Malayalam film music industry now has fast food culture: Composer Jerry Amaldev

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Jerry Amaldev

BY SANU GEORGE

Kochi–He trained as a priest and then realised his calling lay in music. He trained under the legendary Naushad and went to Cornell to hone his skills. Jerry Amaldev burst on the Malayalam film scene in 1995 and composed music for 75 films and then gave it up because he was fed up with what he calls the “fast food culture” the genre has deteriorated into.

“The situation today in the Malayalam film industry is that it has a fast food culture and certainly, I don’t think, that’s what is needed,” the 80-year-old Amaldev, who thrilled music buffs with his hugely popular tunes, told IANS in an interview.

“Gone are the days when it would take days and weeks for the lyrics to be written up and then it came to the musician to do his job. Today, what happens is everything is readily available and all that a person who wants music to be done has to just give the premise (mood) – whether it’s happy, sad or things like that. Immediately the music is ready and the job is done,” Amaldev lamented.

Even so, Amaldev is quite busy these days, saying a musician’s job is just not restricted to the film industry. He is quite busy with his own choral group, besides teaching music at a leading private school and composing songs for educational institutions and others who require one.

Tracing his past, he said music was always his first love and that’s why he decided to call time on his Catholic missionary career after studying the Bible for a decade.

Amaldev began his new career in music under the legendary Naushad in Bombay (now Mumbai) and worked with him for five years.

He then left for the US and after a decade of learning and teaching music at the prestigious Cornell University, returned to India to pursue his professional career.

The very first film he composed for – the romantic thriller “Manjil Virinja Pookal” (1980) – became one of the biggest hits largely due to the music scored by Amaldev.

Since then, he has had no reason to look back till 1995, when he realised he was not “clicking” any more.

Comparing his time in the film industry and today, he said the heart of a song are the lyrics “and I must consider myself hugely lucky that I had legends like ONV (Kurup), P. Bhaskaran, Bichu Thirumala and a few others who gave me the best lyrics.”

“Today, the cultural degradation that has taken place has also affected the lyrics,” said Amaldev, adding that he did the music for the Malayalam film “Action Hero Biju” in 2016, which was hugely successful at the box office.

“It’s not that I was in hiding; I am very much here, it’s because people do not want my kind of music,” said Amaldev, who, two months back, composed for the film “A for Apple” that turned out to be a super flop.

“Today, I have a tendency to dissuade everyone who comes to me, be it for an album or a film, as I know it’s difficult to go forward the way I see my music. When it comes to music albums, I tell them (the producers) that they are not going to make money out of it,” Amaldev said.

Despite being away from the film market, Amaldev said he is extremely happy and living life to its fullest as nothing is in one’s control.

“It’s always better not to worry about anything and hence I am perfectly happy with what I am doing now; films or no film, is not an issue,” Amaldev signed off. (IANS)

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