Singer Sayanora Philip on composing music for ‘Aaha’ and what it means to her

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While composing the duet, Thandodinja Thamara… for Aaha, due for release in April, singer, composer and songwriter Sayanora Philip sang the song with dummy lyrics. Later, she sent it to Vijay Yesudas as she wanted Vijay to be the male voice. For the female voice, she thought of either Soumya Ramakrishnan or Sithara Krishnakumar.

“Das [Yesudas] Uncle heard the song and asked Vijay who was going to sing along with him. When he told uncle that it would be either of these two singers. Das Uncle told him, ‘Tell Saya [Sayanora] that she should sing it. No one else should’,” says Sayanora.

Until then, she had not thought about singing a melody, although she has crooned two melodies in CIA and Rani Padmini. Usually she is not the first choice of composers for melodies because of her distinct voice, she says. Besides, she was not keen on singing, having composed composed and written the song, “It would look like I was doing everything. I wanted someone else to sing,” she says, adding that the number has a distinct vintage sound.

“I wanted Vijay to sing for that reason — to bring back the nostalgia of Das Uncle’s voice of the old days.” This song came out of a space of pure love, she says. “Composing is not a ritual for me… it is divine.”

She is excited about how the film’s four songs have come out. Each song has a different mood, including a traditional Christian wedding song and a hip-hop number by rapper A.B.I (Abhijith Gopinadh) , besides the title track sung by Arjun Ashokan.

“The theme song had to be high energy, as the film is about vadamvali (tug of war) teams, which is a show of power and strength. That Arjun used to be a DJ worked for the song. It is a rock-inspired song…I wanted a Vishal Dadlani-type of singer, and Arjun delivered.”

Ahaa is not her first time as composer; she has previously composed for Kuttanpillayude Sivarathri and for a song in Soumya Sadanandan’s Mangalyam Thanthunanena. When Kuttanpillayude Sivarathri director Jean Markose approached her, she was sceptical. “How many women music directors are there in mainstream cinema? It was not my dream because it didn’t exist.”

However, after some convincing by Markose, she agreed. “He [Markose] had heard my songs and he said, ‘Songs need a soul’. I looked at it as an opportunity and did my homework.”

When she took it up, she was warned by her well-wishers and friends. “They told me not to get into it because I wouldn’t be called to sing by other composers. I refused to be demotivated,” she says, adding, “It was my choice…it made a difference.” The film gave her confidence for the projects that followed. Sayanora is currently working on her solo albums, besides having recently sung for Rajeev Ravi’s Thuramukham.

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