U.S.-based Sri has one abiding passion… the Tamil language, and his life’s mission is to promote and preserve it.SAVITHA GAUTAM
His enthusiasm is infectious. Sri aka Srikanth Srinivasa is a bundle of boundless energy and it’s this energy that has helped him build a meaningful life for himself in the U.S. Yes, he belongs to the ubiquitous IT fraternity, and his English has a faint American twang. But he speaks impeccable Tamil and that definitely sets him apart. As also the work he has been doing to promote the Tamil language in his country of domicile.
Whether it is running a radio station or acting in Tamil plays or making audio books, Sri gives his all to every project which he sets out to achieve. He says, “I have to give credit to many people who have fostered my passion for the Tamil language, be it my parents or Kalakendra Govindarajan sir, who pushed me in the right direction and gave me opportunities to perform during Humour Club meetings in around Chennai.”
Besides being a humorist, Sri dabbles in various things. For one, he manages and produces a community college radio from the Stanford University campus - KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM from San Francisco Bay Area. On his three-hour show which is broadcast on Wednesday mornings at 6 a.m., every visiting Indian, be it P.B. Srinivos or Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Indira Parthasarathy or Sudha Ragunathan, has been featured. “Every interview was special. Not only does the programme showcase India’s storehouse of talent but also keeps alive a rich heritage and traditions on foreign shores. Personally, it has been a fantastic learning experience as every interaction has helped me understand life better,” says Sri, who has produced over 400 shows so far.
To satiate his other passion – Tamil literature—Sri decided to work on audio books. “I am a huge Kalki fan. I wanted to preserve his works for posterity. Also, I had in mind all those Kalki aficionados who are unable to read him anymore for various reasons (failing eyesight, age-related problems) or those who can’t read Tamil. That’s how I decided to convert the classics into audio books. I met Kalki’s family, who were at once encouraging and gave me the go-ahead for the project.” Sri began with the iconic “Ponniyin Selvan.” “It took me two years to create 75 hours of the audio book.” The Kalki Audio Books are in a downloadable MP3 format and have been released on iTunes and Amazon already, as well as for all Android devices in India. Sri has also read out “Parthiban Kanavu” (11 hours) and “Sivagamiyin Sabatham” (33 hours). He is at present working on ‘Tamil thatha’ Dr. U. Ve Sa’s “En Sarithiram.” (http://www.tamilaudiobooks. com/).
However, if there is one achievement that makes Sri really proud, it is itsdiff, a California-registered non-profit organisation which is his brain-child. He says, “The objective is clear… serve the Indian community by putting together cultural events and seminars on traditions, and showcasing talents in the fields of music, dance, theatre, humor and education.”
Sri lists topics such as Parenting, Domestic Violence/Drug Abuse awareness, Health and Fitness and anti-bullying which have been discussed at length with experts and have received positive feedback. (To access these seminars and all of Sri’s interviews, check out www.itsdiff.com).
So how does Sri juggle so many activities and maintain a full-time, high pressure job? “I indulge in my passions mostly on weekends, except for my radio show which is on Wednesdays. I have to express my deep gratitude to my family for standing by me and allowing me to pursue my interests,” Sri signs off even as he spouts Bharatiar with flourish.