Recipe for success

Effervescent Sudha Ragunathan Photo: G. Moorthy

Effervescent Sudha Ragunathan Photo: G. Moorthy  

MEET Meticulous, hard working and experienced, Sudha Ragunathan is basking in glory

Y ears of singing Carnatic music on stage has contributed a lot to her personality. With loads of experience and bagful of awards, popular singer Sudha Ragunathan still retains her child like enthusiasm when it comes to music and performance.

“It is all in how fit you are. When you are on stage you are expected to perform well, there is no sympathy. People expect value for their time and money. More than that, when the supply is less, the expectations of the music-starved public soar high and it is your responsibility to give a good concert. As most of my concerts are decided well in advance, my preparations too start a month before. I do a lot of yoga, pranayama and meditation to recharge myself. I have also learnt to conserve energy. It particularly helps me during my foreign concerts, in countries like US where climatic conditions are extremes,” she reels off.

Respects guru

Quite articulate, she owes her success to her guru M.L. Vasanthakumari, a doyen of Carnatic music. “I learnt the art of what to sing to which audience from my master. I try to simplify the music without altering its structural shape. For, there is a grammar, convention, tradition and format for this art. I respect it and give it as it is. After all, you communicate with your audience. Music is a language of emotion. Emotions differ in different strata of society. At the end of concert some aspect of your performance should linger with them and that should be your mission,” she points out.

Transcended boundaries

Having succeeded in her field of choice, she has also transcended boundaries and associated herself with world music. “I am working with two different groups in Germany and France. The group in Germany comprise artistes from United States, Hungary, Switzerland and Madagascar apart from host nation and India. The France group includes performers from France, South Africa and Iran. Between 2000 and 2008, we have performed at international festivals in Spain, Norway and Sweden. The experience is so electrifying that new music evolves at the end of the day,” Ms. Sudha Ragunathan beams.

Though she likes to be a fulcrum and bring in world music to the country, the cost factor for the performance package puts her off. For which she expects the Government to come forward and support to take music to the next level.

She has also performed with Jazz specialist Amit Heri of Bangalore. In the film ‘Morning Raga' in which he scored the music, she has sung for Shabana Azmi. Amit Heri's fusion became a huge hit.

Through her ‘Samuthaya Foundation', she does a lot of social work in field of children, health and education. Over the past decade she has helped destitute, physically and mentally challenged children.

Sudha has also ventured into film music with considerable success. Very choosy, her films songs from the film ‘Ivan' to the latest ‘Anal mele panithuli …' in the movie ‘Varanam Ayiram' and ‘Yeno, Yeno panithuli…' from ‘Aadhavan' have brought her closer to the common man.

Film music

“Film music reaches out to millions. It is instant and your identity is well established among the masses. Sometimes it also indirectly helps me to drag people into my Carnatic music concerts. Not all would be interested but there are people who have come to see me perform on stage. Modern music has opened the field for a lot of youngsters. In a way it is good. If you have good voice and rhythm sense you stand a good chance. Also there are so many now wish to learn Carnatic music only to sustain in film music. But again, not everybody can become good classical singer. For, it requires years of hard work and practice,” she explains.

Having achieved so much in Carnatic music, she is now trying to take it to places where it is not given much importance. “We are planning to introduce Carnatic music in Corporation schools. We want to expose the children to some fine sounds so that it refines them,” she signs off.


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