Season 4, Episode 1 of Little Things (2021).
Song: Kaanthaa by Masala Coffee
It has been approximately 7 years since ‘Little Things’ first came out on YouTube, and 7 years since its two leads, Dhruv and Kavya changed the face of how millennial relationships are represented in Indian media. In season 4 (now on Netflix!), having moved past their honeymoon phase, Dhruv and Kavya are now encountering real-world problems, financial crunches, and the challenges of being in a long-distance relationship.
The first episode of the season opens with Dhruv and Kavya reuniting in Kerala, on a much needed vacation from their long distance relationship; and about 8 minutes in, kicks off the brilliant musical piece that is our topic of discussion for the day. ‘Kanthaa’, sung, rearranged and produced by Masala Coffee and their vocalists Sooraj Santhosh and Varun Sunil, is a feel-good number set over visuals of the picturesque, natural locales of Kerala.
When I first decided to write about this song, I thought it was simply an excellent piece of original music commissioned to Masala Coffee by the showmakers; but my friend happened to overhear and told me that this was a song they recognised from their childhood. Kaanthaa as we know it, is the namesake, and a modern remake of an old Malayalam song about the Thrissur Boat Festival. A clever little easter egg that most people would never notice, since a lot of the song’s visuals take place on or around a boat, with a lot more water-based imagery being perpetually present. The lyrics of “Kaanthaa” speak to the longing and yearning experienced in long-distance relationships, capturing the essence of Kavya and Dhruv’s journey, enhanced even further by Masala Coffee’s soulful rendition.
What I really loved about Kaanthaa, is how they’ve stayed true and closely followed the vocal and lyrical structure of the original – sung by the late Malayali actor and musician Nedumudi Venu. (Source) Masala Coffee and Neel Adhikari, who did the music for the show, gave the original just what it needed – a fresh new voice, a light and modern beat and an absolutely spot-on placement. This adaptation not only pays homage to Kerala’s cultural heritage but also showcases the musicians’ ability to create a seamless blend of tradition and modernity that serves as a powerful catalyst to the episode’s storyline and it’s establishment.
Founded in 2014 by Varun Sunil, Masala Coffee is the only Indian band to perform for films produced in Mollywood, Kollywood, Tollywood, and Sandalwood – and in all four languages! The band’s impressive line-up consists of nine songwriters, artists, and dreamers who tap into South India’s rich musical and poetic heritage to create a contemporary and global sound. Comparing the Indian indie music scene to commercial music in films, frontman Varun was quoted saying, “Music for a film depends on the director. You have limitations in terms of freedom. But if I want to do Carnatic music mixed with electronic trans — and add some sort of dubstep to the mix, I can do it and release it independently. We as a band are open to doing both. Whether we work solo or in a movie, you will always find the essence of our music, our brand will be visible to the audience and they can identify that this is Masala Coffee.” (Source)
This show is available for viewing on Netflix