Uncompromising love affair

Uncompromising love affair

For the music composer who literally nurtures every detail of his song with great love and dedication, it is truly 'Nindu Noorella Sawasam' with...

For the music composer who literally nurtures every detail of his song with great love and dedication, it is truly 'Nindu Noorella Sawasam' with music. His latest devotional album � Thrahimam � that has top Indian musicians like Viswa Mohan Bhatt and violinist Deepak Pandit play for it, has gained international fame Swapna We have seen musicians, music lovers and serious music composers. For most it is a hobby or a profession. But it is rare that we come across a musician who obsesses over each note, each nuance and even the volume of the singer's voice while recording. Not just this, there is more. His single track in life has been music. An ace flautist in India, well-known world-wide, Pranam Kamalakar is also adept at playing many rare instruments. He also dabbles in singing when he has more to say. Remember the song "Nindu noorella saawasam"- from the movie Pranam? This song made him so famous that the name of the movie became his first name. After dabbling with a few film opportunities in Telugu, Kamal found his destiny elsewhere when life moved him to Chennai. His recent musical treat- Thrahimam-a devotional album has enthralled listeners across the globe. One may not imagine maestro Viswamohan Bhatt or violin genius Deepak Pandit to play in an album of this genre. Nor can one think of ragas like Desh and Yaman to carry a song that has been sung for over a 100 years in a much simpler tune. But Kamlakar even has the audacity to introduce a qawwali-like tune for a church choir- all for his thirst for creativity. The result: songs that please the ears and uplift the soul.
What do you do these days?
I am as busy as anyone can be - lending my talent in flute for various projects and composing the rest of the time. Sometimes, my day goes on till 2 am in the studio and I relish every bit of it. Apart from all this of course I am basking in the glory of "Thrahimam". 'Thrahimam' is indeed a musical treat. How did you think of making regular devotional songs so musical?
loveTo me a song is a song. Whether I compose an Annamacharya kriti or a Christian devotional, it ultimately has to please the listener. 'Impact Zone India' was in touch with me for a few months before I agreed to take up the album. I did not want to finish off a project fast and be ready for yet another release that makes no difference. I wanted to put in my music, heart, soul and more, even if it meant a bigger scale of production. These are regular devotionals that are being sung in churches for over 150 years. Now I had the challenge of making them look fresh and appealing to this generation too. I changed certain traditional compositions to sound aesthetic while keeping the essence of the devotion alive.
You gathered artists from around India for 'Thrahimam'. It must have been a challenge?
It took me a lot of effort to even reach them. Some of them are legendary musicians. Viswamohan Bhatt ji who played for my album is a great musician. Deepak Pandit was a regular player for the great Jagjit Singh. Because of my having worked with the late Pandit Ravi Shankar, I could convince them to play for me. For singers I initially thought I would use the available voices in Hyderabad. But my compositions demanded a rich voice culture and hence I went looking out for unique voices and found Richa sharma, Anvesha Datta and Swetha Mohan. Although they are all non-Telugu, with some effort I could make them sound as close to native as possible. People say you are uncompromising. Did that hold back your career a bit? Even if it did, I don't mind. At the end of the day, I should feel that I have given my best and got the best from my artists too. A few people call me blunt and arrogant. But I am what I am. The same people also appreciate my final product. The others don't matter. It is easy for me to pick up tunes from here and there to please a producer like many do. I would probably have a successful exterior but will feel defeated within. So what is the point? Today it is sad that we are losing "real" music. We all make a big deal that singers in Telugu are not encouraged and that Mumbai and Chennai singers take away opportunities. But tell me honestly- how many singers here have really put in effort to practice and learn? In other languages, the standards are so high that only the really good ones last to make an impact.
What according to you is good music?
Any song that creates an impact - be it fast or slow. Take the song from the film Bobbili Raja for example: 'Chemma chekka'. It is a mass tune but breaks into a beautiful sequence of melody. That to me is a good song among several other lakhs of course. Why did you move to Chennai? I feel real music happens in Chennai. Unfortunately Hyderabad lacks the dais and atmosphere for music to flourish.
Your journey was not exactly musical. Do you remember painful moments? I remember practicing for 18 hours a day to excel. I remember staying out, facing severe hardships financially with no opportunities. I remember having to wait for hours to get a meeting with film directors who did not know how to relish music. But today I feel that they were all needed to make me who I am. When I look at cinema music today, I don't feel I am missing composing for films. It is far more fulfilling to explore other genres.
Now that you have moved to devotional, is it a spiritual or musical journey for you?
Music itself is spiritual for me. I will continue with other genres if I am given the freedom to compose as I like. Who are your inspirations? It may sound a cliché', but I have been inspired by many; From S Rajeswara Rao garu to Ilayaraja Sir. I worked with several musicians from Raj-Koti, AR Rahman, Keeravani, Harris Jeyraj, Sharath and many more. At the end of the day � I am my biggest friend and enemy. I have sometimes been so hard on myself for not doing better than what I have. At other times I cherish my imagination and ability to break barriers to give more soulful music.
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