In her own style

SOULFUL SINGER Annupamaa. Photo: Special Arrangement  

The song ‘ Konjam Nilavu…’ from Thiruda Thiruda set a trend in Indian film music and became an all time favourite. The person who lent her voice to the song is Annupamaa, who puts heart and soul in whatever she does.

Though her debut song was ‘ July Maadham Vandhaal…’ from Pudhiya Mugam, it was the second song that shot her into fame. Her timbre voice and unique singing style set her apart from other playback singers of the time. “I never thought I could become one as I was working for an ad agency and doing more of English jingles. But Rahman asked me to do a Tamil song. Chitra was supposed to sing it but finally I ended up singing July Maadham Vandhaal and it came out well ,” she says .

Bred in Delhi, she credits her successful career in music to her school teachers Jenkins Dennis and Manuel. “They were the people who pushed me into singing Western music. It was a big challenge for me as I was the odd one in a family of Carnatic music lovers. I was very shy and reticent. They introduced me to good old pops of the 60s and 70s and I gradually glided into Western music listening to Cliff Richard and Jim Reeves,” she adds.

As a child, Annupamaa grew up on Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle songs. Once competing against professional singers at the National Youth Festival at YMCA, she won the first prize. “I sang ‘ Let’s hear it for boys’ from Footloose and stunned everybody present because none of the other competitors were familiar with Rhythm and Blues.”

After returning to Chennai, Annupamaa continued to do ad jingles but remained associated with Rahman. “I was part of his back up vocal team along with singer Sujatha. But he treated all of us equally,” she says.

Most of her songs became popular including the ‘Mercury Pookal’ from Ratchagan, ‘Rahatulla’ from Ghajini and ‘Break the rules’ from Boys. Success followed her as she sang in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam film songs. “As music is all about self expression, I wish to create an impact with my singing style,” she says.

Annupamaa won Star Screen Award Best Female Playback nomination for her soulful singing in the song Yeh Raat and her songs in Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na won her accolades. An ardent film buff that she is, she always wanted to become a filmmaker. “It was my dream to join National School of Drama, which I could not. I loved watching films of Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Girish Kasaravalli. I have done theatre with Balakrishnan Venkataraman of Theatre Nisha. He was a student of Nazeeruddin Shah,” she says.

Annupamaa has evolved over the years. She has not stopped with film songs but diversified into social activities. In 2013, she composed and sang an anthem for the First China South Asia Expo held in Kunming, China and won an award for being one of the 10 best entries out of 177 entries world over.

She is an ambassador for ‘We for WE’, a Jalandhar-based NGO for women empowerment which is present in 18 countries besides India. She is also the representative for the NGO’s South India Chapter and has composed and sung an anthem on women empowerment for them.

At present, Annupamaa is busy campaigning in various cities against child abuse. She is also planning to make one-minute short films on several issues plaguing the society.


Songs she loves to hear:

Zindagi ka safar by Kishore Kumar (Anand)

Aaja Raja by Asha Bhonsle (Teesri Manzil)

Minnaley by SPB (May Maadham)

I will always love you by Whitney Houston (Body Guard)

Ey zindagi gale laga le… Suresh Wadekar (Sadma)

Films she loves to watch:

Life is beautiful

Pather Panchali

Ship of Theseus


Kaaka Muttai

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 9:25:29 AM |

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