They are our unsung heroes. Soft-spoken Timothy Madhukar, known as Timmy among friends and musicians, started out playing for ‘Burn’ of the early Nineties, got behind the keyboard for ‘Moksha’ and now sings for ‘Roxygen.’ He also flirted with Tamil film music (Remember ‘Dil’?) and Tamil pop (Srinivas’s ‘Ussele Ussele’).The unassuming Ranjith too has for long played second fiddle to celebrated singers before arriving with ‘Pokkiri’, ‘Thiruvilayadal Arambam’ and now ‘Chennai 600028’. So when Timmy and Ranjith met at the former’s studio recently, there was a sense of empathy and mutual respect. The duo hummed ‘Endrendrum Punnagai’ specially for the MetroPlus photo-shoot. Sudhish Kamath showed up for the recording.Timmy: Every time I switch on the radio, you are on. So you are singing quite a bit. Really nice songs as well.
Ranjith: (Sings a bit of ‘Jalsa Panungada…’) Well, Karthik, Tippu,
Haricharan and I sang it…
Timmy: ‘Suppose’ was a big hit, no?
Ranjith: It was my big break in terms of reach. That’s when people recognised my name. I have always admired your harmony. I like the opening you did for ‘Ussele Ussele’.
Timmy: We have a riot when we get together.
Ranjith: I still remember ‘Dil Dil,’ which had your authentic rock singing in it. It really rocked.
Timmy: (smiles) That was the first big song for me. You have a band as well?
Ranjith: I had a band. Not anymore. With Shudeep Chandrashekar, we had a fusion band before I came into the industry. We did a couple of shows in Singapore and some here. We were in the ‘Colonial Cousins’ mode then. laughs) But we learnt a lot by experimenting. Tell me about your band days.
Timmy: Music has always been about bands for me, from Day One. We had five or six people in a band, the fun element was always there. When we do commercial music, it’s mostly machines because of the time constraint. A couple of bands did really well. I miss Moksha now. Roxygen still goes on.
Ranjith: I remember asking you, ‘Why you don’t sing for Moksha now.’ And you told me every band has its own sound.
Timmy: (gets a little emotional) After Leon’s (Leon Ireland) death, Christy (Samuel) left for Australia but even if he had stayed, it would’ve been so difficult… (his voice cracks) I can’t imagine. But that’s my mindset. Moksha’s sound would change if someone else sings for it. We are so used to being part of the band. Do you sing only your songs when you do shows?
Ranjith: Sometimes other songs that I enjoy singing…
Timmy: Like we do covers…
Ranjith: Yeah, covers depending on the kind of audience. Tell me about your venture into ads.
Timmy: I learnt a lot of programming from Jim Sathya. What I do now is mostly music for TV commercials… Ford, Panasonic, Tanishq, Wipro, Kumaran Silks, Spinz… (hoping not to leave anyone out, continues) EVP Hi Tiles, Premier range of products…
Ranjith: When did you start this studio?
Timmy: Four years now. What will be the scene like for you in the future?
Ranjith: I wish I knew. But anyway, it will be music. I’m also experimenting. I want to do more shows. I want to establish my individuality. Film music is always about the actor. I want to break free and develop my own kind of music. Let’s see. Are you going to continue with your band?
Timmy: The band scene is always at the back of my head. Someday we want to bring out that album. We have to do this for Leon; it was his dream.
Ranjith: How did you get into the film industry?
Timmy: We were recording an album for ‘Burn’ in 1994 (We had started it in 1990)… Once we finished the album, the band broke up.
Ranjith: At that point, wasn’t it difficult? Most of the times you come together, you get into the groove and are ready to do something and something goes wrong.
Timmy: Because when six people want to be together, they also have different minds and goals. The most difficult thing for a band is to be together. So while we were recording the album, Media Artists’ Sridhar put me on to Vidyasagar who had come to the studio. Before that, I had sung a Tamil version of ‘Whole New World’ (laughs)… It took me four hours to record it because I wasn’t used to singing in Tamil. What did you do before films?Ranjith: I did my graduation and had to take care of my Dad’s business (industrial safety equipment). I figured I wasn’t made for it. But, I had something to fall back on. Chandran was the person who put me on to Manisharma who was then working on ‘Asai Asaiyay’… I was only one of the four doing backup and he noticeD. He really encouraged me. Everywhere, I started off with backup and then, they gave me a break.
Timmy: When you sing back-up, you get a lot of experience with mike control, and get used to the vibe of the music director .
Ranjith: Yes, back-up is a good thing to sit back and study the whole atmosphere. Like you said, there is less pressure on you compared to facing the mike alone… Harmony is a world of its own because it’s a different art. So, how old are you?
Timmy: I’m very old. I’m 35. (laughs)
Ranjith: I’m very young. I’m 30. (laughs)