More than a decade into playback singing, Srinivas is still the voice of melody. He talked about his tryst with composing, and his shows

It's been a rather unusual day for Srinivas.

For over two hours, we made him hold a CD as a Sudarshan Chakra, almost pushed him into the swimming pool (by making him go closer to the water to get the frame right), got him to fool around with a microphone that costs over a lakh-and-a-half, rearranged the furniture at his beautiful home on St. Mary's Road, and put his keyboard in grave danger by moving the stand around.

Instead of worrying about all of that, Srini was simply fascinated with our photographer's experiments with natural light. “How do you know all these things?” he asked with child-like awe.

Spotting a Woody Allen DVD collection at his studio, we asked him about his favourite Woody films. “There are so many. Each one is different. I am not a film buff really. I just got into it. I had only read his quotes. He's very funny. All his films are so brilliantly written. ‘Annie Hall', ‘Match Point'... Have you seen this one called ‘Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Didn't Know Who To Ask'?”

Since I hadn't, he played it for me, and we watched a couple of scenes. After a good half-hour of Woody Allen, we settled in for the interview.

Sixteen years in the industry, and Srini has had a lot to keep him busy.

He was in Colombo last weekend. This evening, he has a Srinivas Unplugged concert in the city at the Music Academy, a fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Madras Temple City.

“I will be singing my songs and my favourites by other singers. It will be a mix of Hindi and Tamil. And it will definitely have Kishore Kumar. I've done a modern take on Mehdi Hasan; the album is going to be released by Sa Re Ga Ma soon. So, maybe a couple of songs from that. Then, Ilaiyaraaja, Bharadwaj, and whatever I've sung for Rahman.”

“There are singers and performers. I can never be a performer. I can't dance to save my life. I am not a glib-talker. I can never go up on stage and riff with the audience. I prefer to let the singing do all the talking. But sometimes, even the singing is not enough to take care of it,” he laughs.

It's also because Srini's songs need a certain kind of mood. His is the voice of melody, the relief from the noise and engineering of popular electronic film music.

Since he's been singing for years, he has reached a phase where composers have stopped experimenting with him. “There's a limitation of the voice; my voice can't be something else. People call me only when they are 100 per cent convinced that the song needs my voice. They don't want to experiment with me. But, I am always open to experiment, and even if it doesn't work, I don't have a problem. They probably feel embarrassed and awkward. But, melody is what comes naturally to me.”

Srini has branched out to do jingles over the last few years. “I used to do a lot of stuff for Rajiv Menon. Now, I do for others as well. The composing I did for films {a song for ‘Ay Nee Romba Azhaga Irukke' and Malayalam film ‘Seetha Kalyanam'} somehow never took off. Maybe my time hasn't come yet. But, I enjoy doing it all. Whatever I do, I have a ball.”

Technology, he believes, is just a tool. “A song needs soul, a tune, a melody, to really take off. Even now, I am not an arranger. I only have a tune, and I use an arranger to do my stuff. I am in no hurry, and anybody in a hurry cannot work with me. Someone from Bangalore recently came to me and asked: ‘Can you give it to me tomorrow?', without even showing me the film. Yes, I can definitely do something in a day. But 90 per cent, it will turn out to be bad. Whatever I do, I want to like it. I don't like doing too many things.”

Though there are thousands of pre-programmed loops to aid the music director today, thanks to the likes of Garage Band, Srini hopes music directors produce tunes based on Indian music.

“No doubt these rhythms recorded by some foreign musician at a state-of-the-art studio sound great, but look at what Rahman does… Indian music is never a straight line, be it classical or folk. It is heart-piercing music. How you blend Indian melody with world music is what gives the music its soul.”

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