Friday, August 31, 2007

Child Prodigy or Child labour?

One of the things we discussed on Aahaa Kaapi Klub. A man in China is making his 8 yeur old child run for more than 3500 kms as preps for the Olympics. More or less the distance from Chennai to Delhi. Not to mention a man made his 1 1/2 year old child swim in Chennai. Their so many seconds of fame. I seriously believe all these parents who make their children undergo unnatural exertion must be put behind bars. Avariciousness and not allowing the child to enjoy something as beautiful as childhood. I wonder whether this is something typical of Asian countries. Too much population, the drive to prove oneself in an ocean of people and the innate desire to stand out. If not oneself, then may it be his child.
A lot of talented singing children lose their singing voices by the time they are actually ready to perform and sing. Mom always used to watch in dismay in several occasions, especially the boys, she noted have a total loss of resonator in the early stages of voice transition. She says that there are several children's orchestra cropping up every day and the tyranny is that exerting boys after 12 years of age and girls after 13 years proves disastrous to the resonators in children. This need to be addressed on an elaborate platform and she hopes that it will be done soon. But do the avaricious parents realise that they are ruining the entire singing future of the children by doing this, never allowing them to learn properly, even before starting to learn the kids are forced to perform and earn. As is clear, nothing very different from child labour. Excepting that educated parents subject their children to such torture. By the time they grow up and truly understand the depth and beauty of music they probably will be bored and in some cases grow to dislike the art form. I am sooo glad that I have a mother who is knowledgeable and had the wisdom of not taking me around this way, and this was also the reason that she did not want me to perform when I was young. To this day she stresses that I should sing only when I want to and only if I truly enjoy it.
When I was about 12-13, I had the opportunity to meet the scholar T Vishwa and he said that I will thank my mother in the future because she did not put me in this "stupid practice of child prodigy and sing in every other street in the city". As a child, my mother did not allow me to participate in too many competitions. My entry in Saptaswarangal was quite by accident. And I never appeared in any other talent hunt thereafter. And 9 years down the line, people still remember my singing in the show, and not just that, even the colour of my dress on that day and my hairstyle. When I eventually did appear in a Talent Hunt, it was as a special guest, or a judge in some cases. Post ASSJ, I understand the velocity of what he said and these are times I thank all the stars and Gods that I have a parent who is one of the wisest in the field of music. To this day, and forever she will always remind me that it is better to be a good person than a great singer. Which I think every parent with a talented child must do. Encouragement is great, but constant reminders to learn and re-equip oneself, to push the child to grow as a complete individual is the parent's responsibility, which sadly a lot of them do not do. And the day anyone feels that he is the best in something that he is doing that is the end of the road for him.

Art constantly reminds a person that he is inadequate and that there is more to conquer. And to be an artiste in a life itself is a lesson in simplicity. Albert Einstein believed he was still a student of Physics until the day he breathed his last. Of course this is no parallel as long as art is concerned, but I could not but help bringing him up here.

Yes, it is sometimes necessary to showcase a young talent to the world at times, but not an exercise so regular and a daily rum-drum that by the time the children grow up, people lose interest. Of course the children also believe, due to lack of proper guidance from their parents, that they are better than the best in the world. And there stops learning.

A lot of times, nature also seems to teach lessons to men, as soon as the race believes that there is achievement and they have controlled her, there is a new problem. Nature is the biggest road roller of human audacity and ego. Every time there is a natural mishap, people temporarily go into a phase of introspection and then its back to the grind. Just like the temporary phase of "we re born alone and die alone" when we visit someone's funeral. Some also make a weak "I will lead a righteous life" that lasts a few hours.

I probably received this comment on this blog, Oscar Wilde's quote is classic, "I am not young enough to say I know everything".
Even when learned people advise these parents with singing children to take a break, they refuse to see the point. Hey, its all in the money, right? Why let children be fireflies when they can be torches?

Sigh and bigger sigh. After a point in time everyone gives up. And they let time be the tutor. Which is also probably why learned, experienced people do not waste their breath too much in a lot of cases. If they see promise somewhere they would probably give a hint. If the recipient is smart enough to take it, good, otherwise, as they say, time will tell. And it tells all.

Aahaa Kaapi Klub - Callers

I have been getting callers live from the US for Aahaa Kaapi Klub for the past couple of days and not to forget, Bhavani from Mumbai as well.
To all those who have read my blog and called in, THANKS A TON. It means a lot to me.
We usually have a screening process before going on air and in some cases we might have to put the callers on hold for more than 10 minutes depending on when they called in. Despite this, the timing somehow worked out and we were able to speak to a couple of people the past two days (Kumar and Suresh probably, will have to check and edit this line alone). I remember there were other callers earlier last week.
For those who would like to call us on our show, Please do. I am extremely honoured that people call up from so far. FYI, the number to call is 91-44-66110000. Between 8:00 nd 9:00 AM IST, for my show in particular.
Also, if in case you are not able to listen to Aahaa FM on the web due to some technical difficulties that you believe could be from our side, please do let us know by dropping a comment.
Once again, thanks a lot :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Latest - Shyam Milan in 'Agra'

Surprising but true, an out and out Tamil movie has a Hindi song, a Bhajan to be precise.
The day I landed up to record this song, it was pretty late. That particular day was kinda busy so this recording was scheduled for around 8 pm. We recorded this song in Rayhana ji's studio. I heard the track and was waiting for him to play something else, but was stunned when I was handed the lyrics and asked to sing. It has the asthayi and antara. Not too lengthy. The music director, Mr Balu played the track and asked me to pick up the tune, which I duly did. The way the song started, and the way it sounded on my headphones as soon as I entered the voice booth..... super. Once inside, we kept going to make expressions better, sangati-s better. Around the end of the song, he asked me finish off with a slight sob.
It so happened that as the recording progressed - the session probably lasted an hour or probably less, it was hard to control breaking down. I tried my best to reserve it for the safe, private confines of home. But when it was time to record the last portion, it just so happened that I broke out crying. Mr Balu was unnecessarily apologetic, he did not know why in God's name I was crying. He probably thought it was because of singing the same lines over and over again. Of course I'd have loved to go on.. anyway. I do not know why I broke down, lyrics, or the notes, the composition or the heady mix of it all. Or probably a God knows. But post the real sobbing session, my sinuses took awhile to clear and we successfully finished the song.
This song, Shyam Milan, will always be one of the closest to my heart.
Listen to it here

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rumour Has it..

That Ferrari is going to start retailing in India.. This is my dream car.. and yeah I know the Ferrari or most super cars are not Indian-Roads friendly, blind spots and all that.. but *sigh* can't shake this mega attachment I have towards this car.. :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Aahaa Kaapi Klub had a few callers from the US of A while I was talking live on the show. Of course, I was more than pleasantly surprised, and then I figured that they were listening to it as-it-happens on the web. Damn cool I'd say. I dont know if the other stations in Chennai have this facility.
To everyone else who have mailed/commented/scrapped me about the link
Listen up, and if you are lucky we' ll hand you a Diamond ring!!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sri Lanka concert

Harish Raghavendra and I performed at the "Mega Blast 2007" in Colombo yesterday to a crowd of about 20,000 50,000 (as reported by the people from there.. got a lot of mails asking me to correct it). We were the only two singers from India.
The band that played to our songs is based in Colombo and so were the dancers.
The hotel where we stayed had a breath taking view of the sea. And all I had to do was just open my eyes in the right direction :) Great view to wake up to. One thing that I noticed that there is almost nil humidity, and though I expected the running water in the hotel to be salty, I was pretty surprised that we had soft water and it was kinda sweet as well. And the air was not the kind which leaves you with a sticky feeling that makes you run to the shower once you hit home. The kinda feeling you have when you visit Bombay or the Marina beach.
The concert was great, I had one of the best receptions ever. The cheering and support was more than awesome to say the least and it was an exhilarating feeling to perform to such people. As is common knowledge Sri Lanka is not undergoing the best of times and when people from India come to perform for them they demonstrate their support each time we go up on stage. Especially when I sang Kannathil Muthamittaal some sections of the audience sang along. And of course the response to Sahana was mind blowing. All thanks to Rahman Sir.
There were other performers from Colombo, namely a singer called Ginger. She was exceptional in her performance and I was left gaping at the way she danced and jumped about and sang perfectly. And Live. She also happened to jump off from the stage and go to the audience, and come back, all this while singing! I am gonna join a gym and start running. I can hope to dance and sing properly in the near future then!
There were also other bands and singers as well as the dancers. The show was organized by the Colombo based Sooriyan FM. In total a concert trip that we are super happy about! :)
The pictures will be up on my photo blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Aahaa Kaapi Klub on Aahaa 91.9 FM

I am now given the Godly hours of the morning between 7 and 10 am on weekdays to host Aahaa Kaapi Klub on 91.9 FM.
This comes as a blessing as I have the whole day starting from 10 AM at my disposal to go about my routines and pack in some more learning.
We went live on air this morning and I had my usual jitters. As time goes I should be able to handle it well. And I am getting super support from my people.
I had gone to the Gymkhana Club yesterday evening for the concert of Usha ji celebrating the Independence Day eve. It was great fun, and this was the first time I saw her live in action. She is more than awesome to say the least. The Super singer junior kids were also there, Vignesh, Krishnamoorthy and Saicharan who also sang a song each. And so did I. The way Usha ji interacts with the audience is mind blowing and there is so much to learn from her.
Something that crossed my mind, actually it has been crossing to and fro for quite a while, it is just that people spend so much money in clubs and elitist gatherings. Even the youngsters today decide to blow enough dough pubbing and partying.
Instead of people blaming the government and politicians all the time, would it be so tough if people took matters in their own hands and started eradicating slums? For starters that is? I will not take this crap that India is a poor country. It definitely is not. There is enough money in every country, especially with the people. Its good thing to save for our own gray years and for posterity, but why not get things done with the same money?
I had a fleeting look at a newspaper today, not sure whether it was the DC or the Indian express supplement. It carried an article on two guys who took it upon themselves to work on the potholes themselves. Disclaimer again that I have not read the article, it was only the eyecatcher that I saw. And why because one of the guys is Vijay, who is part of the Knowledge Foundation (a national network of entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts) , whose latest super work was
Kiruba Shankar is also part of the Knowledge foundation, which is how I knew about it in the first place. And also because of Podworks that they organized.
Probably its time that we learnt not to blame another for things that we can rectify. And start working as individuals, small teams and bigger teams, and even bigger teams to see a happier country. I think this should be child's play for school and colleges to achieve, they have the strongest and the most proactive section of the population with them.
BTW with regard to the previous post on trees, G N Chetty road is losing more by the day, and I wonder whether any of the authorities have heard about something called Global Warming. Its not really a new concept, is it?
And yes my show on Aahaa FM also debates such issues. This is in reply to a comment asking me to discuss it. We did it in my show in the afternoon, and it shall continue in a more concentrated fashion. And hey we are giving away diamond rings every hour on the show. 15 diamond rings are up for grabs every week. And if you wanna win, tune in and listen up!

P.S.: I have used this blog as a sounding board sometimes, and sometimes just as a diary logging what goes through my mind sometimes, as a notebook and have let my imagination take flight. I am concerned about the city. And I am not a cribber. I have noticed that there were communities for me on orkut and as of now there are 2000+ members. And I wrote in asking people who are interested to come forward. Of course things like this need constant firing. And dedication. I am as normal as anyone else. I am a singer and most of my time will definitely go in learning. But I want to do my bit. If it works out and if there are people like me who want to get down and dirty their hands, and if it lasts, it will be a dream come true. If it does not work out, I will be glad later that I at least tried wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My heart bleeds to see the avenue trees on G N Chetty road being hacked off. G N Chetty road is one of the very few areas to have the luxury of avenue trees and where we can get some get some clean air when we drive down after all the engines have finished choking coughing and sputtering on those roads. Mom and I caught a few glimpses of the trees being hacked off late last night while driving back from a movie.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Marathi - Done!

A BIG thank you to everyone who gave me contacts for the Marathi Linguists. Esp
Mr Gopal, Bhavani and Shankar. Deepak, Karthik Murali- thank you, but I had already spoken to the linguist by the time you sent me your ID.
And to everyone else. :)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I had blogged about a friend wanting to buy a TV and a car. She finally bought a Sharp Aquos and a Hyundai Verna. Thank You to everyone who helped!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Bheema - Enadhuyire and etc.

That would be the next song. I have sung this song along with Sadhna Sargam and Sowmya Raoh and Nikhil Mathew, the Super Singer winner last year. He has had to wait for a year after the announcement of the results to get a break in the movies and I know for a fact that it has not been very easy even though an opportunity was promised with Harris Jeyaraj sir.
Only as long as talent hunts last, is it easy for the participants. And probably if you are a winner, a short time thereafter. Once the novelty fades, winner or not, everyone has to pave their own hard way through for opportunities. One thing, Nikhil has had his head on his shoulders, unlike, surprisingly, some contestants in the Super Singer Junior.
Nowadays the Airtel Super Singer Junior claims that professional singers have a few go-s at recording the song. He also claims that songs like Balleilaka have been achieved not by singers but only due to machines. I wonder what the parents are doing. Rather, the problem here is that the parents themselves claim that their children are way better than all the musicians in the industry put together. I am guessing he is surrounded by wrong advisers. Its surprising to see how quickly fame gets to the heads of children, and unfortunately their families as well, and they suddenly lose sight of the ground they stand on. As the SSJ progressed, I saw several kids develop audacity and attitude problems, not behaving properly with the crew, demanding to be treated as celebrities, and treating media like pith, when legends like Dr Balamuralikrishna, came and went unobtrusively. Today the demands of some of the children are sky-high. Also demanding to be paid in concerts as much as the top professional singers would be paid.
Talent is available aplently today, but talent is the raw material. Without studentship and intense learning on several stages sustenance of the art will not be there. Too much emphasis on concerts and making money and earning turns them to be child labourers. It may be an artistic area, but even then, a child worker is a child worker.
I feel like bringing in the parallel of diamonds here. Unless they are cut properly no brilliance can be achieved. And the cut is what makes the difference between a mere stone, an inferior diamond and a superior one. And somewhere down the line, the kids lose focus on learning and achieving more. And stagnate. Mom has seen several children with great talent, who showed great promise not come up as brilliant musicians as they were touted to become.
Talent hunts are great, to build confidence to be able to interact with stalwarts with whom we might otherwise interact as beginners, a teaser as to how to conduct yourself in front of popular media, to learn from our own flaws, because these give us the rare opportunities to watch ourselves in action, and with shows like SSJ, its like a music camp of learning as well.
Three days back, a senior journalist from the Indian Express wanted to me talk about life after Talent Hunts. Of course I could not speak to her at the time she called to give her my opinion, because I could not even make up my mind about whether I wanted to speak out about these children in particular to the popular media. I also had to consult mom on whether it was OK to talk about it. Of course by the time I called her back, two hours later, she was angry and I could not speak to her. This question is probably going to come back sooner or later.
There were times when it was hard for me to interact with the judges while the children were there on the same stage as I, because they would be constantly muttering under their breaths and commenting, rudely a lot of times as well. And I would lose track, stare at the children and go back to take once again. SSJ was more stressful than I thought it would be. The crew of course had a tougher time. A lot of people spoke about the 'drama' but probably the greatest was played by the children, and sometimes their parents. All that the crew, the judges and I could do was watch and be silent spectators. As they say, the show had to go on. And the children behaved well as soon as the cameras rolled. Of course some passed comments even while the cameras were on. Chitra amma gave a parting shot, that it is very important to continuously learn, respect the parents and elders and other musicians however small they are and to be humble more than anything else. Looks like it has fallen on deaf ears. And yes, in SSJ there are children who are well brought up. But only 3 or 4.
After seeing these talent hunts, I believe that bringing back the Gurukula system and home-schooling would probably be a better way to bring up children, instead of sending them to school, and them learning all the beeped out words before they are 10.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Here I come.
This is an SOS for someone who knows Marathi for a translation project.
the linguist who is supposed to have delivered this work on SUNDAY is unreachable, does not reply to calls or to mails. So much for professionalism.
The people I work with are all freelancers and they are answerable only with regard to the project. To everyone who said that I have to be a good manager and team work and all that, the question does not arise, because they do not come to my office and work. They work from their own homes/offices. Which is why someone has to keep their ethics in place, and at least tell us that they cannot take up the assignment because of something else. And as said before this happens mostly with Indian translators.
Anyway I will have to keep my word to my client, and if you are / know of someone who knows Marathi, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The attempts to crack seem to continue. It is extending to my other ID-s. Which are not so public though. Every mail ID of mine gets a mail from accounts no reply to reset password.
Wow wayy too many interested people I say!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Watching movies had become a past time that I indulge in. At times. There are days when Mom and I haunt a multiplex for two - three days in a row, if time so permits, finish watching all the movies and not go back to the theater for several weeks.
And some times, while travelling, we get to watch movies in-flight. I watch several movies in licensed DVDs. (sorry had to reaffirm that) Depending on how involved I was with certain characters in the film, I sometimes have an accent hangover from the characters in the movie. I must however admit that this has happened with all the movies were Old English is spoken. Like say Shakespeare in Love, The Girl with the Pearl Earrings.
Some movies you watch and then not think much about it thereafter. And some movies mess with your head, question beliefs, things you have been buying. Several things actually. And one such is the Blood Diamond. I am no movie reviewer, and I do not even want to try. The title according to the wiki refers to Blood Diamonds that are diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance conflicts. There were some theories I'd like to say which the movie put forth as to why diamonds are so expensive. Works on the very day-to-day cut-supply-increase-demand concept. The movie also portrayed the character of Mandy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), who is the journalist covering the war and the illegal diamond trade. The character made me admire the guts of investigative journalists the world over and those who pursue stories to strive and bring justice with just a few pints of ink from their pens or let me say some units of electricity from their PCs, risking their lives more often than not.
There was another line that the character of Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) says in the movie, "I do not understand why my own people would commit such atrocities against their kind". Not the exact words. Though it has been in front of my eyes probably for ever it was like snap-wake-up to the fact that one man will easily destroy another for his own good.
Also there was was another section in the movie, questioning whether men were good or bad. And finally Danny Archer (Dicaprio) says men are just men. It's what they do that makes them good or bad.
The question of Good and Bad would probably be one of the oldest arguments ever. Who decides what is good or bad? What is good to one may be bad for another. Is there but anything in the world that has gained uniform acceptance by all beings? I would dare to say no. (Once, an ex supreme court judge was my co passenger in one of the flights, I could not help asking him questions on his career. Of course he spoke to me as an elder would speak to a child, telling me that there is good in the world. Nothing has fallen apart. And of course I did not get answers to my questions)
Once questions start coming its frustrating to know that there are almost no answers. And probably there are not many to give them. If the Himalayan Masters were to listen to my rants, they would probably just smile. I have always wanted to know right from my early teens about where we come from where we go. Even if there are previous lives and after lives, what is the reason for this whole game?
Are we actually our own masters? Writers of our own destiny? I do believe that it is upto us to take the road that is oft travelled or the one less travelled. Perhaps there is more to "The Road not taken" by Robert Frost, than meets the eye. Of course, Very clearly its about choices made. If each lifetime is a lesson to be learnt, and we do not get it right in the first go, and say, we come back until we do learn, and then there are new lessons. And once all that has been learnt, whither destination? I sometimes wonder what it would be like to know everything, have the answers to every question. In that case, would living become meaningless? Because I am not searching for anything? There is no need, no want, no goal to achieve?
We brought nothing, go with nothing, and what happens, has happened, will happen is for the good. So are our choices already written destiny or does destiny get written as it happens while we make our choices, (but then wont it be case-history)?
I have but started learning the first notes in music and by the time I learn of and learn the ultimate cosmic symphony? How much longer?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Once every three or four days I get a password assistance mail from google to my alternate email ID.
Now why would I get that when I have not forgotten my password? Is this also one of the super spams?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

What happens when you leave your car windows open on a rainy night?
You get wet upholstery and pretty sad car in the morning.
Thats exactly the state my car is in.. First time in the so many years that I have driven around. Blleaargh!