Haricharan Seshadri, whose playback career is on a high, shares his experience with Athira M.
“Sorry… It was my ‘Thalai Deepavali’ (the first Deepavali after marriage)… We had a lot of functions…,” Haricharan Seshadri sounded genuinely apologetic on the phone. Well, it’s been almost a week since the singer had promised an interview. The prolific, soulful singer made up for the delay with a heart-to-heart talk on his playback career in South Indian languages, his special connection with Kerala, his devotion to Carnatic music and more. Right now, his song ‘Mazhaye…’ from Pattom Pole is reigning over the music charts. Excerpts:
M. Jayachandran is a musician I have followed right from my childhood. I had interacted with him as a school boy. My first song for him was ‘Oru kinginikaattu…’ from Mallu Singh. The peppy, folk number with a Punjabi flavour, was quite a big challenge for me. Also, I had to sing it with a great artiste like Navraaj Hans. Jayachandran sir [composer M.Jayachandran] was very happy with my rendition. Later he gave me songs in Trivandrum Lodge (‘Theyyaram…’), 916 (‘Chenthamara…’ and ‘Kiliye…’), Kammath and Kammath (‘Coimbatore…’), Kalimannu (‘Pranamya…) and recently Pattom Pole (‘Mazhaye….’ and ‘Hey vennila…’). The song ‘Mazhaye…’ has been well-received, especially the video of the recording. And I’m now looking forward to the songs in London Bridge for Rahul Raj and Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal for Prashant Pillai.
The biggest hit is definitely ‘Vaathilil…’ from Ustad Hotel. I had worked with Gopi [Gopi Sunder, composer of the song] for many jingles and that’s how I got this song. .
Entry in Mollywood
My first Malayalam song was for the movie The Thriller. Its composer Dharan is my friend and the song, a duet with Mamta Mohandas, just happened. But the song which really got me noticed was ‘Mozhikalum…’ from Padmasri Bharat Dr. Saroj Kumar composed by Deepak Dev. I met him during the composing of the Tamil version of Urumi. To be frank, I had always kept myself away from Malayalam songs because the language is very tough. I am not comfortable pronouncing certain words. But Deepak sir gave me complete freedom and he even shot the video of the recording of ‘Mozhikalum…’ which was quite cool. The best part is that it was picturised on Vineeth Sreenivasan, a close friend.
The Kerala connect
My parents are from Palakkad – mom from Puthucode and dad from Vadakkencherry. But I was born and brought up in Chennai. Though I rarely come to Kerala and can’t speak Malayalam fluently, Malayalam films and Malayalam music were always there at home. My parents love listening to songs of Yesudas sir, especially the songs from the devotional album, Mayilppeeli. Since my Malayalam is not very good, whenever I meet my cousins in Kerala, I make it a point to speak in Malayalam. It is much better now (laughs).
Being a Carnatic musician
I’m proud that I continue to be a Carnatic musician even as I am a playback singer. However, now the number of concerts have come down owing to my film commitments. I belong to a family of musicians and music lovers. But I’m the first one to get into playback singing. My grandfather, P.S. Ganapathy, used to run a music sabha where the greats in Carnatic music used to perform and my father, G. Seshadri, was also into music. I have learnt classical music from K. V. Narayanaswamy, T.M.Prabhavathi and P. S. Narayanaswamy. According to me, classical music gives maturity to one’s voice. I need a lot of practice which I get through the concerts. Now I try to bring in a classical element in my film singing, especially in stage shows.
On his dream run
It has been! I made my debut when I was 17 with three songs in Kaadhal of which one song was nominated for the national award. Before I knew it, I was getting more and more songs. In between, I joined college for engineering studies and that was a period when I recorded the maximum songs. It was a wild ride, I’d say.
His style quotient
It’s not been very long since I got an image make-over! I strongly believe that it’s not only with your singing that you connect with the audience. Your looks, persona, and body language also come into play. I feel it is absolutely cool to be flaunting your style as a singer, especially because I’m a singer who loves stage shows more than studio recordings. Well… the thin beard didn’t go down well with many, especially when I give Carnatic concerts… (laughs)
People often ask me whether I’m comfortable singing with this singer or that singer on the same stage. I’ve no issues. In fact, I share a wonderful relationship with almost all of them. Be it Karthik, Naresh [Iyer], Benny [Dayal] or Shwetha [Mohan]. We often discuss our work, stage shows, the crowd, composers…
I, along with my wife, Pavithra, have started an event management company, Showstoppers. We plan to launch a special show, which would be an audio-visual package.