“The secret in cinema lies in not just being talented but showcasing your talent to the audience. And, that happens only when you get the right films and right directors.” These were the words of D Imman 10 years ago, prior to the release of Mynaa. That film turned out to be the big break for not just this affable composer, but also for its entire team, including director Prabu Solomon, actors Amala Paul and Vidaarth, and cinematographer M Sukumar. With Mynaa celebrating its 10th anniversary today, we spoke to Imman on what the film means to him, his journey since then and what plans he has for the next decade. Excerpts:
What does Mynaa mean to you?
It means everything to me. It kick-started my life in a proper manner. Of course, I had done several films before that, but I was looking out for a film that totally demands love music. I hadn’t done an out-and-out romantic film until then. If a film has to turn our favourable for a technician, it has to offer them the scope to properly showcase their talent. For a stunt choreographer, a masala film or an action-based script will only be the right showcase. Similarly, for an art director, a period film gives them space to show their mettle. When people watch such films, they automatically ask about the technician behind it. That’s how a romantic film becomes the calling card of a music director. Until Mynaa, I didn’t get such an opportunity. And as cinema, it was not a formula film… it was a bit offbeat, but with potential to also work commercially. A parallel cinema treated in a mainstreammanner, like Kaadhal or Veyyil or Autograph. I had been wanting to do such films, too, so I should say everything fell in place for me with that film. All I thought at that time was that I’d gotten an opportunity that I hadn’t gotten all those years back, and I should do it well. I consider it a blessing that the film came my way.
You had worked with Prabu Solomon in Lee earlier… But even the sound of your music was drastically different from Mynaa onwards. What were you going for, in terms of sound, with Mynaa?
Yes, but even in that film, it was not a film tailor-made for songs. It was a sports drama, so a song was a forced introduction. But in Mynaa, the songs were organic to the script. Not only in this film, but even in Kumki and Kayal, the songs were integral to the script. In fact, we couldn’t recreate this magic in Thodari because that one was a film that did not need songs. We had to force-fit the songs as the story was entirely set on a running train. Such restrictions curtail a composer, and it is only romantic stories that help them break free. This is why Mynaa, Kumki and Kayal are very, very close to my heart. One of the liberating factors about Mynaa for me was the fact that it gave me my first proper chance to use rural music. Right from Tamizhan, I hadn’t got that opportunity to do it across an entire album. If you look at the career of AR Rahman sir, in the beginning, even as he did films like Roja, Gentleman and Thiruda Thiruda, he also got the opportunity to compose music for movies like KizhakkuCheemayile and Karuthamma. For me, I fell in place only with Mynaa. I was exploring and it finally happened one day. That said, it doesn’t mean that I did not have that musical expertise earlier or wasn’t taking calculated decisions. In fact, that learning curve still exists for me.
How do you see your journey in the 10 years since Mynaa?
I think I’ve earned a name as someone who can ride both the horses. I mean people approach me for both offbeat films and also hero-centric commercial projects. I’d credit this to Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam, which took me to the nook and cranny of the so-called B and C centres, building upon the name that Mynaa and Kumki had given me. Its success ensured that I got the opportunity to explore the commercial music space as well. Over the years, it gave me a reputation as a composer who could do all kinds of films.
We saw one version of you in the first 10 years, and another version in these past 10 years. So, what’s the Imman of the next 10 years going to be like?
Frankly, I never looked at it this way. That is why I don’t have the mind-set that I should change gears now because 10 years have passed. It is the films that actually chart your course. You take on a new avatar for the sake of that film, and that sets the tone. You can never intentionally do that. Something about the film will excite youand bring about that change in you, and shape your future self as an artiste. Ultimately, we are composing music for a film, so it is only natural that the film dictates this change. My long-term wish is to do a period film or an entirely musical script, the kind that we used to get earlier… like Sindhu Bairavi or Sankarabharanam. I’d say the last film that came in this space was Sangamam. So, I am looking out for such projects, and perhaps, such a project might bring forth a new dimension of myself.