How it happened
I learnt Carnatic and Hindustani music from a young age. In college I used to participate in various music competitions and win prizes. At a prize distribution ceremony, singer Srinivas appreciated my voice and style of singing. He told me to do a demo cassette and approach music directors. This made me think about playback singing as a career. I made a demo CD and got in touch with leading music directors such as Harris Jayaraj and D. Iman. Harris immediately called me and made me sing in harmony with others for the film Anniyan. Iman made me sing my first solo number ‘Varungala Vittukkarane’ in the film Aanai featuring Arjun.
How it felt
I felt very happy. But the critic in me was not happy at all. Whenever I listened to my own song, I would criticise it. I used to feel I could have done a better job. But my biggest critic is my mother Lalitha. She is a veena player and is good at drawing too. At the most, she will say I’m improving day by day but I’m yet to hear her say she is satisfied.
How life changed
Life has not changed much for me. I’m happy to be in this profession but my passion for singing overrides everything else. I think Yuvan Shankar Raja is one of the best music directors today. I have sung three songs for him. They are ‘Oru Nalaikul Ethanai Kanavu’ from the film Yaaradi Ne Mohini. The other two films are Parattai Engira Azhagu Sundaram and Azhagai Irukkirai Bayamai Irukkirathu. The best compliment for me is he has recommended my name to his father Ilaiyaraja who has given me a song in Uliyin Osai and a song in the forthcoming Dhanam. I was happy when he gave me the chance to sing for an album on Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi. I have also appeared in an ad with other singers for Chennai Silks. I have sung nearly 50 songs in the four South Indian languages — Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.
S. R. ASHOK KUMAR