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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Jam with Kerala’s top musicians at Sharjah concert

Jamgraab will see eight music maestros performing together in Sharjah for the sizeable Keralite community in the UAE.
Performers onstage at a Jamgraab concert in Calicut, India. Courtesy: Jamgraab
Performers onstage at a Jamgraab concert in Calicut, India. Courtesy: Jamgraab

Eight music directors from Kerala will take the stage on Friday, February 20, at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

The show is called Jamgraab, a title made up of the first letters of the names of the eight music directors – Jassie Gift, Alphons Joseph, Mejo Joseph, Gopi Sundar, Rahul Raj, Anil Johnson, Afzal Yusuf and Bijibal.

The concert series was launched with a bang last year in Calicut, Kerala, where it received a tremendous response from Malayalam film music fans. Sharjah is the second stop and they are planning a world tour across cities in the US, UK and Australia.

Presented in the UAE by Oneness Mediamill and Razmatazz Events, Jamgraab features a 100-member team, including music composers, singers and the orchestra.

So how did eight music directors with uniquely individualistic styles hit upon the idea to get together on a global stage, overcoming the stereotypical ego and rivalry that the film industry is known for?

“Actually we’re all part of a musicians’ union in the Malayalam film industry,” says music director Gopi Sundar, who has composed hit numbers for films such as Anwar, Usthad Hotel and Bangalore Days. “Outside of movies, we’re like a bunch of friends who hang out together and talk music. So during one of our chats, we came up this idea of forming a group and making music together.”

Shajoon Kariyal, who has made films such as Thachiledathu Chundan and the critically acclaimed Vadakkumnadhan, will be directing the show, which is performed on a digitised stage, complete with pyrotechnics.

“In Calicut, we had a 60-foot digital wall and 300,000 watts stereophonic sound – all this was seen for the first time in Kerala. We plan to double all this in Sharjah,” Kariyal said.

But the biggest draw, says Sundar, is to see eight music directors performing their hit songs together on one stage.

Why did they choose Sharjah for their second show?

“The UAE has the maximum number of Malayalees outside Kerala, so it was a natural choice to take our music to them first outside India. We know they have a great love for music,” says Kariyal.

“We were taken aback by the passion for music people of Calicut had,” Sundar adds. “It started pouring midway through our concert and the audience continued enjoying the music, using chairs to cover their heads. That made big news there and the word has spread here, too, through family and friends.”

Sundar is known to have made film stars such as Prithviraj and Dulquer Salman sing in their movies. So will we get to see any actors crooning?

“When stars come, the whole spotlight is on them, whereas, we want to focus on the composers and their music,” he says. “So we don’t plan on bringing stars aboard.”

“Music should be the star of the evening,” says Kariyal.

However, the concert will feature performances from popular singers, including Najeem Arshad, Ranjini Jose, Preethi Bhalla, Sangeetha, Ajith and Saumya.

Apart from Malayalam chartbusters and golden oldies, Jamgraab will also present hit Tamil and Hindi numbers.

The performers

Jassie Gift

He stormed the Malayalam music charts with the song Lajjavathiye, which he wrote and sang, from the movie 4 the People. He has also written and sung for Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films. His filmography includes Pattalam and Pokkiri Raja.

Alphons Joseph

Best known for singing Aaromale, composed by A R Rahman. Films he’s composed for include Vellithira, Jalotsavam and Big B, which included a hit by Bollywood singer Shreya Ghoshal.

Mejo Joseph

Made his debut with the film Notebook in 2006. Followed up with scores for Traffic, Chapters and Cycle.

Gopi Sundar

He’s the reigning hitmaker of the Malayalam film industry. Sundar has composed chartbusters for films such as Anwar and ABCD, as well as unforgettable lilting melodies in Usthad Hotel, Bangalore Days and How Old Are You.

Rahul Raj

He quit a lucrative job in London as a network specialist to pursue a career in music. Known to use elements of western classical music, he’s one of the few Malayalam composers to have a fans’ association. Much-acclaimed and honoured with awards for his work in Ritu, his other films include Bachelor Party and Kili Poyi.

Anil Johnson

An ad man with several well-known jingles to his credit before shifting to the movies, Johnson’s filmography includes the superhit Drishyam and Memories.

Afzal Yusuf

Visually challenged since birth, Yusuf strived hard to make a career out of his passion – music. He has given us some great music in films such as Ithu Pathiramanal, Mammootty-starrer Immanuel and 1993 Bombay, March 12, in which Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam sang his first Malayalam song.

Bijibal

Having made his debut with the acclaimed Arabikatha in 2007, Bijibal won the Indian government’s National Award for his background score in Kaliyachan. He has composed music for several films, including Idukki Gold, Salt N Pepper and Red Wine.

• Jamgraab is at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday, February 20. Tickets cost between Dh35 and Dh500. To book, call 055 823 3635 or 055 948 4400

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