Songs at the end.
Kambhoji’s soundtrack features the final songs that veteran poet-lyricist O N V Kurup wrote before his passing. And composer M Jayachandran doesn’t waste those words, crafting three neat songs out of them. Shruthi Cherumo is composed in the raga the movie is named after (the soundtrack understandably has multiple songs based in kambhoji raga) and has Yesudas on vocals. The arrangement that takes one back to the 90s features some lovely veena and flute. Nadavaathil doesn’t have a particularly charming melody, but the arrangement and Chithra’s singing make the song work. Chenthar Nermukhi is best of the three songs, and indeed best of the soundtrack! A delightfully constructed ragamalika (surutti, kamas, saveri, shanmukhapriya, begada the ragas) that Chithra does a top notch rendition of along with an equally competent Sreevalsan J Menon (who incidentally composed a similarly themed dance musical Swapaanam two years back), while the backdrop is replete with kathakali sangeetham elements that add to the song’s charm. Movie’s director Vinod Mankara pens the song Anguli Sparsham, a song the composer largely bases on the raga ahiri, one that is rarely used in movies (the last one was again by MJ for the movie Rathi Nirvedham, the most famous song would be pazham thamizh/oru murai from Manichithrathaazhu). Composer gets Carnatic doyenne Bombay Jayashree for this one, and her singing is a perfect fit for the song’s mellow tone. Some excellent violins in the arrangement; the first interlude being a high point.
Rest of the songs are all set around traditional lyrics. M Jayachandran lets Bombay Jayashree deliver Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s behag-based Irakkam Varaamal with just a tanpura for backing, and it is a delight to hear the lady here. Similar treatment is given to the female version of Irayimman Thampi’s Harinakshi. Here it is young Carnatic singer N J Nandini who does a freeform rendition, and quite commendably so. The song works better in the male version however as it is orchestrated as a kathakali padham that the song is. Sopaana sangeetham exponent Kottakkal Madhu is the lead singer here and he has little difficulty delivering this with finesse. The tune remains largely same in both versions, based in the raga kambhoji. Nandini does a similar solo act with Unnayi Warrier’s Olivil Undo as well, the composer retaining the song’s original tune (bhairavi-based, as per the internet, but there seems to be some kharaharapriya as well). The final song which also comes from Unnayi Warrier’s Nalacharitham is sung by Kalanilayam Sinu and this is the only song that doesn’t really work. With no orchestration here either, the song depends entirely on the singing which isn’t effective.
Kaliyachan last year. Swapaanam the year before that (And Nadan and Ivan Megharoopan in the years before, though not strictly based on the similar themes). Good to see at least one movie focusing on Kerala’s traditional arts/music come out every year. After Sreevalsan J Menon and Bijibal, M Jayachandran delivers an excellent soundtrack in Kambhoji. So good to see the composer go all out with classical, not many remain in Malayalam who are capable of pulling that off.
Music Aloud Rating: 4/5
Top Recos: Chenthar Nermukhi, Anguli Sparsham, Shruthi Cherumo, Irakkam Varaamal