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On fast track to success

He is not the one to be swayed by all the noise that is made out of his success. But Kaithapram Vishwanathan has emerged as the latest hit maker on the Malayalam film scene. In a chat with K. A. Martin.

It is not for him to bask in media attention. Recognition has come his way, in good time, as a music composer capable of producing hits. His award winning effort for `Kannaki' has come in for a lot of praise. And, the `Sare, Sare Saambare...' number for `Thilakkam' is the current rage with the youngsters in Kerala.

In all these, Kaithapram Vishwanathan is not the one to be swayed by the noise that is being made. Music runs his family and it is not accidental that he came into the field. He has been an avid follower of music trends in Kerala and has shown a keen ear for these trends.

According to him, while the younger generation prefers faster music, there is always a dedicated group of music lovers who prefer a good melody to all the rhythm. He attributes his recent hits to the fact that he has taken care to cater to both these requirements.

Even though `Sare, Sare...' begins fast, it progresses into a melody that is simple and catchy. The process of understanding the music industry in Kerala has taken him some time. At the end of it he has come out with flying colours.

As he says, the world of films is not new to him. Over the last several years, he has been working with his elder brother and assisted him in scoring background music for films like `Desadanam', `Karunyam', `Santham' and `Kaliyattam'. It was in `Kannaki', another Jayaraj venture, that he got his first break for the whole array of his talents. Besides the State award, the effort also won him the Lux-Asianet honour.

The most important influence on his life has been his elder brother Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri. He has been both a friend and a mentor to him guiding him thorough the course of his life. It was under his influence that he gave up his job as a music teacher at Raja's High School, Neeleswaram. In fact, when he completed his diploma in music at the Swathithirunal College of Music, Thiruvananthapuram, he may have never fancied going into the world of films as a composer. It was while he was a teacher of music that he opened Sruthilaya Sangeetha Vidyalayam in Payannur. The institute continues to flourish under his watchful eyes with about 300 students now. This has also led him to open Sruthilaya School of Music in Kochi. With over 100 students enrolled, the institute has made its mark on the music-training scene here.

When it comes to training his students, he is as thorough going as he is when composing a song for a film. For this reason, the students who attend Sruthilaya are put through a demanding course. Besides two days of theoretical classes in a week, students are required to practice at the institute two days a week. While Mr. Viswanathan takes care of the vocal training, there are other experts giving instructions in Keyboard and Violin.

The initial response has been good, says Mr. Viswanathan. The institute was opened by Dakshinamurthy and Yesudas in January. He is proud to say that the chorus for the famous `Saare, Saare' number was sung by students at Sruthilaya.

As both a trainer and a professional music composer, he feels that the best results can be achieved by understanding the special talents of each singer. One has to take into account the range and the quality of voice of a singer while composing a piece, he says.

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