Thursday, December 31, 2009

A year end post

How cheesy I thought. I still think that as I am keying in this. But then what the heck. I don't have a title of being non-cheesiest person ever. So here I am writing my final post of 2009.

I am wondering if it is just me or all the festivals or holidays or special days and new years , that is, all the new years days that we have as Indians during the course of a  Gregorian calendar year are increasingly becoming less significant for me. I remember being more excited about a new year or any other festival when I was younger. Now it seems like someone is puling the brakes on the things I am doing. But then for those of us, who love to work throughout, I worked today and I shall be working tomorrow too. Holidays weekdays weekends. Makes no difference. Maybe one of the times when the line rings true that when we enjoy what we do as work, its no longer a task.

The past 10 days however, passed in a blur of losing my voice. The weather change between Chennai and Kuwait and London, the change in water did not do me any good. Something which kept me down in the dumps and gave me a holiday without my consent. I am slowly gaining my voice back. It will be a couple more days until it is back to normalcy.

I realize I have spent a considerable amount of this year in reflection, contemplation and questioning my belief systems, opinions, thoughts, which has in turn led to seeking answers, reading voraciously and finding some answers and of course, a lot more questions. At this point I went back to read my blogs through this year and yes it has been eventful personally too. As I have said earlier my blog is not a log of everything that happens in my life or all the thoughts that I have ever had.  I logged into twitter and like to 'follow' the people I like and read their opinions 140 characters at a time. 

But looking back on 12 months leaves some placid thoughts. I have spent an entire year, and 4 months of 2008 chasing a dream which has still not realized. Which I hope and pray will come to fruition in 2010. But then some things take their time. I keep telling myself to believe in the one thing that does repeat in my life. That when you want something truly the Universe conspires to make it happen for you. But when you are counting it one day at a time, it becomes grueling at times. I am trying to remember how I passed the time from when I decided I want to be a playback singer and that I wanted a break from Rahman sir until it happened. Schooling of course. But I kept the wish kept simmering. It was a constant. Now, I remind myself of that time. And how dreams have come true.

And some dreams I have never had also did come true. Like say, dubbing.  An experience I am truly beginning to enjoy as time goes by. I am getting to know even more that the amount of work that goes in the making of a movie is phenomenal. But I ll blog about this later.

Being at BAFTA and singing there in front of Rahman sir less than a couple of weeks ago. Of course every song that I sing and when I see my name again on the CD cover is a dream come true.

TEDxChennai will be a day that will forever be close to my heart. Thanks again to Kribs for introducing me to something that has the capacity to be life changing. And hearing Mr Hegde speak at NIT Surathkal was magical.

The year had been a revelation for me with respect to people I know as well. Like perhaps every other year, but especially this one was an eye opener.

The one moment which gave me a super fright and numbed me completely were these couple of hours, when I had returned late from a recording. I ring the bell. Then I make a call on my mother's phone. I ring the bell through the course of the call. Then disconnect and call the phone again. Keep ringing the bell more. Keep calling. And mind you, my doorbell, can make you jump or even curse it at times because of its loudness. Then I started pounding on the door with all my might. Called out to mom. By which time neighbours had woken up and started asking me weird questions. Panic, fear, hope, panic and then the numbness started happening. My mom is a light sleeper. She always has been. If I perhaps cough in the middle of the night in the next room, she ll check to see if I am OK.

That night however, she did not wake up. I remember clutching my bag and walking down wondering what I am going to do. Went up and continued the whole exercise again. To no avail. After 3 and a half hours, my mom wakes up after I ring the bell once after perhaps 45 minutes from the previous exercise. And she said "Vandhuttiya kanna... recording eppo mudinjudhu?" All I remember was collapsing in her arms weeping away and weeping through my sleep or whatever there was of it. She, for her part could not understand how she could have slept through all that, but she did.
Yeah, you ll now think, why don't you have a spare key? One of those days, that I did not take them.

The year was eventful in a good way too. For Blue Elephant as well. I am seeing our elephant grow :)

However, I pray that I'll get to work better, be a better musician and an artiste in the year that is to come.

To you however, I wish that you have a wonderful lovely together time with you and yours. May you feel a sense of belonging with those you love, may you be loved, may you be happier in your work or may you have the guts to follow your dreams and have a career of your dreams. or learn the skills that will make the career of your dreams. May you find moments to cherish, moments to shed a couple of tears too. Tears that will take the weight off your shoulders. And if you are not one of them, may you have be blessed to shed the tears as well. Just a little bit. Just enough.
May you feel the belonging with the Universe and with yourself.
With all my heart I wish you love, laughter, joy, peace, contentment, money to blow and money to save, enough time to do what you want and that you have to, to be with those whom you love, to do things that you want to do, to read, to listen to music, or learn a new skill.
May you truly be loved by all those you know and may you too truly love all those you know.

P.S.: As for resolutions, I hope to be able to devote more time to learning the Sarangi and the Piano. Hopefully I ll be at a different level, this time next year.  I am going to watch this space myself.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Vinnnaithaandi Varuvaaya Launch in London

The performance in Kuwait and staying with the family there was pretty nice. Got to know some good people and someone said, Kuwait paakka paakka dhaan pidikkum. Paatha udane pidikkaadhu. The roads are great and I was impressed to know that basic food is kept very very cheap so that the poor can still afford it. Wish something like that was there in India. Here the Aam Aadmi and the not so Aam Aadmis will have to pay 120/- for a kilo of pulses. After a point in time, we being who we are, we get used to what we have around. As humans we can live with the bare minimum and in opulence. I liked the fact that there is no water shortage there due to desalination processes. If they can, I wonder why we cannot. I didn't have time to go around but I did have dinner at Pizza hut. I liked the weather there too. It was bearable. From there to London, first day was OK. Day 2 was freezing.
I landed in London and went straight to the hotel we were staying and to the rehearsals that were happening. Hectic activity there and butterflies had started off in my stomach big time. After rehearsals, I had enough time to get ready and leave to the BAFTA. One of the most interesting things about the event was the formal dress code. Something that is not seen at an audio launch here. And as Shreeni sir said this is something that almost never happens and we should take pictures of it as proof. I had never seen Shreeni sir in that sort of formals before. Or most of the other singers. Stephen Devassi looked pretty good I thought and Silambarasan was a revelation.
Once at the BAFTA it was quite an experience. Gautham sir hosted the event. He has this wonderful sense of humour and the way he presented the event was sparkly. Three of the songs were presented to the audience there and I loved Hosanna the most. You might have to wait a while before you hear the songs though. The song to look out for in the album is this one sung by Mr Alphonse, a music director in Kerala, for whom I have also sung. He has sung this song called Aaromale magnificently. There is this song, Mannippaya with Shreya Ghoshal and Rahman sir. Deadly lyrics by Thamarai. I have always loved her writing, but I loved this song the most for the lyrics. There is Kannukkul Kannai from Naresh in his usual best. Devan and I have sung Anbil Avan. Omana Penne has Benny singing it and this song hooks on to you. Karthik has sung the title track of Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya and this song and Mannippaaya are Devan's favorites in the album. That Devan plays the guitar was a revelation to me. And he plays it so well. He told me that he always only wanted to be a composer. Singing came by chance. He has done some great work in his upcoming Bale Pandiya. Had the opportunity to listen to a song of his. Blaaze anna has this amazing rap portion in Hosanna. I have always loved his performances and have admired his work. I really wish to work with him soon.
Its tough to say which song I like most. But Hosanna just doesn't get off my mind. Just a few more days and I guess you should be able to hear this one.
I am sure the BAFTA event will be telecast soon. For the rest on what happened, watch it on the telly.
A couple of us along with Thamarai caught this sightseeing Bus that went around London. It was freezing and my hands felt like ice despite the gloves. We walked along Harrod's and  then Oxford Street. But just didn't have enough time for the Thames. It was also strange that it got dark by 3 in the afternoon.
It was great to get to know the Art Director Mr Rajeevan and the editor Anthony. I spent considerable time with Thamarai too and she always referred to the gloves as "Kai Orai". And perhaps I should have recorded her speaking in English. It doesn't happen very often. Thamarai is an engineer for those of you who didn't know and she was saying she used to think up songs while at work.
Later on the 20th evening, Shreeni Sir, Shivakumar, Blaaze anna, Benny and I went off to watch Avatar at Odeon. Loved the way the movie was made. More importantly I loved the ads that were screened before the movie. What creatives! I started getting uncomfortable with the 3D thing after a while. Had a dull headache happening. Thereafter we had dinner at this wonderful restaurant called Rasa and met the man, Mr Das who has 10 such restaurants all over London. I had this incredible Mampazha Pulissery there. Wow. I had never had the chance to taste it before.
The next morning, just enough time for breakfast scooting to the airport. I got to know most of the people from Mr Menon's team and it is a super fun group. I am thankful that I get opportunities like this. Being at the BAFTA was something I didn't think would happen. Not this soon at least. And to be invited to be a part of an audio launch in a different country is new. As I have said before, singers are not invited to the launches in the city. Quite a rarity.
It was a lovely experience and I really do hope I get to go back to London when it is warmer.
Personally it was a great time for introspection too, something I am doing quite a lot these days.  To watch things happening. To know my belief systems and thoughts. And both Kuwait and London were silent enough for that sort of inner tuning. 
To you, who has read this post until now, I wish for you that your dreams get ahead of you, as they have with me at times. May your farthest dreams come true and may you have experiences that you had not dreamed could have happened to you. Good ones that is. May you have moments to cherish, moments to love, moments to live completely, as I have had.

Friday, December 18, 2009

In Kuwait

to perform for the Tamilnadu Engineer's forum. Had quite an unsettling flight here. Flying Oman airways is not a mentally comforting choice especially when someone is flying into the Gulf for the first time.
Worse still, transit at Muscat and there were absolutely no women except one. My aircraft from Muscat to Kuwait had none either. One of the times when you don't want any eyes on you.
Driving from the airport I am wondering why people would live in a country like this. There is not much greenery, at least none that I see at night. Yeah, duh its a desert but still, apparently its the financial benefits of being in a country like this. There are not many options for recreation and entertainment. But the Indian women here have learnt to live with it. Once again, I am amazed at the sacrifices that women make for the sake of family, especially post marriage. The men go to work and they have that occupying their minds while the women have nothing much to do especially after children have grown up.
In the few minutes of conversation that I have had with the two families here, I am given to understand that the children will have to leave this country to return to India or some other country for higher education. They only get visas for visiting or something. They really cannot stay with their parents as long as they want to.
So many times I am thankful to God that I am really living the life that I have wanted to live, in my country, the issues and problems, the system, this that not withstanding. My home is right there, in Chennai. No place else.
And really, hats off to the families who leave a country as beautiful and rich as India in search of a better livelihood. Yeah a lot of them don't have that bonding with India as I myself have known. They are happy to be in the shores that they are in. But this is me.
Tomorrow post concert, I am off to London.
Shall blog about that soon. Quite some stuff to write about.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


throws up a lot of questions. So many. It also leaves me silent for extended periods of time. I am alone in a crowd. Alone in company. And I know that no matter what we are always alone. Until we have found that oneness with the universe. Found our rhythm in the cosmic dance. And then perhaps peace prevails.
I wonder why we take the decisions we do, love the way we do, dislike the way we do, hate the way we do, practise the religions we do or simply live the way we do.
The hows and whys and more on the why nots. The past few days I have been wondering if our forefathers fought for India's freedom only to see the country the way it is today. Most of them would be tired of turning in their graves now. I remember seeing the paper and feeling sick in my heart a few days ago and almost a pall of gloom descended. Yeah, it might sound dramatic. But that's what I am. And then there are times when I go into this phase of indifference.
Nevertheless, reading up on the Upanishads, Vedas and the Vedanta philosophies and Buddhism is making me want to be free. Free of all attachment. Its started up a lot of interesting conversations on faiths and religions, customs and practices of Ancient India and how its evolved over time, with mom. Though I knew this has been her favorite and most important subject for research for decades and she has written so many volumes perhaps by now, which I wish to get published soon, I have never been able to speak to her on this. I have heard her speak to others about it though.
Its quite an interesting time that I am going through, of knowing me and what I am made of. I remember this line from an interview with Keira Knightley or perhaps it was Scarlett Johansson, but I remember that like only too well. That it is imperative to know oneself and what one is made of. And I am questioning a lot of my belief systems and the basis for it.
And someday I ll know true freedom. That is my ultimate goal.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

And I bring home

the State award for Sahana today. It was quite an event and I had gone to meet the Honble Chief Minister yesterday to pay my respects and also thank him for the award. The pictures were there in most Tamil Newspapers today

Shreeni sir, Belli Raj, Mahathi and I performed a medley with Alaap on the guitars and Shyam Benjamin on the Keys. Our rehearsals were great and it came out pretty well on stage too. One of those rare occasions. Usually Murphy's law is at play. Sahana kinda became a tad too slow though. I had my eyes closed while singing and when I opened them I saw the camerman extremely close to my face, one of those shots that they plan. And opening my eyes to the wide lens of a camera in front of me made me gape a bit and the audience had a good laugh over it. That was fun.

Thereafter I came back and settled down in my designated seat and after a while one of the organizers asked me to sing a couple more songs. There was no time to plan and I was clueless on what to do for a few seconds. I went backstage and requested Karthik to sing along and we sang Laesa parakkudhu, followed by Vaarayo Vaarayo and interestingly the Honble Chief Minister's entry happened during that song, precisely when I sang the first line. Some sort of a providence it must have been. Karthik ended that session with his Anjala and then the stage was taken over by some very interesting acts on stage which, I think, would not be right if I wrote about it now. One I don't want to be a killjoy and two, I think the channel would be planning teasers and trailers on what is to come in this show, whenever it is going to be televised. Of course the papers will carry reports and the Tamil dailies may have the details too but I am not sure if I am that great a reporter. If my hunch is right, the show shall be telecast on Kalaignar TV.

Though the seats at the University Centenary auditorium are sooo dated, the seats didn't leave most of us with unnecessary cricks or uncomfortable postures. I find the seats uncomfortable even in the most up-to-date audis in Chennai. But then, its my personal opinion.

And now I am off to get some sleep that has been in serious short supply. In just about a week and a half, I have some hectic travel.

I am performing in Kuwait, at American International School on the 18th of this month. If any of you are there, please do come to the concert. I would love to meet you there.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sleep and Sound

Maddy has sent one link regarding sleep and learning. Very very interesting and all of you should read the article. Our predecessors have made a lot of things available from time immemorial. Only the terminologies were different. I tumbled upon this concept of experimenting sound on sleeping children 23 years back. Chinmayi was also a child born on experiment, which I called as Abhimanyu experiment. This is trying out possibities, while pregnant.

But the above experiments are extremely tricky and need very very careful and methodical application on the experimented. Otherwise it can cause serious damages, sometimes irreparable also. There are certain systematic preparations before and after; so that the brain and the nervous systems are not affected.

Any mistake in these cases will not be immediately visible or felt, but the damages are understood much much later and sometimes remedy is not possible.

That is why I never wrote or published these results.

Today we are confronting self proclaimed prodigies or parents claiming any and every child as a prodigy.

I am more worried about the over ambitious and untrained parents who might plunge into such experiments on their own.

What Mathangi says is also valuable. Music is essentially a karna parampara ... aural tradition! The natural way of teaching to identify ragas were by making the children listen to concerts, acquainting them with the essential movements of ragas so that they can effortlessly identify the raga. All parents play a vital role in this. Beyond what is taught by the guru the parents contribute considerably as in the case of Matangi's father.

The Tone Deaf is a concept which is described as gandu in our ancient texts. Shastra gandu, Sangita gandu, Akshara gandu and so on. A gandu can not transform into super talent.

- Padmhasini

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Performing today at a ChennaiLive Event this evening

I hear its for an invited audience and am looking forward to this. Performing in Chennai after quite a gap.
The day of the concert is usually jam packed with sound checks, though no amount of sound checks can actually prep us for what might actually happen at the time of performing, coordinating with the organizers, order of songs, clothes and accessories (the biggest issue I would say!) for each segment.
And today is one such day. Am off to the sound check in a while. Lady Andal's auditorium is touted to be the best in Chennai now, acoustically. I perform there today and will know first hand what it is like.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A column in Deccan Chronicle from today

A short one though. I was asked to write one for the next five weeks, once a week and I finally did so after thinking a hundred times, refusing saying its not my cup of coffee or perhaps to keep with the mood, my kinda raga. I know that every story is touched but the editor here has taken some sort of a poetic license which is unfortunately not part of who I am. This is the article, which is quite not what I gave in.

A LIGHT chill in the air, newspapers devoting entire supplements to carnatic music and programmes of sabhas and polite enquiries about which kutcheris I plan to attend the season ­ all these signal the arrival of December in Chennai.

My earliest memories of concerts is that of my mother dragging me to the Margazhi season in different sabhas. But I always only ended up embarrassing her by promptly falling asleep at every kutcheri. Whenever she would chide me about my developing groggy eyes the moment we hit the chairs, I would cry out in defence with my pet statement.

"Come on, I am just a little girl." That was when I was four to eight years old.

But sleep was all I could do at concerts. After a point my mom gave up and left me at home which suited me fine since I did not want to spend my Christmas holidays in sabhas when my friends were out playing.

It is strange that someone who was then so stone deaf to music has evolved into not just a singer but also devoted rasika.

And today when I see so many little ones accompanied by their parents, avidly listening to concerts, discussing the ragas in whispers and accompanying the elders with correct thalams, I cannot help recalling how difficult and sleepy I had been at that stage in life.

If this sleepy self can grow up into a performing musician, I am certain that these little stars will hold the flag of carnatic music high and proud in the coming decades.

Every Margazhi this faith gets renewed with greater intensity. Thank you Chennai for that.

For one, I was not the one who went out and played types. Neither did I have a team of friends growing up. The only avocation that I was involved in was learning from my mother, throughout that age and it was anywhere between 5-8 hours of singing a day so that at one point in time, like everyone knows now perhaps, I chucked school after 10th grade, for full time learning. Which I think is the best thing that has happened to me. I am blessed with a visionary mother. For those who gawk at a 4 year old learning music for 5-8 hours a day, don't. Its a very normal thing to do in families with a classical music lineage.

The editor saying that I was "stone deaf" to music makes me smile. I am still not a devoted rasika of the Kutcheri season yet. I still don't go to Carnatic classical concerts. But I am one of the November Fest, the Dance festivals and the theatre fests too. But I do if it were Hindustani classical, dance or a play. Therefore, I am not sure if there are little ones accompanied by their parents really. Listening to a concert for me then was tough. But then there was this time, when there was a Jugalbandhi, of Sri Umayalapuram Sivaraman and Pt Kishan Maharaj and it was just about a couple of days ago, at TEDxChennai, that one of the speakers there, Sharada Ramnathan, who has known me forever told me that I got up and started foot tapping with all the changing rhythms on my chair. She told my mother then that I must pursue music in a very serious way. I was amused when I heard this story cos mom had never mentioned this. Sharada ji told me I had been 4 or something. Some concerts captured my imagination. Most just didn't.

A couple of years ago, I remember listening to Smt Aruna Sairam, Smt Sudha Raghunathan and Sri Unnikrishnan. I enjoyed those.

It remains to be seen whether I am going to be writing something here each time something appears in the DC as 'my' musings.

In the next few days, if not in the DC, I ll tell you why I don't go to Carnatic classical concerts, or rather most of them. Watch this space.

Add on by me, Padmhasini

Chinmayi thinks she was embarrassing me. Actually she didn't. More than being my daughter, she had been the most promising experimental subject for me...rather a guinea pig in my musical experiments.

Those days she was called Padmasini's daughter. I was well known in a certain circle of people. She, as soon as we entered a concert hall, would ask people around, "do you have a paper and a pencil please?" and she would be invariably lucky to get the pair and would write a kind of daily diary or draw people around. Then she will drop of to sleep.

She was a peaceful, very quiet and an obedient girl, never the type to talk back till 17-18. But then sleep was beyond one's control.. isn't it?

According to serious research, the initial hour and a half of sleep is the best period of absorption and makes a better impact than ten hours of active teaching or listening with a conscious effort.

That is precisely the reason why she surprised me several times when forming musical phrases or lines which were not taught by me actually.

There were several first time experiments on her, which proved wonders.

Stone deaf to music? And turning out to be a musical success? I couldn't help smiling when I read those lines. Serious subjects which are exclusive knowledge areas are to be altered or edited consulting the original writer. :)

I am sure the editor of this article in the Deccan Chronicle is not going to like this. We may face some music in retaliation. And we would not have reacted if it is not altering her biographical details.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

TEDxChennai Today!

Had been planning to go for this one and Kiruba had told me a couple of months ago in advance to be, wherever this was going to be happen, on this day. And turns out Kribs asked me to co host the event with him. Sure, hosting shows on TV/Radio and hosting an event of this nature is a totally different thing. And the past couple of days with the personal health ministry going for a strike I had been wondering whether I would be able to pull it off at all. Its 6:27 AM and I am thankfully OK. And off to the venue in a couple of minutes. Shall try my best to blog about this. Tweets are more like it though :)
I am given to understand that there will be a live webcast of the event. is where you should perhaps be today, if you are not at IIT.

Have a good one and may none of you ever have a headache!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meeting Abida Parveen

The Hindu November Fest launch happened this Evening at the Taj Coromandel. The launch concert had Ranjani and Gayatri performing. Mom and I walked in a little late, but weirdly in time. For the concert and perhaps most of Mr N Ram's address.
Somewhere halfway into the concert I saw this person walk in. Someone I had seen on the jacket of CDs and cassettes. A voice I loved.
Abida Parveen. She walked in with her daughter. Simply.
She thoroughly enjoyed the concert but one of the best times in my life happened post the concert. She was called up on stage to felicitate Ranjani and Gayatri and all I could see was that she held their hands and bowed low.
Thereafter she took the mic. We were informed earlier that her concert was sold out and we had to be early if were to get good seats. When she came behind the mic she said she would speak in Urdu. And music began with her words. And she said "If Maula willed shaayad kal kuchch achcha ho jaye (perhaps tomorrow something good can happen)". I had never seen her speak before. Or seen her on TV. Only seen pictures.
Here I should also say that there have been several people I have met who are said to be humble, those who are said to be warm and friendly. But I have personally felt that only with a few elevated souls that I have had the good fortune to meet and spend time with.
When Abida ji spoke it was so easy to feel her surrender to the Almighty God. From her words. From her countenance. From her bearing. Her total surrender to God and that she is His instrument was simply conveyed. So much so that I began to wish for that sort of a state of being. Where all the questions can die down and the total surrender can happen.
Anyway, thereafter it was time for dinner. And that was when I walked up to meet her. But then the number of people around her increased and I thought I should step back and not intrude and probably wish for another time. A tad disappointed. Mom then quietly said, "Didn't you want to meet her? Just step forward and it will happen." In a few minutes the people around her dispersed and I finally got to speak to her. All I could say was that I have loved her music and I have been listening to her music for a very long time and when I do, its like I can feel God is around me. I introduced mom and said she is my Guru too. And at that point she held my Mom's hands for quite a while and bowed her head. Mom told her she feels as if she is transported to a different plane when she listens to Abida ji's music. Abida ji said nothing. But continued to hold our hands. And I was emotionally moved.
I have realized that I don't have to be sad or whatever for my eyes to mist over and sometimes weep at the altar. I could be perfectly happy and joyous everything can be picture perfect. But when I am at a temple and at the altar, I have at most times been overcome by emotion. And at other times I have fought it. And I have seen it happen with some people too. People, who I think are closer to God than any of us are. I believe Abida ji is one of them. And I wish, that someday soon, I am blessed with the peace that she radiates. The communication that she has with the creator. And I am looking forward to her concert tomorrow and you bet I am going to be an hour early.
Today, I wish for you, that you can feel what I have felt today. That you meet such people. And at some point in time feel that elusive oneness with the Creator and the Universe. May you live in love. Thathaastu and God bless

Monday, November 09, 2009

Latest Release - Uyirodu Uyiril from Kavalar Kudiyiruppu

A song for Mr James Vasanthan. Have been wishing for a long time to work under him. When the time did come I walked up to his studio to see it is one of the most beautiful ones that I have seen and worked in. His studio overlooks the sea. Standing in the voice booth I could see the waves hitting the beach. It was beautiful.

This movie is a Bilingual and incidentally, when it was time to record, this became the first Kannada song that I recorded in Bangalore. Not sure what the title is in Kannada yet. (There is no beach in Bangalore. I know. Most of the world that cares about beaches and Bangalore knows. It was recorded in a different studio. Different from James sir's own studio in Chennai. Thought it was a simple thing to say but a lot of issues to the extent that it seems like I am saying "there is a beach in Bangalore". So let me spell it out again, I recorded the song, the Kannada version, not facing the waves but walls.Walls that are acoustically treated. In a location that I don't remember now, in Bangalore)

James sir has perhaps been seeing me from the very beginning. He has seen my transition from a girl who hardly conversed with anyone to being a host of reality show on Tamil TV. Then, I hosted Paadum Office which is his brain child. And that was working under him for the first time. The next time, I went there as a judge for the finals.

The first ever time I sang a song for him was in a Christian Devotional Album, at least 6 years ago, I forget the name of the album but the song is called Sindhanei Sei. It was so much like a Ghazal that I went berserk. I remember a lot of people telling me much later that they loved that song. It remains one of my favorite songs.

James sir is a task master. A very kind one at that. He also taught me some basics of Pro Tools in this session. There are some things in life that makes you feel grateful, gratified and blessed all at the same time. And whenever singing or a recording session is that reason, there is no other experience that comes even close. As an album, I loved it. A personal favorite is Gangai Nadhi. Whenever you can give it a listen.

Thanks James sir. For a beautiful song. A beautiful experience.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

At National Institute of Technology Karnataka tomorrow

I have been invited to moderate a panel discussion on Bringing Foreign Universities to India and their impact on Indian Education at their Annual International Technical Symposium 'Engineer-Golden Jubilee Edition. This happens tomorrow at NITK, Surathkal.

The distinguished panelists are Dr. B M Hegde-Former Vice Chancellor of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Prof n Prabhudev-VC Bangalore University, Professor K B Powar Fmr Secretary General of the Association of Indian Universities, Ms Caroline Howe - India Youth Climate Network and Kaustubh Thirumalai - Student Panelist.

I have been doing some reading on this one and asking a few people for their opinions too.

If you have suggestions/questions, please do let me know.

Latest Release - Poove Poove (Siddu +2 1st Attempt)

Aduet with Yuvan Shankar Raja, but Dharan's composition. Dharan happened to mention while we were recording that Mr Yuvan would be singing the song and I had been looking forward to hearing it during the release. The audio release was this morning at Sathyam Cinemas and it was like almost everyone in the industry was in attendance.
Dharan was fun to work with. There is an easy camaraderie and a rapport that is established when working with people your age. I worked with Dharan for the first time in this song and the MJ One More Time happened much later. (And just in case you are wondering I did not even get an opportunity to cross paths with Mr Yuvan on this song. So I wouldn't have an answer to how it was singing with Mr Yuvan)
I have personally loved his work in Laadam and Parijatham. And this is hoping that I will get to work with him again in the future. Let me know what you think of this song.

Voice of Tammannah in Kandaen Kaadhalai

Working with Director Kannan for the second time after Jeyamkondaan. I loved Jab We Met. And I loved being the voice of Tammanah. While listening to the pilot track I thought she is near perfect in her speaking and pronounciation of Tamil.
I caught a special show this evening and though I have said this before, whenever I hear a song or a scene that I have dubbed for play out on the screen, I am as excited and happy as I was the first ever time.
Please catch the movie in a theater near you when you can :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Is It

There is a reason why MJ is called the King of Pop. He is the King of the stage, of the hearts he has set up permanent residence in, of performance, of pitch perfection, of singing, of music. And this is all that reaches my level of comprehension. There is so much more that others would know and much more that no one would never know. Just like they say - Genius can never be comprehended or understood.
After watching this feature, I wondered again on how easily and inappropriately we use words like Genius, Brilliance, Talent and several such compliments like that on pretty substandard fares. Its my humble opinion which has taken root even more in me, after this evening, that the words Genius and Legend cannot be used at the drop of a hat. I once noticed a talent show contestant call a very young playback singer a Legend. I could not but help raise my eyebrows. In the singer's defense they themselves did not accept the compliment. How did we all learn to just sprinkle such powerful words all the time? Being exposed to more such circumstances sometimes makes me wish for an era long gone, as I have written in earlier posts. An era where a compliment was rare. And when it did come we knew that it was, in material terms, like having struck gold. But to those who know, these words have neither parallel nor substitute.
Someone I spoke to happened to also say that we must measure the words we speak and make sure it is fitting whenever we speak them. We say that words once spoken cannot be taken back, we say its like shattered glass or spilt milk. The more positive allegory that I have heard a lot of people of the older generation say - equating the spoken word to pearls. To point out that words have value.
Coming back, I wonder what it would have been like if life had been kinder to MJ. We would have had him around longer perhaps. On a selfish note, someday I would have had the chance to see him perform live. More than anything else, it would have been a reminder to the world that this is not just it, but this is what Genius is all about. Perhaps more. But definitely nothing less.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Something I missed - PS Thayir Saadham

The finish of every meal in such settings, as reminded by some of the commenters would be the final bits/morsels or what is literally polished off the vessel. And that is supposed to have wish fulfilling powers as we heard while growing up. Or it usually came with a blessing. When I was way younger, my granddad used to feed me sometimes. He, I thought at that time, was kinda slow. Or rather not as fast as paatti. Figured out, again in retrospect that he was just softer. But then he used to be the one saying "adikatti yaanaikutti". Paatti didn't bother about all those embellishments mostly. She would at times say dheergaayush. Once the ritual was over she would just circle the vessel/plate around my face and get up with an apppppaaadaaa. I have never heard that word that way from anyone else to this date.
And then there used to be times, when I used to come home from school angry, or would bawl. That would be paatti's cue to say pasi vandhurthu.. saadhatha kalandhundu vandhu adaicha seriya poidum. The interesting thing is the treatment used to be same for Periamma and my mom too. If she saw someone getting the least bit angry the next thing we had food fed in our mouths. Inspite of mom's resoluteness there used to be moments where the rare tear would escape her eyes. Not much would be spoken. But things would be OK after such a session, whether it was 4 in the afternoon or 11 in the morning. And this ploy worked every time. Lesson here I think is when angry/upset, eat. Eat healthy. You can work out tomorrow. I was a silent spectator to many such exchanges.
Paatti was not a great cook. Something or the other would not be right. But despite all that I craved for her weak kozhambus more than I would crave for a gourmet meal. When we used to say.. paattiiii kozhambu poarala.. idhu seriyala .. adhu seriyala.. but still eat nonetheless, paatti's standard response would be... yaen da kanna... seriyaadhaane panninaen.... And that would be our cue laugh. Then she would say enakkenna teriyum.. naan padikkaadha Jayam. Her name was Jayalakshmi. While we were in Mumbai, as a child I could speak only Marathi. Paatti could speak only Tamil. Nevertheless, God knows how we communicated. I still remember her teaching me the first letters in Tamil on a slate with flourescent green beading. Slate and Balpam.
Thatha was very English. A thorough Gentleman. I remember when he lost the power in his legs that he could only drag himself around when he wanted to move. He was 90 then. But when someone came home to visit, I remember his saying, I request your permission to excuse myself as my body does not cooperate as much as I would like it. Age has caught up. Our visitor was struck dumb for a minute and then he found his bearings. But thereafter, I found our visitor visibly straightening, posture correcting and gave a little more thought to what he was saying. during the conversation thereafter. That was another lesson learnt that day, we learn by example. No matter who/what/where the example is (from). Even at 80 Thatha was particular about walking from our residence in Besant Nagar to my aunt's in Adyar. Definitely about 4-6 kilometers if I am not mistaken. And he was extremely brisk. He was my hero. Still is. He spoke immaculate English, was a thorough Gentleman. I have heard people in my family say he had a temper too. But I don't remember any incident personally. The problem is when you grow up with a man like this and then you look around, most of the men do not measure up. Neither intellectually nor in bearing. A Kate and Leopold setting would work perfectly for me. Ah well.
It would not be rare to hear grandparents say they are having one foot in the grave. Or that its not long before they go and things like that. A lot of times, I have heard ladies in my family closer to their 70-s or 80-s wishing that they leave their mortal shell a sumangali.
In this case thatha would categorically, and at times, vehemently tell paatti that there can be none of this. And that he cannot exist without "my dear wife" as he used to refer to her often. Sure they fought quite a bit too. And then, paatti would also say enakku sumangali a poga vaendaam. Avara enna maadiri yaarum paathukka mudiyaadhu. Paravailla, She would say. Thatha had his wish. He was 92. Paatti was 81.
And in the recent Thayir Saadham episode, Maami reminded me of the traditional finish of the meal. With the last bit of the thayir saadham came the blessing, Maharaajiya, amoghama manasukkaetha maadiri vaazhkkai amaiyanum.
I write a lot of such things not only with the intent of sharing, but also with a selfish intent of immortalizing these memories. And that is why there are in the WWW. I might not be blogging forever but hopefully I would have a backup of all this. And it would serve to refresh my memory. And be a parent as my mother and grandparents have been.
One of the biggest traditions of transfer of knowledge is the aural tradition. Our country has thrived on it. For most of us who are blessed to have our grandparents around, even if some of the things they say might seem boring, they will be the memories that you want to refresh when you want that familiar warmth creep in to your heart. Your first award, your first achievement at work, the most of your first anything else has a tendency to pale in comparison. Listen to them speak. Spend time with them. And most of it is applicable to parents too. Our parents still have a first hand experience of the era gone by. And they have the wisdom transferred in them in most cases. And just as time takes people away from us, never to return, the only thing we would be left with are memories. And when you are reminded of them, its like you can see them again and can hear them again. And the blessing at the end of a meal is as real as you want it to be.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


I wonder if I should start running a suggestion box for titles. I am running out of them. I can usually write passage after passage without too much difficulty. But then it all screeches to a halt when the time comes to fill up that ominous space following Title:

One of the reasons why my blog is still called What To Name It. When the time came to fill in the title block, Chinmayi Sripada is just as expected as expected can get. Musings is as common as coffee in Chennai. Any title suggestive of music would also be just as expected. And hence the very highly intellectual, erudite What To Name It. Just in case you think I am being highly kind on myself. Hark. That was sarcastic.

At times, I wonder on the people I know. On the transient nature of fleeting characters that play a certain role and leave. But then it doesn't leave me asking for permanency. Permanency with people is more than a rarity these days. But then when it does happen, its almost as if a near extinct creature has appeared in its entire glory in front of a wildlife photographer. And for a short while whoever in the world cares, rejoices that there is a possibility of seeing this being other than in illustrated books. Rejoices in the hope.

What makes some people special? What makes you remember some? A gesture? A Helping hand? An emotion that they made you experience? The wisdom they shared? The dreams that they make you see? The paths they reveal to you? As long as I am concerned it is sometimes one or a combination of these.

When I think of these people who I can count with the digits of my right extremity (coming to think of it, my left one too) it is not necessary that I smile when I think of them as greeting card writers have immortalized. It is not necessary that I know that they will be around for as long as time exists for us. It is not necessary that I can call them for a comforting word. To me it is the memory that they created that stored in my LTM directly. The specialness. The warmth it kindles when the memory plays out. The weird belonging I feel with the universe when I was there, and whenever I remember the incident.

For you - Even if you are blessed with people you can always count on, your pillars of support, the people you can call if in dire straits, I wish today, that you come across these people who make you feel detached and attached at the same time. Before you pooh-pooh this detached attachment as mumbo jumbo that you could/may/will come across in philosophical/new age spiritual literature, its a very real feeling. Its not unsettling. But its quite something. And it weaves into the tapestry of life yet another glorious skein.

Thayir Saadham

We visited family friends this evening and maami makes sure that we never leave their house without eating. Her way of making me eat is something I have never come across anywhere else except with my own grandmom. Maami reminds me of her in several ways. This evening, she decided she won't let me go without thair saadham and more molagai. And then she brought the thair saadam in the right consistency, settled down next to me on the table and told me simply "Kaiyila vaangikko". A lump rose in my throat. I remembered the time when my mom, my grandad and I would sit around paatti. Thair saadham would first be placed on the palm, a small kuzhi made, in which a bit of kozhambu would be poured and we would eat it. Those were the most beauteous of times. Simple pleasures are the most expensive. But then it was played out today again. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. And there was this warmth I felt which I hadn't in quite a while. My mom too has similar stories to recollect. She mentions of a kalka chatti in which the vathakozhambu would be made and the entire battalion of children and adults in the house would sit around one elder who was serving, talk, laugh, eat. And that was life. They lived.
Maama, is a very interesting man. He quotes whole verses from Bhartrhari, Kautilya, Upanishads and the Gita and says his memory is not as good as it used to be. I dont know what to say to a man who is rattling off passages at times, explains the meaning and then says his memory is dimming. He also said how some of the songs in the movies were a direct translation from these ancient texts. Made a mental note to start reading Bhartrhari for the beauty in his writing.
If you have the good fortune of being around your grandparents, treasure every moment. Get them to speak and listen to them. For they have a reservoir of wisdom that you and I cannot equal. True, there is no real measure of knowledge and neither can there be any comparison of the older and newer methods of knowledge or imparting it. But there seems to be a certain magic in the age gone by. And I wish my grandparents were around.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Lodging an FIR over the phone. Not sure whether this is really going to be a blessing or a human curse on the Legal system. Perhaps time will tell. I guess there are a lot more people now who will lodge an FIR on a whim especially with the amount of stress people are going through. Rational thinking is not as commonplace as it used to be. A disgruntled person for example, like they have shown in the movie Eeram, can, if this proposal of FIR over a phone call is accepted, lodge a false complaint on a perfectly normal person. And Mr I-Don't-Know-What-Hit-Me will have to run to and fro the Police station and later the courts. Someone told me, in India, the process is the punishment.
That said, if you haven't watched Eeram, you should. Especially if you are living in an apartment, it is for you. It completely replicates what happens in societies today and how low a 'normal' family can stoop to get the house they want.
Coming back, I am sure over a million traffic complaints will be filed over phone if the proposal is okayed. And God knows how many Judges will have to battle with that in the courts. The Judges, I hear are extremely overworked and overloaded all the time. This is recent knowledge to me but if this has been the case for several years now, I am amazed at how normal the Judges I have met are. With the number of professionals across industries complaining of stress and this and that and what not, perhaps we ll have to hand out awards to these Govt. officers who only seem to be hearing, seeing and are exposed to the worse sections of the society through their day, every day, 365 days a year.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mehendi At Pondy Bazaar Road Side

A must try. Am highly impressed with their artistry and the amount of time that the Mehendi stain has stayed on my skin. I have tried it several times before with other professionals and even after a week now the color has neither faded nor scratched off.
Have been wanting to check it out for several days now and always wondered when I would make this time to get some Mehendi art done from these guys who say they are from UP.
And it happened during Diwali. And going by the number of steady stream of people, they already seem to have hit it off.
These artists are speedy and are very good. Take my word.

The Lost Symbol

Been reading this book and am a few pages into it. Must say I remind myself that I really love Dan Brown's work.
The recent Landmark sale helped to stock our library and we were able to invest in a diverse collection. Nandan Nilekani's Imagining India, It's Not How Good You Are Its How Good You Want To Be, A Spiritual Handbook on India, Audacity Of Hope, The Hindus - An Alternative History and a few more.a
Landmark is definitely one of my favorite haunts. God Bless Authors.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blue Elephant and the Translation Industry - my two cents

A full fledged interview not talking about my singing at all.

It came in the online versions of The Hindu and the Hindu Businessline yesterday. Figured out I tweeted but didn't blog about it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Looks like

I am switching to tweeting like several others. At first it was tough for me to express myself with a 140 character limit. But I am learning the art of being succinct as opposed to the verbosity here.
Easier to tweet about a movie or anything else, sometimes.
And I write 3 posts talking of issues and some say my blog is a complaint box or I am being a pessimist. I have become negative. Shucks. I really wonder what makes people pass such sweeping statements of someone based on a simple post talking of an issue. And then there are people who say people who can raise their voices about issues and have the advantage of being heard easily because they are recognized in a crowd simply don't. Proves the age old saying true. You just cant satisfy everyone. But then that has not been my goal. And I am reminding myself again of the proverb that trying to please everyone is a sure way to failure. There are several goals and milestones that I need to achieve. I intend to continue evolving, learning; for the day I stagnate, I shall cease to exist.
There were several dozens of people who used to advise my mom from time to time on how exactly to bring me up. And now I sometimes chuckle when I think back and thank God that mom had the wisdom she had for not listening to all the well meaning people. She had been the truly remarkable, magical lady to have made plans that are way ahead of time. She has fulfilled half of them. The other half are just about to be fulfilled. Or rather the plans and goals to achieve keep growing. The so called well meaning society would not have let me be a musician. Why? They used to ask. Study. Become an engineer. Or get a BCom degree. Join a company. Assured income. Settle.
Settling - I realize now, is something I have never wanted to do. In retrospect of course. Why settle when one can strive harder and get that something worth spending time and energy for and that which is truly gratifying? Why settle at all? Mom reminds me all the more now.. once you are close to reaching the finish line, its time to set the finish like farther away. There is a lot more that she says to me, but too early to talk about all that.
What will be, will be. And I am what I am.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tenants and house hunting

Helping some of my interpreters find an apartment to rent out might turn out to be the most harrowing of the experiences I have had.
I wonder if there are laws and rights of tenants in this sometimes weird country called India. One - its tough to find bachelor accommodation. And then basic fittings like fans and lights are not provided for, for instance. Tweeting about it, I found others who said the house owners replaced a motor and made the tenants, who were girls in an IT company, pay. I remember once upon a time, when we were new in Chennai, the house owners replaced an electric meter and made us pay because the "refrigerator is from Bombay and that has spoilt the meter and has to be replaced". I am sure the electric consumption of that house is still counted on we funded.
While I was with Aahaa FM there were so many callers who complained that the apartment association is harassing them just because they are tenants. The stories they related, off air, made my blood boil. In most cases their respective house owners who were in other cities or countries also perhaps were unaware and asked them to handle issues on their and that they would support them. Some also said that the owners were great people. Some tenants even said the owners let these apartments for rent because of the almost goonda like acts of the apartment associations and other owners and they didn't want to subject themselves to such weirdos.
Now that there are a lot of individuals who live together in an apartment because they have relocated for work, house owners have found this to be the perfect chance to hike up the rates on rent to abnormal levels as I see them now for apartments that are only 250-500 sq feet in size. Some of the houses I helped my interpreters see don't even have a window and looks straight out of Slumdog Millionaire!! How did they build houses like that and how do they have the bloody gall to be so damn rude over and above that??
At the end of the day no tenant is living for free. If someone is paying for any service then it better be darn good. Or at least average. Now who lets Apartment associations decide that they can traumatize and harass people just because they are 'tenants'? Even a certain lawyer said, they are tenants and that's how things will be. So what if they are tenants? Don't they pay the maintenance? Don't they pay for their association get-togethers during festivals? And worst, some apartments have a lot of legal issues. So everyone is scared of talking. Perhaps these builders should be counseled to follow the law and not mess up the lives of those who have made them the rich guys they are now.
I am not sure how the situation in other cities is like. But Chennai definitely seems to be hyper greedy.
As for me, I'll take this opportunity to thank most of the landlords that we have come across personally and in whose houses we had lived in. They are the ones defined as good human beings, or perhaps they are angels compared to the devils of house owners around.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Guided tour around AVM studios

I have worked in AVM Studios for several years now, off and on of course. All of Super Singer was shot there. And most of the TV interviews as well. A couple of movies too were dubbed there. Sillunu Oru Kadhal and Modhi Vilayaadu. A lot of wonderful memories are associated with AVM. My first ever dubbing session and the first ever shot as a TV presenter were at the legendary studios.

I happened to request an appointment to meet Sri AVM Saravanan this morning in order to thank him following the State Award for Sahana. As I stepped into his offices it was almost like a stepping in to some other era. Photographs of every production of the AVM Studios, with the first in 1935, the vintage Ford motorcar, the wonderful microphones which have recorded the golden voices, the first ever camera, Sri AV Meyyappa Chettiar's passport, the dealer agreement with Ford for the car he procured, his spectacles, notes in English in his perfect handwriting, TC, Driving license, the first ever contract signed with T R Mahalingam... It was humbling to be in that building.

We met Saravanan sir as soon as we stepped in to the building and I was informed that he had sent a letter congratulating me as soon as the announcement was made but it had gone to an older address. The few minutes of spending time at his office would definitely be one of the most memorable ones in my life. The perfection, discipline and the sheer class that he exuded - I thought it is a bygone era. I saw all that in Sri AVM Saravanan. I was given another copy of the letter that was originally dispatched on the 29th of September and somehow I had this indescribably beautiful feeling when I read through the letter. I have heard reputed artistes of Tamil Cinema say that at one point in time it used to be tough to step into the premises of AVM studios. The words rang again in my ears today. Today was special. It was just not another trip into AVM for me.

As a 12 year old I had decided, with no two ways about it and giving no choice to the Universe, that I shall be a playback singer. And I shall work at becoming a singer of merit. My dream, the prayer was heard and in just about 3-4 years I stepped foot inside Rahman sir's studio. I know how much I have pined to be singing professionally. And prayed for the opportunities that have come my way thereafter.

After looking through history at the office, I happened to see the first day cover of the stamps on A V Meyyappa Chettiar and asked the office if I could have one stamp. And they gave me one for my collection.

Meeting Sri AVM Saravanan was also like another reminder to myself to follow old time values, discipline and protocol. I realized how important and valuable it is. And I thanked God for being blessed to do that I have always wanted to do.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sahana bestows on me the Tamilnadu State award.

After Kannathil Muthamittaal, I get the cherished Tamilnadu State Award for the second time for Sahana.
I am usually verbose but I am pretty much at a loss of words to say anything. All that I know is that I am indebted to Rahman sir for lifetimes together for choosing me for this song. I could not have had a better Vijayadasami. I am praying for the blessings of all my Gurus and God at this moment and henceforth.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

New Release - Jaggubhai

Apple Laptop - a duet with Shankar Mahadevan. I think this is the first duet with Shankar ji that has released though I remember recording several others.
Rafee sir is the voice of Signore Signore (Kannathil Muthamittaal) and several other songs for Rahman sir. But I remember him best for Signore. Signore is one of my favorites and maybe it is not common knowledge that Sri Abdul Hameed penned the lyrics for this baila.
Fast forward several years and I landed up at Rafee sir's office/residence here in Chennai to record. It was a beautiful session. I got to know Mrs Rani Rafee, a wonderful human being and even after the session there were a lot of things we spoke about. On the Sufi mystics, philosophy and the divinity that we see all around us sometimes but fail to realize. We also realized we read similar literature.
A lot of times a recording session becomes special for reasons in addition to the composition that I am singing - the experience and the chance to be behind the mic one more time is something I crave for all the time. Its the only thing that drives me and my true calling. (The things that I do otherwise are gifts that have bestowed on me and I am usually not the one to let an opportunity pass by unless of course something about it was not the right for me to do at that point in time).
And I have noticed that a certain divinity in the composer makes a recording great. Someone told me the other day, that you will find a glow in the face of someone who makes it a point to pray regularly. Those who choose the communion with the higher self, the truth, the creator have a certain aura about them which makes interactions with them wonderful. The recording session with Rafi ji was one such. And he happened to tell me today that I have worked hard on this one and asked me to keep it up. Felt good to hear that from the composer I have worked with.
They screened Apple Laptop and Sunita Sarathy's song at the audio release today and Shriya has completely showcased her dancing skills in both song. The Hon'ble Chief Minister of Tamilnadu Kalaignar Karunanidhi released the audio CD and Rahman sir received it.
This was also one of those rare audio release functions where the singers were invited. K S Ravikumar sir said he has always invited the singers when I kinda lamented that no one bothers about the singers at audio release functions while I met him during the briefing sessions for hosting the Aadhavan audio release.
Looking forward to buying the CD once it arrives at the stores.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Playback Singers against royalty rule in India

Courtesy Musicindiaonline
Thanks to @PraveenonTweet for bringing it to my notice. 

High high high time that this has happened. And hope the musicians will unite for the collective rights - be it of the composer/singer/musicians/lyricists.

P.S: Apparently leaving the link with at the title did not work. Please click on Musicindiaonline to read up
I have got wonderful comments to the posts below. Thank you very much and any more are welcome.
A lot of people, just like the tweets I received asked for FM tie ups. FM stations are primarily not interested in non film albums and neither would they play it if they get the rights even for free. Perhaps an exception would be that McJasz. Not sure if he spells his name that way but one track from his album got sufficient airtime only for 2 FM stations for about a couple of weeks. And then that is about it. 
There were comments which are directly in opposition to one another as well. Some said rock some said No rock thank you. 
And somehow a lot of people assumed that I am going to 'choose apt singers' for this one. I am not a composer and can never be. And I am not sure whether I am going to go choosing :)
And yes in retrospection the publishing industry question was quite a no-brainer. People don't like E Versions of books. Just doesn't happen I guess :) But thank you very much once again for all the comments and the time you have invested in letting me know of your opinion which I consider highly valuable. 
If and when I come out with an album it will definitely be worth your while. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009


If I had to make an album what would you expect of me?
What kind of music? What would you advise that I should do? 
Let me know. 
Also I won't be publishing the comments in this particular post but the comments shall all be acknowledged if I come out with one. 

A couple of questions

I am asked often:
Why don't non-film albums work in South India or more specifically in Chennai. I think the market in Kerala is pretty good for non-film music.  Maybe also in cosmopolitan Andhra Pradesh. No idea about Bangalore. But let me also put down the disclaimer that I am only pondering aloud here and I do not have studies or articles to base these thoughts on. These are stuff that came up during random discussions with others in the industry. If I am wrong here I'd love to be corrected. 
- Is it because Radio Stations won't popularize the tracks?
- Is it because we are so used to only stars acting out the songs and no one else?
- Is it the branding?

And with Audio Piracy
I tweeted a while back. "Is there a way to market publish (I'd rather call it publish now) music in a manner that it cannot be pirated?" I got the response that the pirates are always better than marketers. And I am getting highly interesting responses too.  I think the print industry is not so highly affected by piracy like the Movie/Music industry. How could they achieve that? Is it because it is easy to track down the printers who publish such pirated copies? Or is it that those who have it in them to read - as the habit of reading is not so commonplace - would also consider the experience of shopping for their books integral? Correct me here too if I am wrong. 

Maybe it is human tendency that someone would rather download something for free than pay for it. Guess piracy is the  the technology's way of telling us that we are mostly thieves at heart. 
Or maybe the pricing is just way too high. 

I have always wanted to figure this out. 

And I really wish the IPRS can get their act together. Soon. 
P.S.: A lot of people telling me that we can never get the better of pirates. Then I think I am going to start hiring pirates. Something like they show in the movies on the police hiring crooks with a view of reforming them and helping the police force. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Doctors of the future???

I happened to go to Kilpauk Medical college as a guest this evening. Didn't know it was a light music competition that was in progress already but I figured that out when I went there. I first found it quite strange that there was a separate enclosure for us, on a higher level and found it weird facing the back of the audience. Roshini, Naresh Iyer and Mathangi joined a little later.
But even as the different bands were performing some students kept throwing rockets and paper balls at the performers. I found that highly irksome. It was almost like dejavu, when I was judging an event at Stanley Medical college 4-5 years back. I remember that the audience kept throwing branches broken of the campus trees, stones rolled in paper and paper rockets at the singers during a solo competition. I remember requesting the audience to maintain a little decorum. Even my mother kept requesting the 'audience' That did not happen. I said if this kept going I would have to walk out of the premises. And that I did. I apologized to the contestants, I knew most of them from previous meetings and said they were better off doing anything else than take part in that music competition at SMC. I saw no reason why those contestants should subject themselves to this kind of a treatment. 
The SMC students said it is not their fault and the students from other colleges are to be blamed. But then some did say that students of the medical college were also part of the troublemakers. I wonder how they got in by 'merit' or whatever it was, into these colleges. 
That was the last time I set foot there. 
I was wary of going to KMC but did because our family doctor recommended it. The students who were part of the audience kept throwing paper rockets and other throwables at the girls in particular while the authorities kept watching. And as I walked onto the stage disgust had somehow overtaken me. Someone threw a rocket on me and I saw the boys who were doing it. KMC has to say that the students are from another college. I frankly do not care. Who is to know where they are from?  They all take the name of college in the neighbouring area.  Though the students apologized, they said they had brought in police protection for this very purpose. I don't know what purpose it served. 
But 5 years after the SMC debacle KMC is pretty much the same. And if these guys who are doctors in the making were to allow and even bear with this bull crap happening on campus I wonder what all they will allow to happen to a patient. Or would it change then? Would responsibility happen? If KMC or any other college cannot handle the behavior of students no matter where they come from, then they might as well not organize such events and allow public insult of girls who come to participate. At least as long as people do not know of this, there will at least be an opinion that KMC and SMC are 'safe' places to be in. Why organize any such congregation and ruin a good reputation even if it is misplaced. Ignorance, in this case, would definitely be bliss. Ramachandra Medical College and even the newer Chettinad Medical College seem to run a tight ship. 
And yes it does make a lot of sense to me now that educational institutions are strict. When someone becomes a part of a mob he/she could do anything and everything. 
I only have one prayer now. That nobody should ever come across the kind of unruly men (especially if they are students of medicine) that I came across in KMC and SMC. 
Definitely felt more sorry for the nice student coordinators I met. Sorry for the kind of people they are exposed to. And the kind of environment they are in. God help my country.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Music Engravers / Finale 2009

OK people. Here is something.
If you are a music engraver/ or know someone who is into engraving, and works on Finale 2009, let me know


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

And another year

has gone by. It has been quite fast and mostly eventful.
Perhaps if some events had not happened I would have been happier. But like they sometimes used to end those Tinkle or Panchatantra tales, it perhaps made me sadder but wiser.
I mostly do not look forward to a birthday. I do not associate anything great or happy. No great memories either. Yeah while in school it used to be the excitement of new clothes and the whole class to class chocolate distribution thingie we got done. And sometimes about shared birthdays. Three other girls in my class shared a birthday.

I read in someone's Facebook status yesterday "When life brings you to your knees, you are in a perfect position to pray" Going by the things the path ahead is not going to be easy. But all I wish for now that I do not come across any more bad people. I have seriously, honestly had enough of them. I wish that I do not meet people who will almost break my spirit. I wish that I do not come across instances that do the same either. Because when it comes to that I know it takes a while to rise. And I do not want to waste that time. I am asking for a lot of blessing. Most people perhaps think that I lead a charmed life. To the world my dreams are fulfilled and I am touted as 'succesful'. But I know the path that mom has brought me through. Bramble bush and thorns. Jagged stones and bruises. All that I have known is hold her hand just I had learned. And she has never let go of me. In her sole strength and determination I have found the will to keep going. I continue to hold her hand. For there is so much to be done and so less time.

I wish and pray that my mother be healthy and fine. I wish and pray that I will have her with me for several years to come.

The year so far has been one of great and careful planning that continues. And the year ahead will be that of execution.

And wish your wishes, your blessings and a humble, heartfelt request that you pray for me, that I stick to the path of righteousness, truth, wisdom and learning. I intend to use the popularity that I have earned for a greater good.

And I pray as I have never prayed before. And shall continue to.

For the fulfillment of a greater dream, a greater purpose. For true service that shall start soon.

God help me.

P.S.: I have found friends in my people who have liked and followed my work. I prefer to call them that than fans because I have met most of them and know them personally. They started a community in Orkut and as far as I can see, the discussions show that they are going to be organizing a meal at one of the less famous, truly needy orphanage perhaps this weekend. And I will be with them when the plan has become concrete.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Languages and Learning

After working with interpreters and translators of varied linguistic capacities and capabilities over the few years, one of the major things that Indian linguists lack is their command over English.
I really do not understand the point of learning a foreign language if you are no good in the language that you are going to translate into.
Over the last few weeks I have been pretty appalled at some of interpreter talent that is in India. Thankfully to set the balance right, I have come across some good ones too.
If you are planning to learn a foreign language, do so by all means, master it and read everything from storybooks to rhymes and comics and the newspaper in that language. And side by side, head to British council and enroll in their English courses or simply read as much as you can and use the dictionary. If you are already a professional in a field, learn the terms that you come across every day.
I think its no use being an interpreter/translator if you have not even come close to mastering the source (the language you translate from) and the target language (the language you translate into).
And as a disclaimer this is only for those who are interested in taking up languages and translation as a profession. It is definitely lucrative, but only for those who are good enough.Yes currently there are several professionals who are not, but slowly the supply is rising and then it shall truly be a survival of the fittest.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Crank calls and judgments

For once we decided to not sit quietly on these crank calls that I keep getting from random numbers and informed the authorities. A warning does work wonders. Over several months and weeks some weirdos call. Mom usually tells them that we will tell the authorities and that would be enough. This time we really did it. And the apologies followed.

Probably pretty soon I will ask for help from the Cyber Crime cell as well for some comments that seem to come from some IPs and this has been coming for more than a year or perhaps its two. I wonder what is it that makes someone use the kind of language that I get to read sometimes. Every post gets a comment like that.

Now please don't tell me that its a side effect of being a popular person. Like I have said before, someone's freedom to swing their hand stops where the other person's face starts. And if some people have forgotten their manners then perhaps its time to remind them.

After reading so many reviews, discussions and protests on Sach Ka Samna, a show, which goes about asking people to come forward to literally bring the skeletons out of their cupboard for the entire world to see, by answering 'just' 21 questions truthfully, curiosity got the better of me and I actually sat down to catch the show.

I have read on so many T Shirts, perhaps you have read it too. "Its not a crime until you are caught". And under this veil of anonymity, of their wondering who will know , with a devil may care attitude sometimes and who will notice, it is quite a revelation on the kind of things people say and do. Mostly a popular person would be scared to do most of what a common man does for fear of blackmail to extortion to anything else.

And I also wonder what it is that makes someone who is presumably leading a happy life to answer questions which can put his/her life in a mess. There were reports in the paper on a couple who played out this game in their homes and the man committed suicide as he could not handle the truth. Why would people willingly walk into quicksand. Or maybe it is not quicksand. I would never know and perhaps no one will.

So many different kinds of people around us and I have also read this in some magazines. To let sleeping dogs lie. At least in a lot of cases.

On a tangent, after that post on the 23rd August, I got a few comments which said that a celebrity should be a role model to the society. It got me wondering there as well. Why the demand that a celebrity should be a role model? Perhaps it is not in their scheme of things to be and do. As I have said several times before I blog on what comes to my mind, I do not go back and edit. And I happened to ponder on this as well. Maybe all that a person who became someone that we could recognize from the sea of faces that we come across, wants to do is just go further in his career, do better work and lead a life in his own terms. Why should he answer (not that he might be) to what our demands on him are? Perhaps Sach Ka Samna is what Reality TV is all about. They say art imitates life. And if this is anything to go by, movies are not corrupting anyone. More often than not they are plainly stating facts on celluloid.

And maybe the common man is not so interested in a popular person as he is in his own life. People are busy leading their own lives that no one really cares what happens even next door. I once knew a person who was such an optimist who kept saying that people in the world are too busy to be doing anything bad to us. I know from heresy and experience that there some beings that take it upon themselves and waste a lot of time in figuring out how they can ruin someone else's life. But then, he was an optimist. I would rather be a realist who can wear optimistic glasses sometimes.

My blogs, thereafter reading the comments that a reader (you, perhaps) takes effort and time in keying and publishing it here, watching and hearing so many things around me makes me want to take a decision time and again. That I will not judge a person. No matter what.

I happened to watch these videos on Facebook. Perhaps you might have seen them already but happened to love the commercials and the thought process behind that.

With this let me wish for you that you may not be judged, especially if you find yourself in a pickle and may you enjoy the relief that it brings about. The relief that comes about when you know you get total acceptance when you want it.
God bless.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

'To sing one more time'

In Memory of Michael Jackson. This song is composed by Dharan and the lyrics are penned by Benny Dayal. (Once during a recording session, I figured Benny composes and writes his own lyrics, in English though and am glad that his work is there for all to hear and see. I am not sure however, if he his work has already been published, if so I apologize.)

I loved working on this song and it was a very fun session. Haricharan and Naresh were present at the time I landed up at the studio and we also had this small session together behind the mic. Realized, once again that recording together with other artistes is actually a lot of fun. Hope to be able to work with Dharan a lot more in the future. And hopefully Benny will come out with a lot more of his compositions. I think a lot of the professional singers I know seem to be a composer in the making. I too learnt very early how to compose - an Email, a text message and a blog. And that's all the composing I can manage.

Here is the video for you, courtesy India Glitz.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Celebrity - A Public Property?

I have perhaps had it with the opinion of some writers/journalists (just because they have the power to publish with a popular newspaper or a magazine) and a lot of other people, that a celebrity or a movie star or anyone popular is 'public property'.
Would anyone care to define this whole "celebrity is now public property" nonsense?
I remember having an argument with an auto driver several years ago. He was one of those talkative ones and went bak-bak over the racket of the auto. And he happened to mention that a certain actress has to do this and that because she is public property. I remember lambasting him, as politely as I could and perhaps, just perhaps he changed his thinking. And then I asked him where he got the idea from. He said he read it in a magazine.
Today, more than anything else, I see how easy it is for a popular magazine or a newspaper to influence public opinion. To the extent that it makes the reader believe that it was his idea in the first place and not that of the writer's.
I read an article yesterday with quotes from popular people who have said that they don't mind their actions being followed and those who said they do not want the press in their kitchen or their bedroom. A celebrity is no different than who you are. They grow up pretty much the same way you do, study the same stuff, have similar friends and family also perhaps, some circumstances and a lot of other things.
Of course there are several ways a popular person is different from one that is not - One does not have to worry whether a simple Quote will be misconstrued/misunderstood or published in the same misconstrued manner. Because publishing a wrong notion happens in bold letters. Corrections happen in a corner of a newspaper that you will easily miss. I have always noticed that you'll have to search for corrections with magnifying glasses.
While on the topic, this whole thing about celebs repeating clothes and especially writing about it is another thing I detest. Money does not grow on tress. If a celeb has a tree in his compound, it does not grow on his tree either. Every TV interview or show that a popular person shows up on, especially in Chennai, you can bet your hat they have spent their own money on the clothes. No channel pays a celeb for the clothes and let me also clarify a celeb is not paid to give a TV/Radio interview. I got this idea from the guy who irons the clothes outside our building. The entire working class is of the notion that every time a celeb comes on TV or radio they are paid tons of money.
A celeb who repeats a set of clothes is called a Fashion criminal. Who bestowed the title of a fashion know-it-all or expert on the one who is writing this on a paper or a magazine? What the hell is fashion anyway? Some guy or perhaps there are two. They sit in Paris or whichever country it is and decide how the entire world should dress itself in the coming season.
With movies, a viewer watches it over a couple of hours, easily judges in a second on how the movie should have been made, how this should have been done, how that should have been done, amongst a ton of other suggestions. Some say acting is easy and anyone could do it. But if you had to get drenched in the rain for days together for a song shoot, your health not withstanding, or wear summer clothing in Arctic weather and still look as if you are having the time of your life then I wonder how many of the viewers will survive. Stunt scenes are another thing altogether. People do get injured and it includes the stars as well. All those superbly lighted sets that you see in TV shows and movies - the collective heat generated by all those lights can put a desert to shame. Yes a lot of studios have A/C facility but everyone sweats in spite of that. I wonder how the actors in that era managed to act, especially in all those devotional movies in the 60s and 70s with all that make up, jewellery and clothing.
I do not think I have to tell you that even the work - the movies or serials or music or anything else that a professional in the entertainment industry is involved in, which is produced keeping the public in mind, is for public viewing/listening - is not public property. They are protected by various intellectual property and copyright laws. If the copyright laws were really implemented in the country, you actually do not have the right to perform your favourite song. Just have a look at the fine print behind every CD that you might buy. If you are one of those who only downloads music /movies via torrents, well Pirate, I have nothing to say to you.
If this highly controversial Sach ka Saamna and all the 'truth' in it is anything to go by, people are people. Human. And flawed. Maybe a celeb does not have that many skeletons in the cupboard as some participants in Sach ka Saamna.
Like someone said : "I am myself and all my circumstances". I remember Pt Bhimsen Joshi saying in an interview that people only see where he is now with all awe and amazement. But if they had to even glimpse the path that he had to take to be where he is, they would have died a hundred deaths.
No one but the wearer of the shoe will know how and where it pinches. And he will have to break the shoe, sores and all.
Some schools of thought say that God does not judge you. So who are we trying to be? Imagining that we are the sole reason that the world spins on its axis? That we are the upholder of everything around us? If you zoom out even the street you live in, forget everyone else, even you cannot spot yourself or even the most popular person you know. That is how important we all are.
It pains me when some writers refer to women in degrading terms, denounce some acts of several people as undoable and against 'Indian Culture', so on and so forth. What was right sometime back is wrong now and so it continues. Not long ago, it was wrong for the girl to study. Now denying education is neanderthal.
These are times when I had thank my stars that the professionals I have come across in the print and visual media have been absolutely wonderful people.
Maybe I have digressed quite a bit here and there but to sum it all up:
A celebrity is not public property. No matter what someone might write. And has every right to his privacy and that of his family.
My two (or perhaps there are more) paise.