Carnatic vocalist and playback singer Mahathi is deeply rooted in music, finds Maithri Srikant
“Music is in my blood and I have been identifying Carnatic ragas since I began talking!” says popular Carnatic vocalist and playback singer Mahathi, who began enthralling audiences with her dulcet voice at age three. Today, she continues to stun audiences with her propensity for exploring octaves in Carnatic ragas and is also an equally well-known playback singer. The singer was in the city recently for a concert organised by the Shaiva Prakasha Sabha.
Mahathi hails from Palakkad and was born in a family “deeply rooted in music.” Her father is Carnatic vocalist Thiruvaiyar P. Sekhar, and her mother is flautist Vasanthi Sekar. Initially, the singer trained in music under her parents and later under veteran vocalists Mangad Natesan and Madurai T. N. Seshagopalan. Mahathi is the only one in her family who concentrates on both Carnatic music and film music. “Singing Carnatic causes a lot of stress and strain on your voice and you've got to keep on practising. Meanwhile, for playback singing, you should ideally rest your voice as much as possible. Maintaining voice quality is quite difficult when you attempt both, especially when you have to do a recording soon after a classical concert. Voice quality and voice culture play a vital role in film songs. Success as a playback singer is often gauged by the number of hits that one has sung,” says the singer, who always seems to handle both genres of music with equal élan.
It was to “widen her horizons” in the field of music that Mahathi shifted base to Chennai. “Ilayaraja Sir gave me my first break back in 2001; a meeting with him turned out to be my first recording – the song Enna Maranthalum… (Kadhal Jaathi). The movie was never released but it gave me the confidence to get going. Soon recordings with other stalwarts such as A.R. Rahman, Harris Jayaraj, and Vidyasagar followed,” says Mahathi, who has sung popular numbers in movies such as Bheema, Ayan, Saamy, Parijatham, Dreams, Engeyum Kadhal, to name a few. In 2008, Mahathi won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for the song Nera Varattuma… (Nenjathai Killathe).
“I have rendered a few Telugu and Kannada numbers too. As I speak Malayalam fluently, I hope to sing in Mollywood too,” says Mahathi. The singer is currently one of the panellists for Vijay TV's popular music reality show Star Singer.
Her passion for music also paved way for the Mahathi Academy for Dance and Music in Chennai, established in 2003. The school now has over 500 students on its rolls. Furthermore, she has released a few notable albums such as one on thillanas titled Navarathna, one on Bharathiyar songs, a few devotional albums, and so on.
And what does she do when she is not indulging in her love for music? “Driving is one of my favourite things to do. I'm equally obsessed with my iPad and playing games on it. These days, though, I tend to spend time with my family – bonding with my eight-month-old son Samarth, and my husband, Sreekumar, a Malayali maxillofacial surgeon. I also love cooking; my signature items are pulao and paneer, and avial and olan,'' quips the 26-year-old, with a smile.
We also heard that she's into shopping? And seeing that she looks resplendent in a black and red Kancheevaram sari, matching jewellery and all, with expertly applied make-up adding to the glow on her face, she seems quite the fashionista too…? (Laughs) “I shop throughout the year, my favourite items being saris and cosmetics. I love jewellery too,” says the singer as she signs off.
Mudhal Mazhai… Bheema
Ayyayyo Ayyayyo Pudichirikku… Saamy
Nenge Nenge… Ayan
Thee Illai… Engeyum Kadhal
Unnai Unnai… Vellore Maavattam
Keywords: singer Mahathi