The Shaan Rahman Interview: We recorded ‘Jimmiki Kammal’ in 15 minutes!

As ‘Jimmiki Kammal’ goes viral globally, it’s composer Shaan Rahman talks to Deepa Antony about the making of the song and his upcoming projects. 

“I didn’t want a polished song sung after takes and re-takes. I wanted a raw song with a catchy beat that had immense recall value. And I knew it had to come in the moment. So I asked Vineeth to just go wild!”

Flying on cloud 9 with music of ‘jimmiki kammal’ playing in the backdrop is Shaan Rahman, the music director of Velipadinte Pusthakam. The new campus anthem played fresh as his caller tune as we call him for a telephone interview. Brimming with confidence and casual candor Shaan Rahman discusses the story of ‘Jimmiki kammal’ and his projects to come.

  • Congratulations on ‘Jimmiki Kammal’! It’s gone viral beyond redemption. How do you feel?
  • Honestly, I feel more relieved than happy. Happy, yes, but more relieved that people have accepted it and loved it and have owned it the way they have. Since this was my first film with Lalu ettan (director Lal Jose) the moment he gave me the green card for the song was when I felt the first rush of relief. Now as people have accepted it so much I’m totally relieved and happy. It feels so good!
  • Tell us the story of how this happened.
  • So I had met Lalu ettan at functions but never worked with him. And he when calls me to do ‘Velipadinte Pusthakam’ he tells me, “I don’t want the usual Shaan Rahman stuff. I want you to outperform yourself”(imitates Lal Jose). I’m wondering whether he’s pulling my leg or if it’s a compliment. Anyway, as I begin I was given the first 4 lines of ‘jimmiki kammal’. The song is quite popular as a folksong among college kids. But I was specifically told not to use the words and just the rhythm. I knew we wanted a song everybody could hum, sing and repeat. And while making the tune, I fell in love with those lines. It had a quirkiness and wackiness about them. So, quite timidly I told Lalu ettan to please keep those lines in the song. He agreed on my insistence, and thank god for that decision! Anil Panachooran worked his brilliance over the rest of the lyrics and the rest is history!
  • You and Vineeth Srinivasan have a great chemistry and it’s worked like magic again with this song.
  • I was absolutely sure I wanted Vineeth to sing this song. He had been in his hideout with his wife and newborn enjoying his time as a new father. I told him that I would wait but the song isn’t being recorded without him. Finally, I managed to bring him out of his den. And we had a gala time recording it! We finished recording in 10-15 minutes in a single take and he says, “Aliyaa, this song is a ‘hit item’.” (Laughs)
  • You finished recording that fast?
  • Some songs are like that. We finished recording Anuragathin Velayil, Muthuchippi (Thattathin Marayathu), Enne Thallendammava and Kaikottum Kandittilla (Oru Vadakkan Selfie) in 15-20 minutes. It’s about the moment and the feel of the songs. Same was the case with ‘jimikki kammal’. I didn’t want a polished song sung after takes and re-takes. I wanted a raw song with a catchy beat that had immense recall value. And I knew it had to come in the moment. So I asked Vineeth to just go wild!

  • The song and the dance videos based on the song are breaking the internet. How is the response reaching you?
  • I’m getting at least 2 dance videos every day. Most of them are really good. The song has even made the Filmfare dance to it as a tribute to our Lalettan! (laughs) Frankly, nobody can say what exactly worked in the case of this song to make it a hit to this extent. But it’s also attracting some song remixes. The other day someone sent me a bad remix of ‘jimmiki kammal’. It made me murderously angry!
  • Are you this possessive about all your songs?
  • Not really, no! But some songs are not to be tampered with. Thiruvavaniraavu (Jacobinte swargaragyam) was one such song. It’s a song you can’t play in a pub over a drink and be ‘yo-yo’ about. I would get really angry if anybody meddled with the song. In fact, the only remix that I liked of the song was by DJ Savio. He did a good job remixing it. But, I’m yet to hear a good remix of ‘jimmiki kammal’.
  • Lately you have noticeably come out of your comfort zone while working with directors like Ranjith in Puthanpanam and Lal Jose in Velipadinte pusthakam. Do you instinctively venture out of your signature style?
  • (laughs) I’ll happily build a high-walled castle and stay within my comfort zone if I could! But, no, seriously I like it when new directors come and challenge me into creating something new. While working on these films I was categorically asked to create something different from my usual style. So, the first thing I did was to ditch my beloved piano. It was challenging, yes, but it was still fun!

  • Your career has taken an interesting musical tangent. So, what are you bringing us next?
  • Well, I’ve wanted to do a musical love story ever since Thattathin Marayathu. And My Story is a beautiful love story shot in Portugal. It has Prithviraj and Parvathy in the lead and is directed by Roshni Dinakar. Apart from that I have Vineeth’s and Dhyan’s next and Nivin’s next which will be directed by Jomon (T John). Then I also have a few Telugu projects. They are great fans of our movie songs… (Smiles)

We leave the banter as the self-confessed night owl is gearing up to his day’s work. Nearing a decade in the industry Shaan Rahman has created his foothold in the Malayalam film industry playing on his strengths and creating music for all, no holds barred.

CONVERSATION byDeepa Antony

23 Sep 2017 | 07:23 PM