Musical memories kept alive by young talent online
A brave, original idea – Quarantine From Reality – launched on March 25, reprising forgotten gems of Tamil film music daily on YouTube and Facebook with virtual support of young singers and musicians from across the world is now entering its 200th episode on Thursday
What started off as a 'casual thought' the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a total lockdown is now a globally feted online music show, nearing 200 episodes. It is simultaneously hosted on popular digital platforms – YouTube, Facebook and mentioned on Instagram.
Appropriately titled 'Quarantine From Reality', this is a celebration of rare and forgotten gems of Tamil film music, put together by a nostalgia-obsessed Subashree Thanikachalam.
Keeping away from the celebrities and musical legends of Chennai film industry (with whom Subashree has been associated independently as a TV professional and an international event host of music programmes) the charged-up cineaste explored deep into the talent pool of young singers that she had nurtured during her music shows for various satellite TV channels. Overcoming the initial trouble of inadequate tech support as the studios were closed, she went along with, as she says ' my children, who were willing to answer my call and present a song' in an exclusive interaction with The Hans India over e-mail.
Sustaining it initially with her own resources, Subashree recreated olden, forgotten classics from the years 1950 to 1995. These were reprised by a variety of singers from across the globe (around 50 of them from India, USA, UK, Europe etc) for the first 104 episodes. 'The information that I gathered over the years is what added up to the spicy trivia that I shared every day during the programme' added Subashree.
Of course, after the first 21 episodes, the original schedule, going along with the tide the programme sustained on her resources till the 104th. 'Of course it was tough on us. Zero revenue and 100 percent work we were doing. But the way the fan base grew day by day, I decided I won't just drop it someday and move off'. Subashree confided.
By then, she had built up a steady viewership for her 12- minute shows (lovingly put together as a database by one of her admirers, P Jose who says she had 32000+ viewers per show for 195 episodes) and her musical group was swelling too, apart from her mainstay Shyam Benjamin and Venkat making them a permanent feature of her daily show.
Interestingly, since its launch over six months ago, it never missed an episode any day except on September 25 as a homage to the legendary S P Balasubrahmanyam when he breathed his last. Even that blip was rectified with a 24- minute video the next day titled 'To Sir With Love'.
So how did she manage to take it on till the 200th which is due on October 8? As Subashree informs: 'When I completed 100, I knew it can't be going on like this. We needed funds to pursue further, technical expenses, musicians payment were all worrisome. So the best decision was to make people who love the programme contribute'. Thus QFR became crowd funded show from episode 105. 'Every musician who is a part of QFR gets something. Really peanuts for the work, but at least, something. The technical expenses are still much at large, but we are compensating as much possible, as you see the video edit and audio is all professional' Subhashree adds.
With the programme now featured all across the online and offline media, QFR is now viewed as more of a 'social commitment' by its creator. So after the double century mark, she is toying with the idea of making it a bi-weekly programme. Above all, her OFR has been such a keenly watched one for which she is thankful to all 'her children' and musical team, apart from a dedicated support base which is her oxygen to sustain her passion.