Music

Living many lives through music

Manjari Photo: Special arrangement

Manjari Photo: Special arrangement  

Manjari talks about her new music video, ‘Namo Narayana’ and her experiments with notes

Playback singer and Hindustani musician Manjari has a voice that touches your heart. She is that rare singer in Malayalam whose voice can give life to different genres of music with ease, be it film music, Hindustani classical, light songs or ghazals. She is all set for the release of her third single, ‘Namo Narayana’, as a music video. Slated to be released by the end of this month, it is also the first venture of her band, ‘Tat Tvam Asi by Manjari’.

‘Namo Narayana’ is a plea on behalf of all those women who continue to be suppressed and tortured in different spheres of life. The song is a rearrangement of the famous kriti, ‘Karuna cheyvaan enthu’ written by Irayimman Thampi on Lord Krishna. “This is one song that I have always loved to hear and sing. So I thought why not give it a new colour and flavour. Even when we talk a lot about women empowerment, the reality is that women continue to be subjugated at their homes and in public spaces. Her freedom continues to be curtailed. Unfortunately she is not aware of the power within her. So the song is a request to the all-powerful Lord to help her stand up for herself,” says Manjari.

Manjari in a still from the video of ‘Namo Narayana’

Manjari in a still from the video of ‘Namo Narayana’  

Talking about her band, Manjari says that it will have its own compositions. “We started with ‘Karuna cheyvaan...’ because we found it perfect for reprogramming. Otherwise we will come up with our own songs,” she says.

Composing is an area she has been exploring for a while now. In fact she sings many of her compositions at her ghazal concerts. “I am looking forward to compose more and get different singers to sing for me. When you score a song, you get to know the effort that goes into it. It is a learning experience and life is all about learning new things,” says the two-time Kerala State award winner for the best singer.

So is it part of exploring new vistas that we get to hear her less of her in Mollywood? “Not really. Actually I am busy with my concerts. I am doing ghazal concerts in different parts of North India, such as Ludhiana, Surat, Patna, Kolkata... This started after I did the ghazal-based programme ‘Khayal’ on television. I keep getting messages from fans in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Middle East... Recently I did a concert in Doha, where a lot of Pakistanis came in to listen. I usually explain what the ghazal is about, especially if it is a Malayali crowd, to connect better with them. Many of the listeners request for my own compositions. Otherwise they love to hear Ghulam Ali and Mehdi Hassan. One of my favourites is Ghulam Ali’s ‘Hungama hai kyon’ and Mehdi Hassan’s ‘Humain koi gham’. As for singing less in Malayalam films, the composers here know the kind of songs I sing and whenever such a song comes up they call me,” she says.

She has already sung for Shaan Rahman in Prithviraj-Parvathy starrer My Story and Rajiv Nath’s upcoming flick, Poottu.

Commenting on the current crop of composers and musicians, Manjari believes that they are very serious about the job. “But I wish they spent little more time with the singers. Now a singer is more or less like a dummy. There is very little interaction happening between the singer and composer and among singers as well. That should change,” she says.

Before signing off, in response to a question, she talks about her tryst with the camera, having acted in three of her music videos - ‘Aiy Aiy Yaa’ (Hindi), ‘Anuragam’ (Malayalam) and now ‘Namo Narayana’. While the first one was shot in Dubai, the second was directed by V. K. Prakash. ‘Namo Narayana’ has been directed by Sumesh Lal for Aum-i Productions.

“(Laughs) When I saw myself on screen for the first time, I felt I should have done better. People saw me in a new look and it was a fun-filled shoot with my whole family present there while we made the video. I used to do theatre while in school and it was like going back to school. See, one has to do a lot of things in life... as age advances, I feel younger and it’s like I am starting a new life...”

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 2:15:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/Living-many-lives-through-music/article16686931.ece

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