Singer Arya Dhayal’s videos featuring a mix of Carnatic and Western music go viral

Arya Dhayal   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Singer Arya Dhayal still can’t believe that she has a fan in Amitabh Bachchan. He wrote on his Facebook page, “…girl you are a very special talent…you have brightened my day in the hospital like never before…” The megastar, admitted in a hospital in Mumbai after testing positive for COVID-19, was bowled over by her video in which she mellifluously combines Suddha Dhanyasi raga with Ed Sheeran’s phenomenal hit, ‘Shape of you’. Plucking the strings of her ukulele, Arya belts out the swaras of the raga and melds it seamlessly with Sheeran’s song. Arya has replied in her post: “I am above clouds. Never in my dreams did I imagine that you would listen to me singing”.

The ease with which she sings and swaps genres has made her the toast of social media. While the Ed Sheeran-Suddha Dhanyasi jugalbandhi was posted earlier, the latest video that has gone viral has a seamless mix of swaras in Thodi, a Kathakali padam from Nalacharitham Day IV and ‘Believer’ by Imagine Dragons. The medley, uploaded on July 14, has got more than 23 lakh views on Instagram and crossed 3 lakh views on her YouTube page. Among her followers are musicians, filmmakers and actors, including Hariharan, Srinivas, Sreevalsan J Menon, Shahabaz Aman, Bejoy Nambiar, Parvathy Thiruvothu….

Followers on her Insta page have gone up from 4,300 to 1.4 lakh after the video was posted. “YouTube subscribers and Facebook followers too have seen a corresponding rise. It is overwhelming. I was expecting a backlash for using Kathakali sangeetham in my experiments. But, thankfully, the idea was appreciated,” she says. In her new video, she has fused the track of the popular retro number ‘Confusion theerkkaname’ in Shanmukhapriya raga from the film Summer in Bethlehem with Billie Eilish’s ‘Bad guy’.


The 24-year-old, currently staying in Bengaluru, says that it was music that kept her going during the lockdown. “I’ve finished my studies and was on the lookout for jobs when the nation went into a shut down. It was depressing. But the lockdown gave me time to study music and practise. So, every evening, I would go on to the terrace of my paying guest accommodation with a cup of tea and shoot a song. Now that I have moved to another apartment, I make the videos in my room itself,” says Arya, a native of Kannur in Kerala.

Melange of music

She had been posting videos on her social media pages with karaoke tracks until she bought an ukulele a month ago and learnt to play it through YouTube tutorials. Arya says that she “always has had fun” mixing Carnatic and Western music and used to do it on Smule. Among her earlier “experiments” are Charlie Puth’s ‘We don’t talk anymore’ with ‘Entharo mahanubhavulu’ and The Chainsmokers’ ‘Closer’ and ‘Vathapi ganapathim’. “I haven’t learnt Western music. But I could pick up the notes and enjoyed adding a Carnatic flavour and technique to those. Like, the ‘Carnaticised’ version of Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’. Ever since I began playing the ukulele, the process has become more flexible and I am doing it properly,” she says.


Before she finalises a mix, she shares the idea in her friends’ circle for suggestions and approval. She mixes different songs until she is satisfied with the result. It takes at least a week to finish a song.

Trained in classical music from childhood, her parents ensured that she did not miss out on her music lessons. Among her teachers are Vasumathi, Jayasree Rajeev, Rajeev Kumar, Kovai SR Krishnamoorthy and Kalamandalam Hari who taught her Kathakali sangeetham.

She shot to fame on social media in 2016 for her soulful recital of a poem, ‘Sakhavu’. A fan of “all genres of music irrespective of the language”, Arya says that she often checks out “least recommended songs” on music apps. She brought out a single in English, ‘Try my self’, last year and another single, also in English, is in the making.

“Several offers have come in and most of them have promised to get back once the situation gets better. I want to become financially independent before I venture out into independent music. Till then I will go with the flow,” she says.

Check out her songs on her YouTube page (Arya Dhayal) or Instagram (@aryadhayal)

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 4:28:45 PM |

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