Movies are not conceived in isolation. Every aspiring director in Tamil cinema today will harbour memories of watching a Nayagan or a 16 Vayadhiniley on screen; every young actor will speak of how Kamal Haasan and Sivaji Ganesan inspired them; and every aspiring music director will have a favourite Ilaiyaraaja song. Each week, Silverscreen talks to a different celebrity to find the sparks that triggered their creativity – the films, the music, the writing, the photographs and the locations.
Singer Abhay Johpurkar made his debut with Moongil Thottam for Kadal. But, when we asked him about the songs that he cannot stop humming, Abhay chose not to include his first track. “I love it and I certainly have a personal attachment to the song. However, I really cannot talk about my own number…” he laughed. Instead, he listed five songs from Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam, compositions that helped him improve as a musician.
1. Mitwa from Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
“I was in 10th standard when Kabhi Alvinda Naa Kehna released, and heard Mitwa on radio the first time. I fell in love with the track right then. I ran to a store and bought the CD just to listen to Mitwa over and over again. I particularly liked Shafqat Amanat Ali’s rendition. Since then, I always sang Mitwa in all the competitions I participated. My friends even ended up dubbing me Mitwa. I would always pick this track without giving it a second thought, when I am asked about my favourite songs. It’s very special to me.
2. Yedho Yedho from Yenakku 20 Unakku 18 and Udhaya from Udhaya
Yedho Yedho was the first Tamil song I listened to, after moving to Chennai. I was not exposed to south Indian music till then. So, when I heard Yedho Yedho, I found it mind-blowing. Of course, I had listened to Hindi songs of AR Rahman, but this song sounded so amazing. Then, I researched more Tamil songs of AR Rahman, and spent so many days listening to them. Udhaya from the film Udhaya is also very close to my heart. Both songs are based in Charukesi, which is one of my favourite ragas.
3. Pookal Pookum from Madrasapattinam
It’s one of the most beautiful tracks I have ever heard. I love the rendition, composition, arrangement, and the usage of instruments. GV Prakash has done a fabulous job. And, I am a big fan of how Roop Kumar Rathod and Harini have sung this track. In my opinion, it is one of the best tracks of their respective careers.
4. Shalabhamai from Kalimannu
Shalabhamai composed by M Jayachandran and rendered by Shreya Ghoshal was one of the first Malayalam songs I listened to. The track, which is a beautiful melody, is based in the raga Yaman. It is another favourite raga. Perhaps, after discovering Shalabhamai, I began paying more attention to Malayalam songs. Most of them are melody-driven and raga-based, but this one in particular, is soothing and uplifting.
5. Bhaavayami from Meghatheertham
It’s one of the most difficult songs to render. Perhaps, it would take a trained musician to understand the complexity of this song. The track, composed by Sharreth, is an intelligent number. It is about 13 minutes long and absolutely soulful. Of all the songs that I love listening to often, Bhaavayami is a brilliant one.