Singer of several hits Harish Raghavendra talks to Chitra Swaminathan about entering a new creative phase as a lyricist

Harish Raghavendra can’t wait for the Kalyana Samayal Saadham. Not because he’s a foodie. He’s thrilled about the delectable twist it has given to his life; the celebratory mode it has put him into. When this Arun Vaidyanathan (who earlier directed Acchamundu Acchamundu) film hits the screens, it will simultaneously launch this singer-of-several-hits as a lyricist.

As Harish begins to talk about this new line of expression, his unhurried, gentle voice is evocative of the many melodic songs he has rendered through the past decade in films in all southern languages. “An artiste’s dossier should be punctuated with challenges. They give you the energy, the creative spur to sustain in these days of intense competition,” he says.

“Thanks to social media, you are never chasing your dreams alone,” he laughs. “I used to write verses in Tamil with English translations on Facebook which caught Arun’s attention. He suggested I pen songs for films and I jokingly asked him, ‘if you are making one how about me writing for it’.”

And Harish soon found himself meeting Arrora, the music director of Kalyana Samayal Saadham, who asked him to write a few lines for a tune. What next? The pallavi was okayed and an excited Harish returned home to write the second segment of the song.

“Imagine if I had not been friends with Arun (who is producing the film along with Ananth Govindan) on Facebook,” says Harish in jest, his dimpled smile accentuating his boyish looks.

“But I really can’t thank them, including director RS Prasanna, enough for following my poetic updates.” The song about modern trends is peppered with English words and also has a rap portion. Harish has also penned a melodic song, a female solo, in the film. “From foot-tapping to mellow, I had to be careful with my choice of expression to suit the meter and mood of the compositions.”

Harish’s lyrical journey continues with his second project for composer-singer Achu Rajamani for an untitled film. Having sung more than 2000 songs did he find it easy to come up with appropriate words to convey different emotions? “As a singer, you try to bring out the inherent feelings in the lyrics through variations in pitch, timbre and intonation. And inspiring lyrics can get the best out of your voice. But I do not think being a singer can make one a good writer too. A command of language is what is needed. I have always had a flair for Tamil. In fact, music director D. Imman, who loves my articulation, nicknamed me ‘Tamil vadhyar’.”

Artistes always long to work in a fuss-free ambience and Harish was delighted with the space and freedom the KSS team gave him. “An easy exchange of ideas nurtures your imagination and makes your confidence soar,” says Harish, who even acted in the film Vikadan. “I did get a few acting offers but preferred to focus on singing.”

Though Harish is enjoying this new creative phase, he will continue with his first love, singing. He has finished recording for Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal under Harris Jayaraj’s baton. Incidentally, ‘Azhagiye Theeye’ with which he first hit the high notes was a Harris Jayaraj composition from Minnale. Among his other forthcoming films are Om Shanti Om (music director Vijay Ebenezer) and director Vikraman’s Ninaithathu Yaro that has Paul Raj handling music.

He made his debut in the industry under none other than maestro Ilaiyaraaja and the song ‘Nirpadhuve Nadapathuve’ (film Bharathi) brought him immense recognition and also a State award. “It’s hard to forget how nervous I was facing the great composer at my very first recording.” After Bharathi, Harish took a break to finish his education. Despite a Masters in Mass Communication and completing his Software Engineering, he returned to the studios. He worked with well-known composers such as Yuvan Shankar Raja, Imman, Vidyasagar, Vijay Anthony and Harris Jayaraj rendering numbers that were hard to be dislodged from the charts.

Since film music has no grammar, he realised the best training would be to listen to all kinds of music. “You need to sharpen your ears to subtle variations in technique and tone. With technology dictating tunes now, it is all the more important to develop an individual style to get maximum clicks and hits,” says the singer who has travelled to more than 18 countries as part of music shows. “Oh, it’s a great way to connect with people and keep your passion for music alive.”

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