Despite major rumblings in the Malayalam cinema industry in the form of Dileep’s actress assault case and incidents of online trolling of women actresses highlighting the rampant misogyny in our artistic space, I’d like to believe that it emerged stronger with more and more people debating the patriarchal nature of our cinema. It was, therefore, appropriate that 2017 closed with Aashiq Abu’s ‘Mayaanadhi’ – a film that spoke for a lot of women by giving its heroine agency. However, be cautioned - for every Mahesh Narayanan, Ranjith Shankar and Aashiq Abu creating strong independent woman characters, you also came across the likes of Nithin Renji Panicker (Kasaba) and Omar Lulu (Chunkzz) whose disgustingly trashy films belied the idea that the new generation has a different world view, when it comes to women.
*** Anyway, before I start, just a regular quick disclaimer – I lend a keen ear to Malayalam songs but have no knowledge of music in any way, so this is just my personal listing of the top tracks of films released in 2017. Last year, I had tried to condense the selection to only one song per film to cover a larger breath of the audio scene but I think this is unfair to some of the films with multiple good songs. So, I have expanded my listing to 30 songs, irrespective of the films. I had left out ‘Poomaram’ last year assuming that it would be a 2017 release but with no clear signs of when it will hit the market, I have considered one of its songs this year. Some of the links provided below have the actual film scenes while others have the audio or making video links because the full track is not played in the film (eg - Kilivathilin Chare Nee, Kaatil Ila).
Keeping the normal practice of benchmarking, I reckon that 2017 has seen more exciting music compared to last year. Classical music made a small comeback this year with a few compositions (Pranavakaram, Kasavu Njoriyumoru Pulari, Engane Padendu Njan) dipping themselves into it more than we have seen in recent years – while this cannot be compared to the golden 80s-90s, this is definitely a welcome trend. With a plethora of musicians making their mark, even singers like Vijay Yesudas have become veterans now while P Jayachandran continues to make his presence felt every year in a couple of tracks. P Unnikrishnan was heard in Malayalam after ages with the lovely Ekayaai Nee (Kaattu) which seemed like a more accomplished version of Pichavechu Naal Muthal (Puthiya Mugham). The soothing philosophical voice of Shahbaz Aman in ‘Mayaanadhi’ after a long time was also great news. Prithviraj made not have tasted a lot of success this year but he surprised everyone with a lovely song Arikil Ini Njaan Varaam (Adam Joan).
Bijibal was prolifically consistent with 7 of his scores making their way to the top of the charts while Shaan Rahman’s foot-tapping ‘Jimmiki Kammal’ turned out to be the ultimate numero uno song, cutting across language barriers and inspiring innumerable dance videos. Rex Vijayan made a strong impact this year with ‘Parava’ and ‘Mayaanadhi’ while Gopi Sundar had a smashing return to Malayalam with the track of the year - ‘Udaharnam Sujatha’. Justin Varghese was the debutant composer of the year with the quirkily melodious numbers of ‘Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela’. Considering how crowded the music space has now become, some composers who made a mark last year were conspicuously missing this year – Sachin Warrier (‘Anandam’), Vishnu Vijay (‘Guppy’) etc. There were films which had great music but did not carry far because the films tanked at the box office (Cappuccino, Matchbox).Solo was the single largest experimental genre-defining audio track this year traversing multiple genres, languages and composers. So, you have music ranging from the hard rock version of Aigiri Nandini, the infectiously catchy Roshomon to the classical fusion of Sita Kalyanam and Sajan More Ghar Aaye - the songs are heavy on music overshadowing the singers and I was confused on how to rate the track but for the sheer audacity of its music, it has to find itself on the podium. Probably because I listen to music primarily on a blue tooth speaker, I normally need more clarity on the vocals and the acoustics were too overwhelming for me, making it difficult for me to short list songs of Solo in my list.
Top audio tracks in 2017 (with links to their jukebox):
1 – Udaharanam Sujatha (Gopi Sundar)
2 – Solo (Multi-composer)
3 – Mayaanadhi (Rex Vijayan)
My 2017 Top-30 Malayalam Film Songs Listing[Format - Song (Film): Music Director - Playback Singer - Lyricist]
1. Kannile Poika (Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum): Bijibal - Ganesh Sundaram/Soumya Ramakrishnan- Rafeeq Ahammed
2. Kasavu Njoriyumoru Pulari (Udaharanam Sujatha): Gopi Sundar - Gayathri Varma - D Santhosh
3. Kadavathoru Thoni (Poomaram): Leela L Girikuttan- Karthik - Ajeesh Dasan
4. Nanavere (Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela): Justin Varghese - Tessa Chavara/Vipin Lal - Santhosh Varma
5. Kilivathilin Chare Nee (Pullikkaran Staraa): M Jayachandran - Anne Amie - M R Jayageetha
6. Ozhukiyozhuki (Oru Cinemakkaran): Bijibal - Haricharan /Shweta Mohan - Rafeeq Ahammed
7. Mizhiyil Ninnum (Maayanadhi): Rex Vijayan - Shahabaz Aman - Anwar Ali
8. Pranavaakaram (E): Rahul Raj - Saritha Ram - Vinayak Sasikumar
9. Oru Puzhayarikil (Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol): Bijibal - Shweta Mohan - Rafeeq Ahammed
10. Janah Meri Janah (Cappuccino): Hesham Abdul Wahab - Vineeth Sreenivasan - Haseena S Kanam
11. Kattu Vannuvo (Lakshyam): M Jayachandran - Vijay Yesudas - Santhosh Varma
12. Kannil Kannil (CIA: Comrade in America): Gopi Sundar - Haricharan Seshadri/Sayanora P - Rafeeq Ahammed
13. Ekayaai Nee (Kaattu): Deepak Dev - P Unnikrishnan - Rafeeq Ahammed
14. Aaro Nenjil (Godha): Shaan Rahman - Gowry Lekshmi/Shaan Rahman - Manu Manjith
15. Aaradyam (Matchbox): Bijibal - Vishnu Kurup/Shilpa Rajiv - Rafeeq Ahammed
16. Mazha Paadum (Sunday Holiday): Deepak Dev - Aravind Venugopal /Aparna Balamurali - Jis Joy
17. Kaatil Ila (Udaharanam Sujatha): Gopi Sundar - Vijay Yesudas - Rafeeq Ahammed
18. Lailakame (Ezra): Rahul Raj - Haricharan - Harinarayanan B.K.
19. Entammede Jimikki Kammal (Velipadinte Pusthakam): Shaan Rahman - Vineeth Sreenivasan/Renjith Unni - Anil Panachooran
20. Njanee Onjalil (Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu): Bijibal - Jayachandran/Chithra Arun - Harinarayanan
21. Roshomon (Solo): Prashant Pillai - Ashwin Gopakumar/Arun Kamath/Niraj Suresh/Sachin Raj/Rakesh Kishore/Alfred Eby Issac/Mithun Jayraj - Harinarayanan
22. Arikil Ini Njaan Varaam (Adam Joan): Deepak Dev - Prithviraj Sukumaran - Santosh Verma
23. Unarukayaano (Udaharanam Sujatha): Gopi Sundar - Sayanora Philip - Rafeeq Ahammed
24. Ivalaro (Oru Mexican Aparatha): Manikandan Ayyappa - Vijay Yesudas - Rafeeq Ahammed
25. Theeyame (Angamaly Diaries): Prashant Pillai - Angamaly Pranchi/Shreekumar Vakkiyil - Traditional
26. Engane Padendu Njan (Cappuccino): Hesham Abdul Wahab - P Jayachandran/Manjari - Venu V Desom
27. Ethetho Swapnamo (Avarude Ravukal): Shankar Sharma -Vaisakh C Madhav - Siby Padiyara
28. Enthavo (Njandukalude Naattil Oridavela): Justin Varghese - Sooraj Santosh /Justin Varghese - Santhosh Varma
29. Vaa Kuruvi (Vilakkumaram): Sanjeev Thomas - Ammu Indira/Sanjeev Thomas - Arun G.S
30. Kaiveeshi Neengunna (The Great Father): Gopi Sundar - Vijay Yesudas - Harinarayanan B.K.
31. Uyirin Nadhiye (Mayaanadhi): Rex Vijayan - Rex Vijayan – Anwar Ali
32. Akale Oru Kaadinte (Ramante Edanthottam): Bijibal - Shreya Ghoshal - Santhosh Varma
34. Kayalirambilu (Paipin Chuvattile Pranayam): Bijibal - Bijibal/Ann Amie - Santhosh Varma
35. Njanum Neeyum (Theeram): Afzal Yusuff - Shreya Ghoshal /Quincy Chettupally - Harinarayanan BK
Below is a playlist for the entire set of songs:
Originally published in MadAboutMoviez: Top 30 Malayalam Film Songs of 2017: A Compilation