When the world went into lockdown, Govind Vasantha let his music flow. The composer, who started the year with Jaanu, the Telugu remake of the breakthrough project, 96, has had a long list of releases on OTT platforms, starting with Jyothika-starrer Ponmagal Vandhaal.
Then came Tamil anthology Putham Pudhu Kaalai, and his first Hindi project, Bejoy Nambiar’s Taish. Next up is Suriya’s Deepavali release, Soorarai Pottru (releasing on Amazon Prime on November 12), which has his band Thaikkudam Bridge teaming up with GV Prakash Kumar for a track.
He is also on board Vijay Sethupathi’s Tughlaq Durbar and has already released a track sung by rapper Arivu. The musician is also part of Mani Ratnam’s anthology for Netflix, Navarasa, and choreographer Brinda’s directorial début, Hey Sinamika, starring Dulquer Salmaan and Aditi Rao Hydari. In Malayalam, he has finished Nivin Pauly’s Padavettu and Vijay Sethupathi-Nithya Menen-starrer 19 (1) (a).
“It so happened that the projects came one after the other with the films getting pushed or delayed because of the pandemic. Except for the two anthologies, the rest were already there,” he says.
Although a guest composer in Putham Pudhu Kaalai, the project has been special in that he has worked with Bombay Jayashri for the segment Avarum Naanum-Avalum Naanum. Directed by Gautham Menon, it tells the story of a grandfather and his granddaughter who reluctantly arrives at his home to stay with him during lockdown. “I came into the project through Reshma Ghatala, the writer of the segment. We were working on another OTT project that came to a halt because of the lockdown,” he says.
Music is integral to the storyline. The grandfather and his daughter, a classical singer, are not on talking terms. “Since we don’t see the character, it was important to have a voice that stood out, one that was mature and melancholic with an angelic aura. It had to be a haunting number as well and that is why I decided to go with Jayashri ma’am. I had earlier worked with her in a Malayalam project that didn’t come out. She has sung for me in Hey Sinamika as well,” he says.
The song, ‘Kanna Thoothu Poda’, written by Karky, has minimal arrangement, with a blend of Carnatic and folk elements. “I didn’t want to make it an out-and-out Carnatic track but something on the lines of ‘Padariyen padippariyen…’ [from Sindhubhairavi]. So it starts off as a Carnatic song and slowly shifts to a folksy mood,” says Govind, who has also done the background score of the segment.
However, he is disappointed that the song has not had the reach he hoped for. “That’s the downside of OTT releases. We don’t know whether the audience liked the song or not. Songs too are not promoted as much as in a theatrical release,” he observes.
As for Soorarai Pottru, it was director Sudha Kongara who approached his band to use their song, ‘Urumbu’ in the track, ‘Aagasam’. Govind and Christin Jose, one of the singers of Thaikkudam, have crooned the breezy number. “I am using another song from our band in Hey Sinamika,” he adds.
Govind is thrilled about Padavettu, a multi-genre musical. “I am looking forward for the film and the songs to come out. There are nine tracks and the number might go up. There is rap, folk, classical and other genres. The list of singers include CJ Kuttappan, Sunil Mathai, Shahabaz Aman, Vedan, Annie Amie and a bunch of new singers, including actor Shammi Thilakan and the director [Liju Krishna]!” he says.
While he is tight-lipped about the rasa (emotion) he is handling in Navarasa, which is based on nine emotions, Govind adds that he is looking forward to working with Bejoy again for the segment that features Vijay Sethupathi, Prakash Raj and Revathi. “I am comfortable working with Bejoy, having associated with him earlier in a few projects, including Solo,” he says. He is also working in another Malayalam film getting ready for an OTT release and a couple of projects in Hindi.
Meanwhile, he admits that he cannot wait for live shows to start and perform with his band. “It is disappointing that we couldn’t tour much with our album, Namah,” he says. Looking back at the lockdown days, Govind says that he had a fruitful interaction with fans by posting unplugged versions of some of his favourite tracks on his social media page. “It was a learning experience for me. I realised that most of them prefer bitter-sweet numbers,” he laughs.