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Scoring success

DO YOU find yourself humming the title score of popular serials such as "Nambikkai," "Payanam", "Indira," "Alaigal" "Aarthi," "Sruthi", "Annamalai" or "Vazhndu Kaatugiren." Pause to think who has composed them and you would not find it difficult to come up with the right answer. Well, he is the musical wizard "Dhina" who seems to enjoy a near monopoly of title tunes for Tamil television serials.

Meeting him at his studio in Saligramam was indeed a pleasant experience. Asked who was responsible for his meteoric rise to fame, Dhina replied: "With the blessings of God and the support of family and friends can success elude you?"

As I was born into a family of musicians it is not surprising that I eat, sleep and drink music. Even as a student at the Savithri Ammal Oriental School I remember being a self-styled drummer. I used to tap out rhythms on the desk in an improvised accompaniment while my classmates sang.

Music is my magnificent obsession. Is it not a blessing that my livelihood is sustained by my greatest passion?

I spent six years learning to play the veena from V. Srinivas Iyengar. With this training in classical music, I went on to work for a brief stint with G.K. Venkatesh and then was engaged as "fourth conductor" and assistant director by Ilaya Raja. The experience I gained doing 500 films - Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Konkani and Malayalam — has stood me in good stead through my musical career.

He recalls with an impish smile: "It was Radhika of Radaan TV, who gave me a wonderful break - the opportunity to score the music for "Chithi" (stepmother). This "stepmother" was the step to overnight fame. He acknowledges the encouragement and advice given to him by his wife, Hemamalini, who was instrumental in influencing his decision to score the music for "Chithi." It was a wise move for, both the song "Kannin Mani" and the central character (Chithi) became popular.

Dhina's score was considered fiery and most suitable for the character of Chithi and the tenor of the serial.

He is keen that music composed for television productions should surpass that which is composed for the silver screen.

This prompted him to get Nityashree of "Jeans" fame to render the "Chithi" tune in "Keeravani."

Dhina is all praise for his wife's support and has named his studio after her. Incidentally, she too plays the veena.

Riding the first wave of success with Chithi, Dhina was soon commissioned to score the music for 35 serials. He has also composed jingles for various consumer products.

The scores for "Marupiravi" (Radaan's), Kutty Padmini's "Manthiravasal", "Police Diary" and AVM's "Dhik, Dhik, Dhik", earned him the image of a music director skilled in scoring music for plots centring round suspense, murder, thrill and intrigue.

With his hands full and hardly any time to spare, he composes only title music, each composition taking anything from 15 minutes to three hours or even half-a-day.

His favourite scores, he says, are "Snehidi, Snehidi, anbulla Snehidi", besides "Kannin Mani" from Chithi. With 40 projects on hand, Dhina is a happy man. He acknowledges that R.B. Choudary of Supergood Films helped him make his debut by giving him an opportunity to score the music for "Love Today" (Telugu), to be released shortly.

His friend and small screen hero, Vikram has got him to score the music for "King."

He feels that satisfaction spells stagnation and therefore strives to better his performance every time. True to his name, which means "sun", Dhina radiates warmth and friendliness.

And the trophies for "Best Music Director" he has received from the Mylapore Academy for his scores in "Chithi" and "Vazhkai" are a proud testimony to his talent.


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