A saga of magic

MELLIFLUOUS Enthralling the crowd PHOTO: K. PITCHUMANI  

Sudha Raghunathan whose love for music and social cause is equal, writes M. BALAGANESSIN

She has come to epitomise Carnatic music, having achieved national and international acclaim. But like all other achievers, it has been a long journey involving years of hard toil, endless hours of practice and dedication to excel in the chosen field.

Unfulfilled passion

It is difficult to believe that Sudha Raghunathan took to music by sheer accident. Her early ambition was to become a civil servant. In fact, even after becoming popular as a vocalist, she used to look at IAS officers, with `unfulfilled passion'.Taking out time from her busy schedule, Sudha Raghunathan recently spent a day in the city participating in functions. She was also conferred the Vocational Excellence Award by the Rotary Club of Tiruchi Fort. Though she came unprepared and was without any accompaniment, Sudha mesmerised the audience, rendering the late Rajaji's "Kurai ondrum illai" in Ragamalika during her performance. When Metro Plus caught up with her for a brief chat, she came across as a humble and down-to-earth person. Has she filled the void left by M.S.Subbulakshmi? "I cannot be compared to the great singer?" pat she replied modestly.

Responsibility is more

When told that the Padmashri conferred on a Carnatic singer from the State after a long gap was the reason for such a comparison, she said every honour - Padmashri or the `Vocational Excellence Award' - only "increases her responsibility to stand up to the expectation of music-lovers and critics."What shocks her most is the haste amidst budding artistes to climb the ladder without undertaking rigorous practice or `sadhana' in music."The long-cherished gurukulam system is no longer in vogue. It took more than eight years for me to understand the nuances of music. There is a sea change among young artistes today. Some of them have a long way to go to gain an in-depth knowledge of music," she feels. She is confident that Carnatic music percolate down to the common masses and touches a chord with them. "What is required is involvement and interest to learn music, which has a great and unending influence," she says. After all, any `kirtan' glorifies a god or goddess and an intent `sadhana' inspires not only the one who practices it, but also the listeners, she shares from her experience.Keen on propagating the art, Sudha Raghunathan is currently a part of consortium of international music groups. She is a globetrotter popularising the country's traditional music.

Social commitment

"We hold common programmes where I render Carnatic vocal recitals, while other musicians do theirs. My social commitment finds expression through `Samudhaya Foundation,' instrumental in raising funds for noble causes." "The Foundation's objective is to help children afflicted with cancer. Next to music, this is my goal," she reveals. She also plans to expand her wings to music therapy. "Music has a healing effect. Certain `ragas' can relieve you of stress and even cerebral problems. Music therapy has a permanent remedial effect on patients with different complaints. I am now seriously working on it," she parts unveiling her a sense of purpose.