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On song with Nithyashree

Nithyashree Venkataramanan is busy brushing up on Accountancy for her upcoming board examinations. She hates the subject and she knows she’s already missed almost four months of lessons in the last year.

That’s when she was on the sets of the popular Indian Idol, where she was eventually named runner-up. Nithyashree, the first contestant from Tamil Nadu to reach the finals, is already popular in the musical circuit in Chennai, thanks to her stint in Airtel Super Singer Junior. She also recently received the Young Achiever Award of the Rotary Club of Madras.

The Indian Idol experience seems to have taught the 16-year-old a lot. “All the participants stayed in the same hotel; we had no television, no telephone,” she recalls, “It was all very systematic and strict; our practice sessions were closely monitored.”

It was those 78 days in Mumbai that brought Nithyashree, a happy-go-lucky girl from Anna Nagar, out of her comfort zone. The language was an issue; she struggled with Hindi. “I was the only person who spoke English… so much so that everybody started calling me ‘Miss English’. I had to work a lot with Anand Sharma sir and Anuj sir to correct my pronunciation.”

Her musical journey started when she was quite young — four, to be precise — when she corrected a tune sung by her mother. “Amma was super excited,” she recalls. “She immediately called my father, who took off from office and came home. There was major excitement.”

It didn’t stop there. Her parents immediately started training her in Carnatic music; in a year, the five-year-old was part of her father’s band.

Her association with Tamil musical reality show Super Singer brought her into the limelight.

Again, she was young — just nine — and in a category (six to 15 years) with stiff competition, but she came through as one of the favourites. “There was a lot of learning involved; I had a nasality in my voice that voice coach Ananth sir helped me get rid of,” she states.

Soon, film offers came in. Yuvan Shankar roped her in for a song in Avan Ivan and Dheena got her to sing four songs in Jamai. “My role model is Asha Bhosle; she is such a versatile singer and can handle any genre that comes her way. I want to imbibe that quality.”

Also on her wishlist is getting on stage for a full-fledged classical concert. “That has been one of amma’s dreams too,” she says, “But she wants me to be fully trained before I take that step.”

One of the biggest challenges for Nithyashree, now a performer too, is the pressure of being a professional singer at such a young age. “Usually, when my friends are playing, I am practising… but I feel that’s okay because I love what I do,” says the Class XII student of SBOA School and Junior College. A fine music-life balance is something Nithyashree has to work on in the future. For now, her concentration is on getting the balance sheet right.

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Printable version | Jan 10, 2021 10:34:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/On-song-with-Nithyashree/article14019535.ece

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