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On a perfect pitch

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Hamsalekha, who has enamoured us with his music, is now all set to make his directorial debut and has forayed into the world of television too

Tuning in to Zee Kannada on weekends sure is a treat for Hamsalekha fans. The music maestro is one of the judges for Season 14 of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs. The composer is excited about his foray into television. “I am thrilled to be a part of the show. I chose this particular show because my music school will be involved in it too. The singers chosen to be a part of the show will be taught music in my school besides we will fund their education. We will also help them get government jobs. This way, they will get a taste of reality and reality shows,” says Hamsalekha, who is also known as the Nada Brahma of music.

The man who dons many hats – singer, composer, lyricist, writer, is a little embarrassed about the title and says, “I don’t deserve such an honour. It all started off when one journalist referred to me like that in his story. And, the name stuck on ever since.”

Does he feel TV is promoting or destroying music? “I always watched reality shows with scepticism. These shows lure youth, especially from rural areas. They dream about being a part of such shows and are giving up their regular livelihood such as pottery or farming to become TV stars. Today, importance is given to cultural performances everywhere. People call me asking for a break on TV as singers. I have seen parents come and live here to fulfil their child’s dreams. So, yes, I believe TV has encouraged all genres of dance, music and acting,” affirms Hamsalekha, who has announced his directorial debut, Shakuntale.

The music director is venturing into direction after 300 odd films as a composer. “I always dreamt of being a director,” says Hamsalekha explaining why he took to composing first. “When I came into films, I found a vacuum in the field of lyricists, writers and composers. My friends advised me to focus on music and forget direction for the time being. That is how I became a composer,” narrates the man who is also known as a singer’s music director as he “can match the voice and note to a particular song and singer”.

Hamsalekha credits his theatre training for his success. “Theatre taught me to convert a scene into a vision.” He cites the example of Ravichandran’s Prema Loka, the song, “Nodamma hudugi, kelamma...”, is a story in itself from the time the heroine (Juhi Chawla) takes admission in a college to meeting the hero. “It is depicted in a song and is a story on its own. That is my strength,” beams the man, who adds he was a part of Viveka Ranga theatre troupe and travelled across the country. “I know what it is to be an actor, lighting man and how to pack up in the end after the show.”

After years of theatre, Hamsalekha was “hooked to watching films by Guru Dutt and V Shantaram – both Kannadigas. Guru Dutt was popular for his black and white scenes and underplaying emotions. V Shantaram’s films were colourful and musically dominated. His films made me notice Western music and inspired me to learn it.”

So, Hamsalekha, who was already a trained Carnatic and Hindutani singer, went on to learn Western music from SK Joseph, one of the country’s biggest band masters and from the best organist — Sebastian. “I learnt all the nuances from the duo. But, whatever I learnt from them has not been used in cinema yet,” he says with a laugh. Looking at our shocked expression, he explains, “Our industry is a little disorganised and indisciplined. The music is created amidst all this. Emotions are given importance here. Once they see the emotion, a third person documents it, someone else arranges the music and it goes on. I want to direct a film that is loaded with colourful songs like V Shantaram’s and have black and white scenes like Guru Dutt’s films.”

He adds that now producers are waiting for him to direct films. “I have four projects on hand and the first is Shakuntale, a glamourous musical love story,” he reveals. Hamsalekha has written, directed and scored music by Hamsalekha himself. “Normally, technology is used for gimmicks, but here I will use it for poetic reasons. Shakuntale will be shot in a forest, surrounded by mountains. There will be many youngsters in the film as well as a few big Bollywood actors. I shall not reveal more.”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 4:52:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/on-a-perfect-pitch/article22450204.ece

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