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Interview | Vinayak Sasikumar : I am in a better space now as a lyricist

Lyricist Vinayak Sasikumar

Lyricist Vinayak Sasikumar is on a roll with his verses. If he hit a high last year with songs from Romancham – earworms such as ‘Aadaranjali’ and ‘Athmave po’ – this year it is Fahadh Faasil-starrer Aavesham, in which he has written eight of the nine tracks. Fans are not just grooving to high-energy songs such as ‘Illuminati’, ‘Jada’, ‘Galatta’, and ‘Armadam’, the lyrics too are the talk of the town. “I have fun when I write such lyrics. The fact that the movie has done so well makes it special,” says Vinayak.

He points out that Aavesham was not a challenge, having written jocular lyrics for Romancham, that too for the same team — composer Sushin Shyam and director Jithu Madhavan. “But I had to be careful, especially when it came to describing Ranga [Fahadh’s character]. For instance, ‘Illuminati’ is a song about who Ranga is and it is the height of exaggeration. I had to ensure that it did not sound over the top. So I took sometime to get into that mode,” he says.

Having written several song hooks, Vinayak says arriving at catchy phrases or lines is not easy. “In Romancham and Aavesham, I lucked out because I was given the space to work on those phrases. Sushin told me that I needn’t worry about the meter of the song. In the case of ‘Galatta’, he gave me the tempo and asked me to write in sync with that. Once I wrote the lines, he set the tune. Same with the case of ‘Mathapithakkale maapu’. I haven’t got the same leeway always. Then it is quite difficult to arrive at a song hook that goes with the tune,” he says.

Aavesham marks yet another successful association with Sushin. Among their projects are Ezra, Rosappoo, Maradona, Varathan, Kumbalangi Nights, Bheeshmaparvam, Kannur Squad, Manjummel Boys (one song)and Romancham.

Lyricist Vinayak Sasikumar

Lyricist Vinayak Sasikumar
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Vinayak adds that when he is aware of the cast or the actor who will be featured in the song, it subconsciously influences the writing. “Sometimes I get to watch visuals before I write. But there were times when I had to visualise and pen the lyrics as in the case of ‘Illuminati’. In ‘Njaan Jackson allada’ [from Ambili], I was given a brief about Soubin ikka’s [Soubin Shahir] and his dance moves,” he explains.

Having written for over 110 films since his debut at the age of 18 with Kutteem Kolum (2013), Vinayak maintains it is difficult to predict whether the songs will get noticed. “In Manjummel Boys, I wrote one song, ‘Thai manam’; the lines are close to my heart. But, it didn’t reach the audience as much as the other songs in the movie. That happens. In Aavesham, I was sure the songs would get noticed because there has been so much buzz around the film.”

Vinayak does research for his songs if needed. He mentions Jayasurya’s upcoming mega project, Kathanar – The Wild Sorcerer, which is under production. “Since the characters do not speak colloquial, present-day Malayalam, I had to do a little research in consultation with the director and writer. I wanted to use the dialect used in the movie in the lyrics as well. For the songs in Jaya Jaya Jaya Jaya Hey, I read a lot of Malayalam proverbs related to women. I did it out of curiosity and, eventually, got hooked to it. I was shocked to find that some of those were so regressive and anti-women!” he recalls.

When asked about the trend where a song is not completely picturised for the movie, Vinayak observes that he does not have a problem with that if he is informed about it beforehand.

The lyricist adds that there were instances when such songs were lapped up by the audience. “In Bheeshmaparvam, I had one song, ‘Parudeesa’. ‘Rathipushpam’, which was picturised as a film song within the film, was meant to be a passing track. But the team promoted it so well that it went viral. That was a bonus,” he says.

Vinayak says that it has been a fruitful journey in the industry. “I feel that I am in a better space now as a lyricist. I get to work with different genres. Hits make us relevant and I have had my share of success. The trust factor with the composer has got stronger over the years. I could use the word ‘Illuminati’ in a song only because of that trust. I now have a better understanding of what each composer wants. Above all, I am enjoying the freedom of expressing what I want to,” he avers.

He contends that lyricists have to be acknowledged. “A lyricist can never expect to be as popular as a singer or composer. It would be unrealistic to expect the public to always know the name of a lyricist. All I ask for is to get credit from the makers of a project, people in the industry, media etc.”

Among his upcoming releases are Guruvayoor Ambalanadayil, Turbo, Marivillin Gopurangal and Little Hearts.

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