My first break

Songbird Sunanda  

How it happened

I am from Kerala, and my father’s friend once took me to Ilaiyaraaja. He asked me to sing, and I sang a Swathithrirunal keerthanai. He asked me to practise more, and called me in a couple days to sing ‘Kathal Mayakkam’ for Puthumai Pen. That was my first song, and I am happy it came from the maestro.

How it felt

I was happy to see my name and hear my voice in the film. Earlier, my brother and I had sung Carnatic songs and recited slokas for a Malayalam documentary Nokku Kuthi by M. Govindan. But this was a new experience. After the release of Puthumai Pen, I became busier. My family, including my two brothers who were trained in Carnatic music, was a source of help to me. I too learnt Carnatic vocal under T.M. Thyagarajan.

How things changed

I began to sing for all South Indian language and Hindi and Oriya films. I’ve sung nearly 400 songs in 100 films. Though I like all my songs, two of them are special to me, my friends and family — ‘Mannava Mannava’ from Walter Vetrivel and ‘Shenbagame’ (the happy version) from Engaooru Paatukaaran. As my husband had a transferable job, we kept moving, and I lost touch with the industry. Now that I am back, I’d like to continue from where I left.