Composer SS Thaman: I never predicted the success of Ala Vaikunthapurramloo's Samajavaragamana
The composer discusses his career-defining moment in the showbiz, how his 18-month break from cinema helped, and more
There seems to be a sense of contentment about SS Thaman. Unsurprisingly so, as his latest song Samajavaragamana from Ala Vaikunthapurramloo has been topping the charts for the past few weeks. Written by Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry and sung by Sid Sriram, the song from the Trivikram Srinivas directorial has raked in 100 million views and one million likes to become the only Telugu track to achieve this milestone in such a short span. “It's exciting and I am enjoying this phase," the composer says.
Thaman says he is surprised by the overwhelming response to the melody. “My intention was to compose a good track. Although I was confident that this song would make the team proud, I never predicted a success of this magnitude,” he says adding, “There is a sense of love in the lyrics and it is unlike a typical Trivikram melody. We have followed a different approach and I believe my interactions with Trivikram and Sastry garu helped me give my best. I am now counting on the next two songs from the album.”
Was there any pressure to deliver a hit song? “These days, the promotion of a film begins with the release of the songs. And music enables the audience to instantly connect to the film. Being a composer, I must add a novelty factor. Having said that, I have never faced any pressure as such as all the filmmakers and actors that I have collaborated with until now believe in my abilities.”
On his break from cinema, he says, “The 18-month gap I took right after Sarrainodu helped me discover my latent talent. I made a confident comeback with Mahanubhavudu and Bhaagamathie, but I still yearned for more. Tholi Prema redefined my career and paved way for these exciting times.”
The actor-turned-composer says he has developed certain criteria to sign a project. “Earlier I used to go with the flow, but now I am insisting on a bound script and directors who communicate their ideas effectively. Every script has a feel and it’s important to understand a situation and reflect it in our music,” he shares.
Thaman is happy that his work spans different genres. “Venky Mama is an emotional drama, Prathiroju Pandaage is a romcom, Ala Vaikunthapurramloo is a family entertainer, and Disco Raja is a different film that comes with a non-linear narration. Working in different genres like this helps me rejuvenate myself.”
The musician says that he particularly enjoyed composing Nuvvu Naatho Emannavo (Disco Raja) and Yennallako (Venky Mama), which are slightly off the beaten track. “Music consumption has changed now and only a few songs remain unforgettable. Being an 80s kid, I like Ilaiyaraaja garu and I always enjoy composing retro-style songs as they have subtle elements of sensibility and exude an old-world charm. Such songs enrich a sequence in the films.”
Thaman, who earlier recreated songs like Subhalekha Raasukunna and Chamak Chamak Cham admits that he is no longer interested in remixes. “One day, SP Balasubrahmanyam garu called me to ask the need for remixing a song. I felt bad and realised that it's not a good trend to remix old classics. I understood that we are exploiting what should be a composer/playback singer's legacy without any regard for the original song. Nobody has the right to tamper with the creativity of these great composers and lyricists. Hence, I have decided to stop working on remixes. Even if someone insists I do it, I politely refuse their proposal.”
The young composer says that he is always open to constructive criticism and believes that it will have a positive impact when given and received right. “I often interact with my followers on Twitter. Encouragement is good, but honest feedback will help tap the true potential of an artist. There will be occasions where you receive feedback that is certainly not given with the best intentions. This is evident when you see anonymous comments on your timeline. Even though I might not necessarily agree with everyone, I try to identify if there is any truth to these critiques or the feedback and then I work on those things. Otherwise, I will move on or try and explain why I have a different view of that particular thing,” he candidly says before signing off.