Tamil playback singer Annupamaa’s composition was chosen to be played at the first South Asia Expo, held in China recently

When playback singer Annupamaa Krishnaswami went on a vacation to China last year, little did she know she would be asked to compose a song for China Radio International’s contest. Her anthem, titled ‘We are South Asia’, was selected to be played at the first South Asia Expo, organised by China, which was held in June this year.

“We had met the people involved in China Radio’s Tamil broadcast and interacted with them. When we returned after our two-week visit, I received an e-mail from them, asking me to participate in the contest.” Annupamaa was asked to compose a theme song, which would highlight the cultural similarities of all South Asian nations.

“There were approximately 170 entries for this contest,” says the singer of ‘Konjam Nilavu’ fame. “I was pleasantly surprised when they e-mailed me in May, saying my song was selected, and I was happy that another country had recognised my work.” ‘We are South Asia’ has elements of Chinese and Indian music. The lyrics were penned by her husband J. Murali Krishnan. “It talks of how unique we are, and even if we are separate countries, there is a single thread connecting all the South Asian countries,” she explains.

“I had barely a week to compose the song, as I was busy with my album ‘Konjam Nilavu, Konjam Neruppu’ as well. One of the songs for my album matched the theme, so I rearranged the tune a little and added the lyrics. It worked out very well; they loved it and told me that it conveyed what they had in mind.”

Annupamaa’s album has an eclectic mix of sounds, and uses instruments such as the sitar, sarangi and guitar. “I believe in the simplicity of the tune and the power of the words. In this album, I have also experimented with many genres such as hard rock, pop, disco, and kuthu (‘latino kuthu’, actually). The name signifies the two sides of life; the fire and the softness of the moon.

The singer’s visit to China has changed her perspective of the country, and she hopes to collaborate more with artists there. “I hope to work with Chinese musicians soon. During our visit, we didn’t stick just to the big cities but visited small villages as well, and it was an amazing experience,” she smiles.