Working on ‘Malik’ was like telling a story through music, says Sushin Shyam

Composer Sushin Shyam looks at his work in Mahesh Narayanan’s Fahadh-Faasil starrer ‘Malik’

Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik is the talk of the town. While opinion is divided over its theme, viewers seemed to have loved the soundscape. Composer Sushin Shyam is delighted that his effort has paid off. “I felt like telling a story through my music. I worked on the score in the order of the scenes, which doesn’t usually happen, and so the music flowed. Also, I had nearly a year, because of the lockdown and didn’t have any other project then,” says Sushin over phone from Kochi.

Malik narrates the tumultuous life of Ahammad Ali Sulaiman (Fahadh Faasil). “With a range of emotions at play — love, hate, revenge, betrayal — there was little scope for pleasant notes. This is my first project with Mahesh. When I met him after Fahadh told me the story, I immediately forged a connection with him. I was taken by the way he narrated; his only suggestion was not to use too much of electronic music. He wanted the score to be in sync with people and place,” Sushin says.

Composer Sushin Shyam

The musician adds that when a project is offered, he would like to do the background score also. “That brings in totality. Otherwise I feel something amiss,” says the musician. Among his notable works are Sapthamashree Thaskaraha (his debut in background music), Kismath (his first as a composer), Maradona, Varathan, Kumbalangi Nights, Virus, Anjaam Pathira and Kappela.

Sushin adds that the most difficult part of Malik was composing its theme. “If the music of Kumbalangi Nights [which won him the Kerala State Film Award for best music director] was inspired by my trip to Europe, that was not possible during Malik because travel was restricted due to the pandemic. Munnar was the best option for me and so I took off with Mahesh ettan and my fiancé, Uthara. I was able to crack it only after multiple attempts. Once I finalised that, rest of the work was quite smooth. Even though the project’s canvas was large in several ways, I wasn’t weighed down by it,” he says.

A peep into the album

‘Theerame’, a romantic duet sung by KS Chithra and Sooraj Santhosh, is set in Minicoy Island in Lakshadweep. “It isn’t the typical fairytale track because of the incidents that precede the wedding of Ali-Rosaline (Nimisha Sajayan). A reference point for the beginning of the song was the clipping of a wedding song from the islands.”

It also happened to be his first project with Chithra. “We knew she would be able to nail the pitch more than anyone else. During the recording, she made it a point to understand the lyrical context [written by Anwar Ali], which was a learning experience for me as well,” he adds.

‘Raheemun Aleemun’, a meditative melody that plays in the background in the climax, was a last-minute addition. Sufi musician duo of Sameer Binsi and Imam Majboor helped him with the track. Sameer wrote the Arabic lyrics and 10-year-old Hida Chokkad was used as the lead singer, with supporting voices by Imam, Sinan Edakkara and Mithulesh. “There is a spiritual feel to that song and I wanted it in the voice of a kid. It came out really well,” Sushin says. The third track, ‘Aararum kanathe’ is sung by Shahabaz Aman.

He adds that when the release was moved to OTT, sound mixing had to be changed from theatre mix to stereo. “The sound design team had put in a lot of work and it is unfortunate that it was in vain. As for the background score, since the soundscape was meant for the theatre, you would not get the same effect when you watch the film on a laptop or television or any gadget. For example, some base notes weren’t even heard at all,” he points out.

Sushin feels that from now on he will have to see what kind of effect his score produces on digital devices. “We all have been trying to improve our work for a better theatre experience. But that scenario has changed. Now I’ll have to learn the technology to produce better output on other mediums as well,” he adds.

Among his forthcoming projects are Kurup, Malayankunju, Minnal Murali, Bheeshmaparvam and Ennittu Avasanam.

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