(Right) Shweta Mohan with Maithri Srikant

Singer Shweta Mohan and friend Maithri Srikant call their musical collaboration ‘Sthree – The Anthem’, “a celebration of womanhood that promotes gender equality and empowerment of women.” The song was released on Shweta’s YouTube channel on March 5, ahead of International Day for Women. 

The song starts on a peppy note with the foot-tapping refrain ‘Penne…penne…penne…uyare..uyare…uyare…’, ( loosely translated it means ‘girl, rise’) which is an exhortation for women and girls to get going. Shweta has composed and sung the song with its Malayalam lyrics written by Anu Elizabeth. The song which is out in four languages — Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi— has been the labour of a few years, the pandemic included.  Shweta and Maithri have been friends for more than 20 years. 

“It is all Maithri,” says Shweta, talking of how ‘Sthree…’ came to be. She recalls Maithri as being one of the first people who suggested that she should compose music, long before her musical, birthday tribute to KJ Yesudas, ‘Gandharva Gaayaka’ in 2021.

Having made her musical debut as a child; Shweta has sung for music directors AR Rahman, Illayaraja, M Jayachandran, MM Keeravani, Sharreth, GV Prakash, and Anirudh Ravichandar among others. Maithri, meanwhile, is a designer with her own store and label, Vedhika in Thiruvananthapuram. 

The idea of the song germinated with a poem Her Kaleidoscope that Maithri had written a few years earlier. “Over the years and our many conversations, the shape of it changed. When Anu translated it into Malayalam, it acquired a different flavour and it became this song,” says Maithri who wrote the chorus. The pair went back and forth until the song, in its current form, took shape.

“We didn’t want the song to be preachy; we wanted it to be something we would like to listen to, one that inspires women to enjoy the sweetness of life and achieve their dreams,” says Maithri. Keeping the song’s optimistic vibe, cancer awareness too has been embedded in the video in the form of pink and blue ribbons that show up in the montage, signifying awareness about breast and cervical cancer respectively.

The video has been directed by Sharon K Vipin and cinematography by Amosh Puthiyattil. Shweta makes a special mention of mixing engineer Abin Pushpakaran. 

The stylishly shot video stars inspiring women such as IPS officer and Ironman S Ajeetha Begum, Arunima Sinha, the world’s first female double amputee to scale Everest, acid attack survivor Daulat Bi Khan, and disability rights activist and educator Tiffany Brar among others. 

The idea of the song resonated with Shweta. “I absolutely love my father, but I have been inspired by the women in my family — my grandmother and my mother. And for that reason, this song resonated with me.” Collaborating with a friend made the experience of creating the song,” she adds. 

The song is also available on audio streaming platforms Spotify and Apple Music. 


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