The flow of melody encompasses the dancers as they sway, swirl and surge ahead with the music of ‘Yamuna’, an audio-visual presentation by Carnatic vocalist-composer Sreevalsan J Menon and actor-dancer Rima Kallingal. Streaks of blue dart across the screen as the dancers emulate the flow and ebb of the river as it tumbles through the hills before flowing through the thirsty plains of North India, even as Sreevalsan’s voice brings the lyrics alive mellifluously. It could be an ode to the river or a lament for the river that it was!
Both Sreevalsan and Rima are at their best in this creative journey with each interpreting the lyrics in their respective art forms and fusing it seamlessly into a captivating presentation.
Song for the river
“It is a plea to conserve and protect nature; a reminder of how mankind is polluting even life-giving rivers,” says Sreevalsan, adding that the project was set into motion during a fund-raiser organised by the film industry and musicians from all over Kerala.
“During a conversation with film director Aashiq Abu, one of the main persons involved in the programme, I thought aloud if Rima might be interested in such an audio-video presentation of a song I had in mind. He persuaded me to speak to Rima and that is how ‘Yamuna’ took shape,” says Sreevalsan over phone from Kochi.
Binu Panicker, who writes under the pseudonym Advaita Dasa, has composed the poem ‘Yamuna’ in which the poet imagines what Lord Krishna would have felt on seeing the state of the river. “I was bowled over by the charm and depth of the verses. I felt there was something different about his usage of phrases and words. He is not someone who was into writing but when he put his mind to it, there is a fount of poetry he has tapped into,” believes the singer.
Composing it along with Edappally Ajith Kumar, Sreevalsan imbued the lyrics with melody. Instead of a conventional orchestration, he chose to do a kind of fusion of western classical music with the rhythm of Kerala’s percussion ensembles.
Thrissur-based Pradeep Singh arranged and conducted the music. The singer is all praise for each of the musicians who played for the song.
Rima was game for the creative collaboration and began rehearsing for it with dancers of Mamangam, her troupe, once she was done with its choreography. Filming began early in 2020. However, just as the filming began, the lockdown put a stop to the project. It was only after the government eased the restrictions that Sreevalsan and Rima began working on it again.
The consummate artistes have worked their magic with a presentation that is both melodious and captivating. Truly a poem to their artistry.