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Flautist Naveen Kumar talks beyond bread and butter

Flautist Naveen Kumar

Flautist Naveen Kumar  

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The musician reflects on independent music scene in the country, his music album and working in films

It would have been rather apt to request Naveen Kumar’s flute to describe his musical journey, as he readies for a conversation during one of his rare-yet-treasured visits to Hyderabad. “I’ve never really had a good opportunity, except now, to see the city well despite being so fond of it. My brother stays here too,” he starts.

He then goes on a nostalgic trip down his musical career, remembering A R Rahman. Prior to composing the ‘Bombay Theme’, Rahman had asked him to produce what sounded like a water drop on a leaf.

And what happened next was a spell of magic that never had him look back again. From being a shy teenager in Visakhapatnam who’d nervously played ‘ Mounamelanaoyi’ (a song from Sagarasangamam) in front of Ilayaraja to working for the best in the business including A R Rahman, Amit Trivedi, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Pritam, his hard-earned identity as an instrumentalist continues to inspire many.

The man who has had his trysts as a singer and violinist early in his life switches from ‘ Munni Badnaam Hui’ to ‘ Anjali Anjali Pushpanjali’ to ‘ Dhoom Machale’ with equal control, crossing barriers associated with a song, be it fast-paced, melody or folk, with the same ease. “Well, that’s the beauty of music. The mind tunes itself with the song the composer gives and I come up with an improvised version,” he says making it sound like a piece of cake.

Sounding a little cautious on the prospects for young flautists, he says, “The people who teach you to play the flute have reduced in the two Telugu states. Even as there are about 300-400 qualified young flautists, most of them haven’t gone beyond traditional music. They haven’t been individualistic enough to experiment more.” Most of them, he confesses, are just eager to jump the wagon and play in clubs, before exploring depths. “That’s one reason we haven’t been able to produce a band like Eagles or Beatles.”

He’s candid enough to admit that his real joy lies in producing albums, his work in films is basically his bread and better. “Albums are where I can deliver something that I can call my own where the results are more matured. Films are business at the end of the day and restrict your horizons. It’s good shuttling between both of them though,” the flautist opines, giving due credit to Colonial Cousins (of Hariharan and Lesle Lewis) in providing a fillip to independent music in the country.

He is just back from working for Fitoor and Mohenjodaro. On an international level, Jungle Book the film is keeping him busy and amidst this hectic schedule, he has kept track of the glowing reviews his fourth album, ‘Silence of Bliss’, has been receiving worldwide. “I grew up learning Carnatic music but this album warmed me up to Hindustani too. This is a kind of a meditative album with an operatic touch and the form ensures the blend well,” he reveals.

Apart from his Western counterparts, he cherishes the time he took out to collaborate with artistes from the north-east for the album. “You talk about Arunachal, Manipur and all you’d want to speak about is the picturesque nature the regions are enveloped by. This had me connect with nature like never before,” Naveen remarks. The album was sent to the Grammy Awards where it went up to the second round.

Where the flute talks

-Bombay Theme (Bombay)

-Anjali Anjali (Duet)

-Pacchani Chilukalu (Bharateeyudu)

-Dhoom Machale (Dhoom)

-Munni Badnaam (Dabanng)

High points

-A collection of over 300 flutes

-A flute named after him

-Plays the flute with an Iphone app

-Worked with Ilaiyaraja, A R Rahman, Amit Trivedi, Pritam and Shankar Ehsaan Loy

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 2:27:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/flautist-naveen-kumar-talks-beyond-bread-and-butter/article8188534.ece

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