7 Times Indie Music Videos Took Kerala by Storm

I’ve been a fan of the indie genre. Kerala, in particular, has been very supportive of independent artists and albums right from the early days of television. Here we look at seven such “music videos” that hit critical mass upon release. Going in chronological order and starting from the most recent ones, the list is going to drown you in nostalgia by the end! 

Pambaram by Street Academics

In February, Karikku released a teaser for one of their web series on Instagram. The teaser trended huge on social media courtesy the background music that had four words in total: “Kara, Kulam, Kulam, Kara”. (The next day there were amphibian memes on Dank Memes Malayalam.) Soon after this, Karikku released a full version of Pambaram. The video is a quirky concept, centred around a “dead crow” (which is a meta-reference to another song by Street Academics, Chatha Kaakka). The video also gets into the spotlight the underground hip-hop, skateboarding and parkour communities of Kochi. And in one of the funniest product placements ever, the character Babu Namboothiri makes an appearance wearing a Babu Namboothiri tee (that’s Karikku Tuned using a Karikku web series character to promote a Karikku Wybe product!). 

Aalayal Thara Venam by Masala Coffee

The video was released as a tribute to women: in their own words, the “Snow Whites with a tan” who are married to their dreams and who dress up for themselves. Apart from the soulful singing by Sooraj Santhosh and Varun Sunil, the video focusses on a bunch of young independent women (including now-popular Ann Sheetal and Aileena Aimon) having fun. Is the video completely in sync with the lyrics, you ask? We also don’t know for sure. But at least a couple of times, the video makes you question the relevance of some of Kavalam’s lines (like “Poomalini margalaayal adakkam venam”) in today’s world.

Nenjodu Cherthu by Yuvvh 

Directed by Alphonse Puthren, and starring Nivin Pauly and Nazriya Nazim, this song brought back the nalla “neram” (wink) for indie music videos after a brief lull. Romantic songs at the time came with certain tropes: good costumes, scenic locations, song-and-dance… In Nenjodu Cherthu, the premise is simple: One morning, Nivin Pauly “in simple dress” gatecrashes Nazriya’s bedroom (she’s also in “simple dress”) and sings her a song he wrote. This simplicity in picturization is what set the song apart from its contemporaries, and got it to trend heavily on YouTube (a rarity in those days). Today the song has over two crore views!

Palavattam by Shaan Rahman

By bringing in a mainstream actor to feature in a song with outlandish lyrics about heartbreak (a spiritual father to Kolaveri Di, maybe?) this video – directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan – was nothing short of pathbreaking. The picturization was way ahead of its time and remains fresh even today.  The hip-hop dancers were great, but the absolute high point of the song is when Salim Kumar recreates his famous MJ-like step from Chathikkatha Chandu!

Chalakudy Chanthaku Pogumbo by Kalabhavan Mani

Definitely one of the biggest contributors to the indie scene, Mani managed to create a whole parallel industry for traditional folk albums. His entire collection of Naadan Paattukal was a roaring success, with this song being a major chartbuster. The videos were all mostly montages of Mani and a naadan chick running along a field and duet- dancing. Every 30 seconds there would be that iconic close-up shot of Mani doing an animated expression while lipsyncing. Despite the low production quality (obviously, it was the inception stage) Mani’s screen presence has always been entertaining. Remember his antics with the goat in “Kannimanga Prayathil”?

Sundariye Vaa by Shyam Dharman

It’s difficult to describe the frenzy this song created among highschool loverboys in 2005. Just scroll through the YouTube comments of this song and you realize that scores of people have nostalgic memories related to it. Legend has it (source: random YouTube comment lol) that this was the most aired song of all time on Dew Drops (a Kairali WE show). I don’t know if the video has aged well but Franco’s voice is a highlight that you can’t afford to miss even today.

Ormakkai Ini Oru Snehageetham by M Jayachandran

Widely regarded as THE song that ushered in the “album culture”, this East Coast Vijayan production features some of the biggest names in the music scene: Yesudas, KS Chithra and M Jayachandran. Maybe it was the popularity of these names that gave this song a wide reach through television. The video is also remarkably subtle for its time. 

We can’t not mention this, so here’s a bonus addition. 🙂

Silsila Hai Silsila by Harishankar Kalavoor

If all the above songs stirred up storms, this one was a tsunami, coming at people when they least expected it. Remember, this pioneer of the cringe pop genre came to Kerala when Dhinchak Pooja was still in her kuttipaavada.

And in these challenging times, we’d just like to end with a few soul-stirring lines: 
Aadiyum paadiyum theerthatte ninde manasinullile dukhangal
Kumila poloru jeevithathil ini sangadapeduvan neramilla. 

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