‘Chennai is blessed with diverse music’

An interview with Rajiv Menon, Indian director and cinematographer

Updated - August 16, 2023 11:59 am IST

Published - August 16, 2023 10:52 am IST

Rajiv Menon

Rajiv Menon

Your fondest memory of Chennai? 

I was in Class 8 when my family moved back to Chennai. I think it was around 1977 and I used to take multiple buses from R.A. Puram to get to school inside IIT-Madras. For someone living in the city, travelling into the mini forest-like environment of IIT-Madras was something I loved. The academic environment at my school, the greenery, and the deer in the school yard — it was beautiful and I was lucky to study there! 

We would also pass by the Adyar River and there used to be catamaran boats where one could see people fishing. Gandhinagar had big trees and big bungalows. This was such a beautiful part of Chennai. 

Tell us about the music scene in Chennai. 

In R.A. Puram where I lived or Mylapore, there’s Carnatic music, north Madras has gaana, Kodambakkam has a whole bunch of musicians from all over India coming down for film music, and old temples have nadaswaram artists. I remember even going to the Officers Training Academy (OTA) to listen to the military bands play, and the choirs at St. Andrew’s Kirk. I don’t think any other city has been so blessed with such diverse music.

In my films as well, you keep seeing music as an important aspect. We saw this big transition which happened in music in Chennai over the years and some of the greatest people in music are from here.  It is an incredible feeling that a city that was created for trading has become so much more. What differentiates Chennai from everywhere else is its people.

Happy Birthday Chennai, and I am Rajiv Menon- Made of Chennai! 

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