The song Padakali from the Malayalam film Yodha is one of AR Rahman's earliest compositions. The comic song, sung by MG Sreekumar and KJ Yesudas, is also one of the handful songs Rahman composed in Malayalam, as the maestro never returned to Malayalam cinema after Yodha. Interestingly, the long gap will be broken by another Mohanlal film, Mahabharata, for which Rahman is the composer.
25 years since it was written, the Padakali song has been given a new life, thanks to a new rendition by the Orfeo Quintet. In the 1992 film directed by Sangeeth Sivan, Mohanlal plays Thaiparambil Ashokan, who rescues the Rimpoche of a Nepalese Buddhist monastery from black magicians. Jagathi Sreekumar plays the cousin who is forever at loggerheads with Mohanlal's character, and the song Padakali captures one of their face-offs.
The rendition by the Orfeo Quintet, which has no vocals and only instrumental music, has gone viral. Many have pointed out that although the song does not have any accompanying lyrics, it captures the energy of the heated argument that the original version had.
Celebrities from Mollywood have also shared the video, applauding the team for taking one of Malayalam cinema's most iconic songs and taking it beyond the borders of Kerala.
The Orfeo quintet consists of Robin Thomas (Piano), Carol George (Violin), Francis Xavier (Violin), Harold Antony (Viola), Maria Grigoreva (Cello), Binoy Joseph Kurisingal (Percussion), and Benhar Thomas (Drums). The credits for string arrangement go to Rex Isaacs.