Interview Music

Meet Prashanth Vihari, the music composer of ‘Chi la Sow’

Sound board Prashanth Vihari at work

Sound board Prashanth Vihari at work

Engineering has claimed many a talent but there is this person who reclaimed his life from engineering — Prashanth Vihari, the music director of Chi La Sow . Prashanth’s story is heart-warming in that it shows wannabe composers and film enthusiasts that success stories are neither made overnight, nor take massive strokes of luck – they come with a dedicated stream of work and patience in waiting for the opportune moment. That and a soft corner from his teachers at KITS, he adds, ensured he didn’t fail even as he spent most of his time with the college band that he helped start.

Connected dots

A graduate from KITS, Warangal, Prashanth took his calling seriously after engineering, in 2012, when he left for Chennai, a city for which his fondness is scarcely hidden. Though he joined the piano-preparatory course at AR Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory as a step towards a bigger goal, it was LV Prasad Film Academy which honed the artist in him, he asserts. Chance had a lot to do with it. Having bumped into a friend, Vishwak, Prashanth got an chance to compose for 20-minute thesis features of stunning quality. That was his greatest learning experience, he reveals, that he was getting paid for it was the icing on the cake. That was also probably his transformation from someone predominantly into singing to one who could score music. I am experimenting with ambient music, with a touch of ‘dreamy’ rather than ‘dominant’ for my next project, with hints of ‘dubstep’ and ‘electronic’ without overdoing it.

Prashanth has gone from strength to strength since Yakub Ali gave him his first break in Vellipomakey . His obvious fondness for ‘ O Muga Manasa’ spills out as he compliments the singer, Abhijit Rao, whose distinct voice lent shape to the song. ‘I like to see composing as a collaborative effort. Therefore, I like singers who can improvise. I don’t prefer being technically rigid, handing them a set of notes to pull off,’ shares Prashanth.

“I am especially thankful to wonderful guys like Adivi Sesh and Nani who shared my Vellipomakey track on social media. That was a significant step. Raj Kandukuri discovered me thence and gave me a chance with the Vivek Athreya-directed Mental Madhilo , whose soundtrack was widely appreciated,” Prashanth recounts. Rahul Ravindran giving him an unexpected ring purely based on the ‘sound’ of his BGM from Vellipomakey , in August 2017, and then backing him, was a pleasant surprise.

The dots continue to connect as one of the lyricists of Chi La Sow , and his good friend, Kittu, introduced him to Sankalp Reddy, who roped him in for a space thriller. The young music director heaps praise on contemporaries like Gopi Sundar ( Geetha Govindam ) and Vivek Sagar ( Sammohanam ).

Sound of his music

Prashanth’s sound is rustic and has a gentle twang to it, a characteristic he probably borrows from his affinity to Sathya Sai bhajans that he used to sing at Shivam in Hyderabad. He still composes jingles once in a while for Radio Sai. “Bhajans have the kind of structure I love in music, the build-up, the crescendo, and the surge of emotions. They inspire,” he comments on their influence, talking about how he is not religious but definitely spiritual. He also feels word of mouth has brought him to where he is.

‘I am experimenting with ambient music, with a touch of ‘dreamy’ rather than ‘dominant’ for my next project, with hints of ‘dubstep’ and ‘electronic’ without overdoing it,’ Prashant adds. An admirer of Indian Carnatic music, he also wants to collaborate with Hindustani artists at some point of time. His dream project though is to go to every nook and corner of Andhra and Telangana and record live music, with primitive instruments played by locals and natives, far away from mainstream awareness.

Prashanth also cites a wide variety of influences from Linkin Park and Coldplay to AR Rahman, Ilayaraja, Santosh Narayanan and MS Vishwanathan. He loves Stuccato, Masala Coffee and Indian Raga amongst those projects which are redefining India’s independent music scene and is quite fond of artists he has collaborated with like Sharath J, his sound engineer, Arun Chiluveru, his guitarist and Raghav Simhan, a violinist he works with often, along with band members, Bala and Ganesh.

A big fan of Hariharan, Prashanth loves Sid Sriram and Chinmayee among contemporary playback singers and Santhosh Narayanan’s complex range of sounds blending folk and rock.

Hopes for the future

Prashanth hopes Telugu cinema gives the neo-noir generation that breadth to breathe and experiment. Things are changing fast here; people are evolving from ‘cliched’ to ‘experimental’, just as they did in Chennai years ago, giving a market for something that is pure. He hopes for a generation of ethical ‘art critics’ who can go beyond just ‘rating’ to introduce audiences to the world of ‘art appreciation’. ‘The artist’s perspective, whether it is music or movie, matters and strong opinions will only discourage newbies like me from spreading wings,’ he signs off.


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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 2:51:25 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/meet-prashanth-vihari-the-music-composer-of-chi-la-sow/article24678806.ece