By far, some of the best pieces of music that late composer Adithyan had made, were for the 1994 movie Seevalaperi Paandi. A movie that documented the life and times of a Tirunelveli don from the village of Seevalaperi, it catapulted its lead actor Napoleon to instant fame. K Rajeshwar, writer of the movie, revealed to us in an interview that he was gathering material for the movie in Tirunelveli for three months, interacting with locals about Pandi of Seevalaperi. Before it became a film though, a Tamil magazine had run the story as a series.
An article in The Hindu calls Pandi a ‘Robin Hood of Tirunelveli’ – “the man who first hacked to death the village munsiff he worked for, and then went on to commit a series of crimes before falling prey to a policeman’s bullets.” It is for the tale of this don with a heart of gold that Adithyan – two years after making his debut with Amaran – composed a string of songs that would now be called earworms.
‘Kizhakku Sevakkayile‘, a lovely number starring Napoleon and Saranya Ponvanna, features a couple on their wedding day. Against a landscape of rural sounds, Adithyan constructs a melody with experimental, often dissonant orchestration that just blends into the setting.
The other number in the movie – ‘Oila Paadum Paatule‘ – a melodious character sketch of a free-spirited tribal girl has glorious echoes of the mountains. The interludes with some really rustic bass supported by long shots of the hills in the dusk are perhaps the song’s best feature, running a close second only to that of KS Chitra’s voice that could have easily lapsed into shrill tones given the premise, but rises gracefully above it.
In his later years Adithyan, after composing for around 20 movies in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, had gone on to host a cookery show on Jaya TV.
D Imman, whose haunting notes for Mynaa are still talked about, considers Adithyan his ‘musical mentor’. In a tweet posted earlier today, he wrote:
“It’s really hard to digest that my musical mentor is no more. One of the important personality who encouraged me as a keyboard programmer in my initial days.Its disheartening to face the reality that he is no more.Loads of memories to cherish.#RIPAadithyanSir”
The other film that had brought fame to Adithyan was the one he debuted in. Amaran (1992), in which he was credited as ‘Emmy Titus’ – the name he was born with, also revolved around a don, a slum lord essayed by Karthik Muthuraman. Written and directed by K Rajeshwar, the film also starred actors Vijayakumar, Manjula Vijayakumar and Bhanu Priya. Karthik as Amaran, an orphan, is adopted by a family who raises him. Over the course of ‘Chandirane Suriyane‘, which tides over the opening credits in the voice of KJ Yesudas, the film introduces us to lives of its leads.
The 90s albums of Adithyan had a staple: Songs with the flavour of the streets, like this one from Lucky Man (1995). This number – written by Piraisoodan – was sung by the composer himself.
For Asuran (1995), Adithyan had composed this dance number with a techno base that was typical of the 90s. Starring Napoleon, Roja and Mansoor Ali Khan, and sung by the composer himself, it was a tea kadai favourite.
(Composer Adithyan succumbed to kidney failure on Tuesday morning. His last album was for the movie Kovilpatti Veeralakshmi in 2003. Adithyan is survived by his wife and two daughters.)