Playback singer Sunanda, who has turned to classical music, tells K. Pradeep how the change of track may help her in her comeback
With his first few films itself A.R. Rahman had the whole nation swinging to his tunes. The Tamil film 'Kadalan,' was a money spinner mainly on the strength of its music. A female duet 'Indirayo ival sundariyo... ' sung by Minmini and Sunanda was then on everyone's lips. This was one in a string of hits churned out by the Malayali singer Sunanda.Since her debut in 1984, for five to six years Sunanda was one of the sought after singers in Tamil films. She then suddenly disappeared from the scene. The talk was that she had migrated to the United States. The irony was that this Malayali voice was very much in Chennai waiting for a call."I had got married by this time and used to go to Kolkota, where my husband was posted, once in a while. When he was sent on a deputation to Libya I did go there for three weeks. But otherwise I was always in Chennai where my parents have settled. During this time I did have occasional recordings, for albums. Once there is a break it becomes tough to come back," says Sunanda who has now moved to Carnatic music."My 'arangetram' was at the Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple, Tripunithura, in 1978. I was studying at that time under Raja Rao and Thulasi of the R.L.V. Music Academy. Her first film song was with P. Jayachandran, who had given her a lot of encouragement. The duet, 'Kaadal mayakkam... ' from the Bharati Raja film 'Pudumai Penn' (1984), composed by Ilayaraja, was very popular at one time.
That song did well and Sunanda went on to sing in many of the films for which Ilayaraja composed. It gave Sunanda a niche in Tamil films. She also sang for Rahman and S.A. Rajkumar, who came onto the scene after Ilayaraja. "I knew Rahman as Dilip. I had sung many jingles for him. There was so much freedom to improvise when working with Rahman." Even before all this Sunanda had lent her voice for a Malayalam film. "That was for a National Award winning documentary 'Nokkukuthi' by M. Govindan. The music for this was by Dr. Ramesh.It was Jerry Amaldev who introduced Sunanda to Malayalam films. The film was 'Adhyaayam Onnu Mudal' and the song 'Akku thikku..... " Sunanda went on to sing in three Hindi films, 'Rang,' 'Sambandh,' and 'Girafdhari,' under the baton of Nadeem-Shravan. Despite this, Sunanda suddenly found the offers drying up. "Maybe I did not know how to go about the whole thing. And I, with two kids to manage, must have lagged in keeping touch with my contacts. I'm now slowly trying to put my career back, piece by piece."Making a comeback with the focus on Carnatic music, she is training under Sangeetha Kalanidhi T.M. Thyagarajan and K. R. Kedaranathan in the true Semmangudi 'baani.' Sunanda has come out with some innovative albums. "There is one called 'Nitya Praarthana,' which has slokas for the entire day right from waking up in the morning till going to bed at night. I was also part of a novel experiment with Thiruvizha Jayashankar on the nadaswaram and Valayapatti on the thavil. I also hope to make a return to the film circuit if the right offers come my way."