Karthik grew up listening to Hindi retro, and remembers listening to the haunting Beeti Na Bitai Raina as a teen. The R.D. Burman number seared his consciousness and continues to linger in his mind.

Karthik grew up listening to Hindi retro, and remembers listening to the haunting Beeti Na Bitai Raina as a teen. The R.D. Burman number seared his consciousness and continues to linger in his mind. And, with his tribute to R.D. Burman as part of The Hindu November Fest, life comes full circle.

Ask him about the process of choosing the numbers, and Karthik says it was not an easy task. “It was so difficult. There are so many good songs to choose from. So many melodies/ballads, so many peppy numbers. He was so versatile, and experimented so much during his time. I’ve grown more in awe of him now.”

This programme, which has turned into a huge affair, complete with a 28-piece orchestra and five singers — Karthik, Mohammed Aslam, Gopal Rao, Shweta Mohan and Kalyani Nair — started off on a much smaller scale. “It was just meant to be me, and Bennet and the Band. But, it’s all fallen so beautifully into place,” says Karthik.

The team is rehearsing exhaustively. “Very necessary,” says Karthik. “But, we’re rehearsing so well that it comes across seamlessly on stage. It is a live show all right, and spontaneity is necessary, but any tribute to Burman has to be perfect. It is a huge challenge, but we’re looking forward to it.”

So, how different is it performing on stage? For instance, Karthik, who is normally a reluctant talker, takes on a different, gregarious avatar on stage, jiving to the numbers and getting the audience to join in. “I agree, I’m not myself on stage,” laughs Karthik. Seeing an audience, 10,000, 5,000 or even 500 people does something to you. And, when you connect, some energy surges through. It’s almost like I am a split personality. I transform into something else. Those who know me are surprised, but it is not a deliberate thing. It just happens. Live shows do that to you. And, live shows are a vital part of me!”

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