Evergreen Unni Menon at Retro Rahman

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YEARS in the business, veteran playback singer, Unni Menon has seen it all. Known for his melodic renditions, Menon entered the music scene with no training whatsoever. Years into it, he became the most sought-after singer in the 90s and early 2000s, establishing himself in the circuit.

Recently in Kuala Lumpur for Mojo Projects’ Retro Rahman, a tribute concert to music maestro AR Rahman, Menon sat down with Writelah! for a catch up.

Now in his 25th year into playback singing, the 61-year-old sang the first hit Rahman produced for Mani Ratnam’s Roja. Pudhu Vellai Mazhai soared the chats and is close to the hearts of many till today.

“I knew the song was unique somehow, but did not expect it to be such a success,” Menon said, adding that he has sung 26 songs for Rahman.

Writelah: How has AR Rahman impacted your career?

Menon: Rahman has impacted my career in a big way. I had been singing since 1981, in Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu. But, the big boost came when I did Roja in 1992. Since then, I’ve toured with him extensively, learning a lot about music making along the way.

Writelah: Both you and Unnikrishnan (who was also down for Retro Rahman) are master of melodies. What do you think of the music that the film industry is producing these days? Especially on its lack of melody.

Menon: 80s and 90s demanded a lot of melodies and the film genres needed the melodies. Music directors these days need the music to just run the film. They are telling the stories in a different concept, they run the music just to tell the story. Music is not a desirable factor that is why melodies are affected in movies these days.

Writelah: I am sure you have a discipline that sustains your good vocals. Could you please let us in on it?

Menon: It depends on different body constitutions, what suits you might not suit me. I sleep 7 to 8 hours at night. If I don’t sleep well, the next day I can feel my voice trembling. I take an early dinner, sleep early, rise early, go for a walk or do yoga. That has sustained me in the industry, but that may not work for youngsters. Having said that, it has sustained me for 36 years now. Also, you must take care of your food. Food is medicine. I don’t take spicy food, oily food and ice-cold things. It doesn’t suit me. When I do crave it I’ll take it but I’ll make sure there are no concerts.

Writelah: Could you please sing us your favourite AR Rahman song? It does not have to be one of your songs.

Menon was here courtesy of Mojo Projects and their concert series. Mojo Projects have paved the way as a competitive concert organiser, setting the bar for excellence since their first concert MILFF2016.

This year, Mojo Projects gave Malaysian music fans three intimate concerts – Madras, An 80s Musical; Tripe Treat, Battle of the Bands and Retro Rahman, A Tribute.

Happening on Sept 8 is MILFF2018 at Stadium Juara Bukit Kiara. The line-up includes contemporary singer Benny Dayal, jazz songstress Andrea Jeremiah, sitar extraordinaire Rajhesh Vaishya and guitarist Sean Roldan. Joining them on stage will be our very own Sasi The Don and #PU4LYF. Tickets can be obtained at www.airasiaredtix.com or call 012-2000505.

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