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Hit man

From chorus singer to lead singer, life has come a full circle for Karthik. But, he feels he still has a long way to go

On a successful note: Karthik

IT'S NOT often that you find a young artiste singing playback for Rajnikanth. It's not easy either to get launched by A. R. Rahman, followed by Ilaiyaraja, and have most of your songs become chart toppers. That's Karthik for you.

Maya, Maya and Sakthi Kodu (the songs he sung for Rajni) in Baba made waves in the Tamil film industry. In the process, it catapulted this up-and-coming singer to fame.

Now, switch on any television channel, radio station or play a CD, and you're bound to hear Karthik. His voice has become synonymous with many popular numbers, from Manjakaattu maina in Manathai Thirudivittai to Aval Ulaga Azhagiye in Lesa Lesa to Maro Maro and Girl Friend in Boys.

But he is not resting on his laurels. This playback singer wants to concentrate on quality work. Gentle and amiable, Karthik talks about his journey to the top in an interview to


Accidental entry

For this commerce student, entry into singing was accidental. "I started off by singing `harmony' (chorus) for A. R. Rahman in December 1999 and my first break came with Nendhukittaen nendhukittaen in Star," he says.

Mention A. R. Rahman, his mentor, and his excitement is palpable. Karthik has sung more than 15 songs for A. R. [including Hindi] out of his 300 songs in Tamil [for music directors like Bharadwaj, Deva and Harris Jayaraj]. Ask him how it was to work with Rahman and Ilaiyaraja and he says: "It was a great experience. Both are from different schools and they observe so many things in music. There is so much of individuality in their work." One of his best numbers for Ilaiyaraja was the hit, Oliyile therivathu devathaiya for Azhagi.

Recently, he entered the Malayalam music industry with movies such as Akalae, Sathyam and Rain Rain Come Again. "I have sung for music directors like M. Jaychandran and Jassie Gift. It is a good learning experience, challenging and refreshing. I have completed some 15-20 songs in Malayalam."

Success formula

As for the secret behind every song becoming popular, Karthik chuckles, "Probably, I've been lucky to get all the hit songs (touch wood!)." His favourite numbers are Girl friend venume, Akalae (Akalae) and Theradi Veedhiyil (Run).

Is he working on any unique singing style? "I try to go with a calm and clear mind for recording and just get into the mood and enjoy the song. A style evolves naturally when you are yourself and when you do complete justice to your work," he explains.

And, he is not keen on cutting a Tamil pop album. "The Tamil pop scene is not that flourishing."

But Karthik wants to experiment with gaana songs.

"It's so much Chennai," says the Chennai boy.Though Karthik loves classical music (he's trained in Carnatic music and is learning Hindusthani classical and the piano), he enjoys all music. His role model in life? "I take good things from different people. I admire S. P. Balasubramaniam and Hariharan and observe a lot of their positive traits," he says.

He wants to take life as it comes. "Three years back, I never dreamt of making it big in music. I was lucky to meet the right kind of people in the industry. I want to continue with the flow and concentrate on learning music, singing for films and, of course, pursue my studies."

His voice will next be heard in Tamil in the much-awaited Sadurangam and 7 G Rainbow Colony.

Will he be getting into composing in the future?

"No way. I respect composing a lot and composers do 80 per cent of the work. We just chip in with our voice," Karthik says.

What about acting?

"Hey! Acting is not a joke. Singing came easily. I just can't act."


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