Kalyani Malik’s tribute to legends, from Mohammed Rafi to SP Balasubrahmanyam, with lyrics by MM Keeravani, Madan Karky and Shagun Sodhi

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A screengrab from the video ‘ Sangeetama’, composer Kalyani Malik

Music composer Kalyani Malik recently unveiled three songs, one each in Telugu, Hindi and Tamil, as a tribute to composers, singers and lyricists who shaped his interest in music. The independent music videos published on his YouTube channel Umami Music, have lyrics by MM Keeravaani (Telugu), Madan Karky (Tamil) and Shagun Sodhi (Hindi). “The music I grew up listening to shaped my interest and encouraged me to be a composer. This initiative is my way of celebrating legends who are no longer with us,” says Kalyani Malik. 

The composer, known for his compositions for Telugu films such as Aithe, Ala Modalaindi, Ashta Chamma, Oohalu Gusagusalade, Phalana Ammayi Phalana Abbayi among others, began working on the idea of a tribute to music legends a year ago, after launching Umami Music channel. The channel, he explains, aims to directly connect with listeners and explore music outside the realm of cinema.

The video for the three songs, of four-minute duration each, presents images of 23 composers, singers and lyricists. The Telugu song ‘Sangeetama’ is sung by Lipsika Bhashyam, the Tamil song ‘En Vaanilae’ by Padmalatha, while the Hindi version ‘Sukoon Hai’ is rendered by Shagun Sodhi.

Legends featured in the video

Hindi: Kishore Kumar, Salil Chowdhury, SD Burman, RD Burman, Mohammedd Rafi, Jaidev, Madan Mohan Kohli, Lata Mangeshkar and Sudhir Phadke. 

Telugu and Tamil: S P Balasubrahmanyam, Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry, K. Chakravarthy, Saluri Rajeswara Rao, Veturi Sundararama Murthy, Ramesh Naidu, Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao, Sirkazhi Govindarajan, K V Mahadevan, MS Viswanathan and P Bhanumathi.

Kalyani Malik also acknowledges Mandolin U Srinivas, radio announcer Ameen Sayani of Binaca Geetmala fame and electric guitarist and violinist Van Shipley. 

When Kalyani Malik began listing out musicians who had inspired him since childhood, it ended up being quite long. “It was tough to list everyone, so I chose those who are not among us today,” he says.

The composer is forthright when he says he wants to put out a video supporting the songs at a minimal budget. The video has photographs of the legends with a mention of some of Kalyani Malik’s favourite albums and compositions of theirs.

For Telugu, Kalyani Malik had approached a few lyricists but when things did not progress further, he turned to his elder brother and Academy Award winner MM Keeravaani. “Annayya wrote the lyrics within a day. He also suggested Shagun Sodhi for the Hindi version, since he had known her father (Surinder Sodhi) during the making of the Hindi film Special 26.”

For Tamil lyrics, Kalyani Malik contacted Madan Karky, since the two had been part of the Baahubali team. Impressed by the idea and the music, Madan wrote the lyrics overnight and did not charge a fee. 

Once the songs were in place, Kalyani Malik put together the video and edited it, learning the techniques through YouTube tutorials. “It was a learning curve to do it all by myself,” he says. 

Next, he is working on an independent music video in Telugu and Hindi. Meanwhile, he has also composed for a new Telugu web series, a relationship drama between a father and son, which will be announced soon.

Reflecting on his entry into the independent music space, he says it has been both liberating and challenging to try something beyond cinema, where one has to compose to the requirements of a script. “While composing for a film, someone listens to the tunes and gives us feedback. I had to step back while composing independently, revisit the music after a few days and gauge whether it was good enough to be put out. I am glad the songs are being well received and actors like Prabhas and Adivi Sesh shared it on social media.”

The name Umami Music (@umamimusic on YouTube), he reveals, is a combination of his wife’s name (Uma), his son Mayur (M) and himself (I from Kalyani Malik). “I wanted a name that would be unique. A friend suggested naming the channel after my wife and then this idea took shape.”

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