For playback singer Srinivas, music is a way of life
HE ASPIRED to be a singer but went on to become a chemical engineer.
But his passion for music, a lot of persistence and a little bit of luck saw him realise his dream. Starting off with jingles and tracks, he got a break in film music with the hit Sorgam enbathu namakku in Nammavar. But it was A. R. Rahman's lively Oo...la la la in Sapnay that made him popular. Srinivas had always been keen to sing for Rahman after hearing his haunting score in Roja. During a recent visit to Coimbatore, he spoke to Metroplus about trends in film music, his foray into composing, A.R. Rahman and more. "Music is my life. I have always dreamt of making it big in music. But it is difficult to earn a living out of it," says Srinivas, who has to his credit more than 550 songs in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and Kannada.
Soft numbers have been his forte, with most of his hits steeped in melody. Think Apple pennae nee yaro (Rojakoottam), Kaiyil midhakkum kanava nee in Ratchagan and Mellisaiye (Mr. Romeo). "I love melodies. But, now, films are becoming fast paced... music too. Even in Malayalam, it is a Lajjavediye that has become a hit. People like watching violence and action and the importance given to songs have come down in movies. Directors like Maniratnam and Rajiv Menon give importance to capturing the mood of songs. But even in good movies like Aiydha Ezhuthu and Azhagiya Theeye, songs have been sidelined."
Talking about trends in music, he says everything is changing... the sounds and music. From being Carnatic-based, film songs grew to adapt to Ilayaraaja's Western symphony and Rahman's world music. At present, there is no trend in music."
Srinivas is trained in Carnatic music and some of the greatest influences on his life are Kishore Kumar, A. R. Rahman, the Burman brothers, Ilayaraaja, Pakistani ghazal singer Mehdi Hassan, P. B. Srinivas, A. M. Raja and M. S. Viswanathan.
And he can't stop talking about his mentor Rahman. "It was A. R. who started the trend of identifying fresh talent." Srinivas also won appreciation for A.R.'s song Minsaara kanna in Padaiyappa.
What he has learnt from A.R. is his humility. "He always maintains a low profile and remains humble despite so much success. I have sung 30-odd songs for him. He's totally absorbed in music, and there's nothing else that affects him. And, he gets the best out of a singer."
Srinivas voice will next be heard in Shankar's forthcoming movie with A.R., Dancer and in a Hindi film with music composed by Jatin-Lalit. Though Srinivas has got into composing out of interest, singing remains his love. "I have completed the music for the Malayalam movie, Seethakalyanam. It has Carnatic-based melodies. Hariharan and Sujatha have sung a fusion (rock and folk) number with a ghazal feel, there is techno fusion, an alaap... I don't want to limit creativity, so there is a lot of mix and match." His hit songs in Malayalam include Ethrayo janmamayi ninne naan thedunnu in Summer In Bethlehem and in flicks like Dost and Swapnakoodu. He has also left his mark in Bollywood with hits like Kaisi hai yeh rut in Dil Chahta Hai and Tara rum pum pum in Doli Sajake Rakhna. Bheegi bheegi raat main in the recent Leslie Lewis album is another chart-topper.
Any new projects in Hindi? "Though singing in Hindi gives you mileage, I don't go out of the way to get offers. When it comes my way, I take it. I'm happy with Tamil."
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