CHAT Carnatic vocalist Kunnakkudi M. Balamuralikrishna on choices well made. Venkatesan Srikanth
Kunnakkudi M. Balamuralikrishna has been hearing his father’s Carnatic music classes since he was a kid. Being born into a musical family certainly has been a blessing for this young Carnatic vocalist, who in recent years has been on the rise. On one of his recent visits to the Capital for a concert, Balamuralikrishna was full of gratitude for the support of his parents in his career so far.
It was when his father Meenakshi Sundaram spotted the child’s inclination for music, that he began teaching him and after a couple of years sent him to Neyveli Santhanagopalan, V. Sundaresan and the renowned guru P.S. Narayanaswamy for further training.
Balamuralikrishna has travelled all over the country and also to the U.S., Australia, Singapore, Dubai and Sri Lanka for performances and has enthralled music lovers. He is now pursuing his Masters in Music after completing his post graduation in Commerce. What triggered him to take to music full-time? “My parents' dedication and tireless efforts towards grooming me as a musician on the one hand, and my natural aptitude for music, on the other hand, dictated my decision to pursue music as a career,” says the 28-year-old.
Earlier known on the circuit as “Master” M. Balamuralikrishna, the youngster has received awards and accolades in plenty, such as the Asthana Vidwan title from the Kanchi Mutt, Yuvakala Bharathi, Yuvakala Jyothi, Young Star of the year 2008, etc., and these too must have had a role in encouraging the young Balamuralikrishna to go further in his musical journey.
He has also learnt the art of playing the mridangam. After initial training from Nagai Bashyam, he took his advanced training from Guru Karaikudi Mani. This rare feature helps him appreciate the intricacies of laya (rhythm).
Did all the various training sessions seem hectic to this young lad, when compared to the lifestyle of his friends? Says Balamuralikrishna, “Yes, it was indeed hectic during my school days. Once back from school, I would start practising at home or have my vocal class with PSN sir or my mridangam class with Guru Karaikudi Mani sir. The sessions were intriguing, fun, uplifting, fulfilling and much more. I have never regretted taking to music and the consequent rigorous sessions.”
Balamuralikrishna’s music is innovative, but is within the strict parameters of tradition. His deep involvement in kriti rendering and natural flair for laya have made his music enjoyable. Knowledge of the intricacies of laya certainly helps a vocalist while performing. But there is always a danger of overdoing the mathematics of laya.
Balamuralikrishna explains, “The most important thing in singing these rhythmic patterns is to blend the mathematics and the raga in such a way that it sounds just like singing a normal kalpana swara (pattern).”
Despite travelling frequently and being busy in his profession, Balamuralikrishna says he manages to keep up a social life, because, “I had a few close friends who knew about my profession and I am still friends with them, no matter how infrequently we speak to each other.”
A grateful Balamuralikrishna avers, “I owe everything that I am today to my parents and my gurus.” As for his experience performing in Delhi, he says, “I found the Delhi audience to be very receptive and knowledgeable. It is always a pleasure to perform before such audiences as I can connect and transport my feelings to them.”