Singer S. Saindhavi talks to Divya Kumar on her versatile musical pursuits and her creative rapport with fiancé, composer G.V. Prakash

∝Singer S. Saindhavi is definitely what you’d call a multi-tasker. At any given point she has so many balls in the air that the question, “What projects are you currently working on?” results in not so much an answer but a bullet-list response: themed kutcheris on Lord Krishna, Rama, Shiva, and on Ambal, themed katha-kutcheris (with B. Suchithra), an album on Bharathiyar’s love songs (out this month), Sacred Chants albums with Stephen Devassy (one of several volumes), live shows with Anil Srinivasan…

That, of course, isn’t even counting her current hot streak of film hits with fiancé, former school mate and film music composer G.V. Prakash (see box).

Or her M.A. in Psychology, and the M.A. in Music she’s currently pursuing. Or her plans to work with dyslexic and autistic children (inspired by her doctor-father), her love for cooking, and her penchant for David Baldacci and Sophie Kinsella novels.

If it seems like we covered a lot of ground in this interview, it’s because we did, with the lively 24-year-old talking nineteen to the dozen.

At one point, I ask her about an earlier interview in which she said she was a shy person who found it hard to open up to the media.

“Oh no, that’s only when a camera is in front of my face,” she laughs.

“Then you have to pull words out of my mouth. Otherwise I’m not shy at all. In fact, I talk all the time and my mom tells me to rest my voice!”

Multi-tasking has always been very much a part of her nature. In school (Chettinad Vidyashram), she participated in every extra-curricular contest that there was, whether it was mono-acting, dumb charades or even handwriting. “People would tease me, saying you haven’t left anything out,” she recalls with a smile. “I just love competing. And I don’t mind losing.”

This healthy love for competition is what lead to her entering various music reality shows in her teens, including Vijay TV’s Are You Ready, which she won, Ragamalika, and Sapthaswarangal, in which she finally progressed to the latter rounds in her fifth attempt. “I went for four auditions, and each time I was rejected before we reached the TV rounds,” she says candidly. “It just made me work harder, because I wanted to find out where I went wrong. I was never disheartened.”

The shows got her recognition, leading to offers for devotional albums (she’s done over 200 now), and meetings with other singers and musicians. That was how she eventually met music director Deva, who offered her three songs. The film, unfortunately, is still to be released. “That got me down a bit, but then I heard that this happened to great singers such as S.P.B. and Chitra, and I felt better,” says Saidhavi, laughing. Her breakout hit was ‘Andankakka’ from Anniyan (2005), and the rest, as they say, is history.

She’s always loved film music, singing in a band in school, with G.V. Prakash on the keyboards. “To be able to sing songs that others will be performing on stage like I once did… that’s a dream come true,” she says.

But classical music has a special place in her heart. It wasn’t until she was 10 that she started formal training in Carnatic music, coming as she did from a non-musical background. “No one in my family sings, and my parents were too busy to notice that I could,” she jokes. “Other people told them to send me for classes.”

Today, her mother is her biggest fan and sternest critic, and her family rallies behind her 100 per cent. “I’ve never gone alone to a single show or recording,” she says. “My mom, dad, brother or even my 85-year-old grandmother will come with me. I’ll always ask in the morning, ‘Who’s doing duty today?’”

She continues to learn Carnatic music, and for the last five years, has performed regularly during the December season. “The last two years has been especially nice,” she says. “Until then, people weren’t sure how good I was, but now, I get a decent crowd. People especially appreciated my themed show last year, ‘Kannan En Kadhalan’, which had a script with the meanings of the compositions.” songs.”

“The main difference is that with playback, I have to sing what I’m given whereas in Carnatic music I can decide what I want to sing on a given day,” she adds.

She has no complaints, of course, about the film hits she’s sung recently, especially for fiancé G.V. Prakash. Ask about their working relationship, and she laughs, “G.V. is completely professional at work, a perfectionist, and he gets very angry. I’m actually scared to sing for him. always worrying that he’s going to scold! Once we’re out of the studio, I’m happy not talk about work.”

And are the wedding nadaswarams going to be playing for the pair soon?

“Most probably this year,” she says, adding ruefully, “If for no other reason than to stop people from asking us about it!”

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Musical Bond

Recent hits in collaboration with G.V. Prakash Kumar

"Aaruyire" - Madrasapattinam (2010)

"VizhigalilOruVaanavil" -DeivaThirumagal (2011)

“PiraiThedum” – MayakamEnna (2011)

“ManasellamMazhaiye” – Saguni (2012)

“UyirinUyire” – Thaandavam (2012)