised when I see the film in the theatre.”
Jayhari has composed three songs for the film, each different from the other. The title track, Ee Thazhvara, penned by Engandiyoor Chandrasekharan, came first. It is sung by Jayhari’s friend Amrita Jayakumar and Fejo (who sang the rap portions in Ranam). “Vivek wanted it to have a strong piano presence. I wrote two tunes and he okayed the second one. It was Vivek who gave me the idea to change the tone of the track after two minutes. I didn’t think it would work as I felt the melody would be lost. But then I tried what he said and, to my surprise, it turned out really well. Vivek is very clear about what he wants: he’s got a good musical sense. The entire credit for the track goes to him. “
The second track, written by Vinayak Sasikumar and sung by P Jayachandran, is a lullaby featuring Sai Pallavi as the autistic daughter of Renji Panicker’s character. Gayathri Ayyappadas and Sarayu S Nair provide the female vocals. “This was the toughest to compose,” says Jayhari. “Vivek wanted a simple tune that everyone could sing. I honestly didn’t expect Jayachandran sir to sing a track composed by me. I was so elated.”
The third track, sung by KS Harishankar, a foot-tapping romantic number, will be released soon. For a film with a fast-approaching deadline, the music department had to put in twice the effort to finish the songs in one month — they had to work on three songs simultaneously. Jayhari credits three people — Varkey, Abjaksh, and Dheeraj — for making it possible. The songs were mastered at Australia’s Studio 301 by Steve Smart and Leon Zervos. The former had earlier worked with the popular band Maroon 5 and the latter with singer Rihanna. Abin Paul is the mixing engineer.
Raatsasan-fame Ghibran has composed the background score. “It was his work on Raatsasan that brought Ghibran to Athiran,” says Jayhari. “At first, he didn’t show much interest because he wanted to do the songs as well. But then he saw the rushes and he liked my work, which was a big deal for me.”