Anandavalli: A Visual Swathi Thirunal Padam

A young team transcribes a vintage Swathi Thirunal padam into a short film which dispels the notion that classical music is elitist

A two-century-old Carnatic composition has found portrayal in a musical album, with a team of youngsters featuring the Swathi Thirunal padam in a short musical film. The six-minute Anandavalli lends an insightful visual representation to an eponymous composition by the 19th-century Maharaja. Besides in music circuits, Swathi Thirunal’s compositions are usually staged as dance items.

Set in the soothing Neelambari raga, the love poem in the Sanskrit language seeks happiness by pleading to the goddess to dispel one’s darkness of grief with a smile that is like the rays of nectar.

Recently, a team of up-and-coming movie-makers from Kerala innovatively made the composition as the focal theme in their onscreen work by the same name. Anandavalli picturises how music influences the common man, and how he perceives the feel of Carnatic music — often believed to require training and a high level of understanding to enjoy.

The musical essays a middle-aged person stumbling upon the song Anandavalli on the radio that is on in his modest house in a village. Its music, set to the simple eight-beat adi tala cycle, captures his attention. The freshness the lines bring invokes a range of tender emotions in him. The common man is played by M Parthasarathi, a middle-aged professional actor-director in Malayalam theatre for the past 25 years.

swathi thirunal anandavalli
Sajith Moothakurambu, Director, Anandavalli

Uploaded on YouTube on November 21, the album has been produced by People Story Collective. It is a media production company that comes up with cultural documentaries on visual and performing arts. The work by the team from upstate Malappuram district has found close to 5,000 hits in a fortnight.

Music for all

Anandavalli director Sajith Moothakurambu notes that classical music, especially Carnatic, is typically believed to be a connoisseur’s passion. “The general impression is that this form is appreciated only by the musically educated lot. Anandavalli tries to break this notion,” he says.

Sajith, besides being a documentary maker, is a photographer and the co-founder of People Story Collective. “Music is above any class, caste or regional segregation. Any normal person can enjoy music in his own way. The emotion that music brings to a listener is unique,” he says.

Rakesh Pazhayidam, a mridangam percussionist and sound engineer, has lent the vocal support to Anandavalli. He has also done the background score and sound designing. While Amal M did the editing, Ranjeesh Meleparambath is the director of photography.

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