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Cradling a dream

CHITRA SWAMINATHAN
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Chat Bombay Jayashri on singing the Oscar-nominated ‘Pi’s Lullaby’

The prefix to her name refers to India’s thriving cosmopolitan megapolis from where she hails but it’s hard to contain the appeal of her music to a region, not even to the country. Now, Bombay Jayashri’s Oscar nomination for writing the Tamil song ‘Pi’s Lullaby’ (which she also sang) for director Ang Lee’s Life of Pi bears out her skill to blend populist instincts into the aesthetic. “I am overwhelmed. The nomination reflects upon the profound influence of music and literature in a shrinking world. Somebody asked me how could the jury that had no Tamil-speaking member appreciate the lullaby? And I said you do not need to understand the meaning of the words to experience the emotion,” says Jayashri.

The announcement has taken the classical world by surprise, since she is the first Carnatic artiste to win this prestigious nomination. “That creativity is about unrestricted imagination and multi-cultural alliances came through in this composition that was written by a Tamilian and a Carnatic musician, set to music by a Canadian Mychael Danna (nominated for Best Original Score) and visualised by a Taiwanese, Ang Lee.” Every such inventive outing makes you refreshed and energised for further creative challenges, says Jayashri, who recorded the lullaby a year ago in Mumbai. “It took about four days to put together the small number ‘Kanne Kanmanniye’. Lee was very clear about what he wanted. Though he does not understand Tamil, he would ask if I could replace a particular word with something else. It was amazing. He told me ‘let it sound the way you would sing to your son. I want a mother’s love in it, not a literary piece. A child sleeps not because he is sleepy, but because he feels safe.’ He handheld me through every line and the result is there for everyone to hear.”

CHITRA SWAMINATHAN

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