Singer Sithara is basking in the success of her song in Celluloid

“I am so lucky to be part of this movie and singing for a character that Malayalis have not seen.” Singer Sithara was gushing about her association with Kamal’s Celluloid, the biopic on J.C. Daniel, better known as the father of Malayalam Cinema, which has opened to rave reviews at the box office.

Her song, ‘Enundodee ambili chantham…’, which evokes nostalgia with its music and old-world dialect, is picturised on the character P.K. Rosie, the heroine of Daniel’s movie, Vigathakumaran, who had to face the ire of the orthodoxy for acting in a movie. Finally, she was forced to leave the city.

The song has given Sithara a lot to cheer about. “Jayachandran sir [composer M. Jayachandran] wanted me to sound raw to give a 1930s feel to the song. That is why I sound so different,” the singer says about her song. “He has been a guru for me, though we haven’t worked together earlier.”

A regular at youth fetes, Sithara started learning music from the age of five. Although her parents, Krishnakumar and Saly, always encouraged her, they never forced her to take up singing as a profession. She was Kalathilakam of Calicut University Youth Festival for two consecutive years, 2006 and 2007, while a student of English literature at Farooq College, Kozhikode. She also won prizes in Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, classical music and light music.

Sithara is currently pursuing her MA in Hindustani music and Rabindra Sangeet in Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata. She is an accomplished dancer as well, having learnt Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi from Kalamandalam Vinodini.

What gave a new direction to her life was taking part in three reality shows in 2004 and winning all the three. Gandharvasangeetham (Kairali), Sapthaswarangal (Asianet) and Voice 2004 (Jeevan TV). She made her playback debut with the song ‘Pammi pammi’ in Vinayan’s Athishayan (2007). Though she went on to sing in a few films, 2011-12 was her year when her voice made waves in movies such as Elsamma Enna Aankutty (‘Kannaram pothi pothi…’), Marykkundoru Kunjaadu (‘Pancharchirikondu…’ and ‘Kunjaade…’), Traffic (‘Pakalin…’) and Ee Adutha Kalathu (‘Ponthoovalaayi…’). Recently she sang in Chapters, Poppins and Maad Daad.

A disciple of Ramanattukara Sathish and Pala C.K. Ramachandran in Carnatic music, Sithara is learning Hindustani music from Ustad Faiyaz Khan.

“The liking for Hindustani and ghazals has got much to do with where I belong to – Kozhikode. People said my voice suited ghazals and I was also interested in branching into genres other than playback singing,” she says.

Having given a lot of live shows with most of the stalwarts in music, Sithara says: “Live shows give a special feel. But then playback has got its own space and more popularity when compared to any other genre in music.”

The singer is now working on a Malayalam ghazal album of her own and also has plans to compile ethnic songs of Kerala. “Since they are many songs of the soil, I plan to choose songs based on women. I had go to many places in Kerala to learn those songs,” she says. She has also sung in four Tamil films, including Muppozhudhum Un Karpanaigal for G.V.Prakash for whom she has sung in Telugu as well, and in Kannada (for Ouseppachan). Sithara has got some interesting projects in Malayalam lined up, which include Balyakalasakhi for the veteran composer K.Raghavan.

Before signing off, Sithara adds: “I am so lucky to have Sajish as my life partner. He is one who encourages me the most. We became friends during the youth festival and that eventually led to marriage. An artiste himself, he has written two songs for my ghazal album…,” she says.

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