Spreading happiness through music
The heartfelt blessings that listeners shower on me after a live concert are truly what I cherish the most. The connection with the audience through a...
“The heartfelt blessings that listeners shower on me after a live concert are truly what I cherish the most. The connection with the audience through a composition that is uplifting both in terms of the raga and the Sahitya (lyric) is a truly beautiful emotion and something words cannot express,” says Nitya Santhoshini, the singer, whose mellifluous voice has earned her a special place in the musical firmament occupied by many musical greats. Trained in Carnatic music, the versatile singer has forayed into light music and playback singing as well, having sung in over 150 films but is best known as a singer of devotional music. She has rendered a vast range of devotional songs including Christian hymns and her chanting of the “Gayatri Mantra”, the “Lalita Sahasranama”, “Khadgamala” and verses in praise of gods and goddesses have received much appreciation.
Watching her sing her favourite Annamacharya Kriti “Bhavayami Gopala Baalam” her eyes closed, her voice bringing out various nuances of devotional fervour, one can easily see why she is referred to as “Adhyatmika Gayani” (spiritual singer). The tone and tenor of her work, is soaked in emotion. She may be singing to herself, lost in the journey of the raga and what it conveys, quite oblivious to any outside presence. Point this out to her and she laughs. “I try to get the feel of any song that I sing. I never planned my career. All the songs that have come to me have chosen me. It is true though that devotional music gives me a lot of satisfaction. Whatever has happened to me has been a part of God’s plan.”
As the daughter of eminent singer and All India Radio artiste Ramalakshmi Rangachari, Nitya Santhoshini the youngest of four children literally grew up listening to music. While her eldest sister is the principal of the Government Music College, Koti, Hyderabad, both her brothers are into instrumental music. After initial training from her mother, she became a disciple of gurus Tambella Satyanarayana and Akella Mallikarjuna Sarma and soon blossomed into an artiste with a distinct voice and style of rendition.
Participating in competitions and a reality show called “Alapana” resulted in opportunities coming her way including her first film “Neelimeghaalu” in which she crooned a melodious birthday song. Particular about lyrics, she remains one of the rare breeds of artistes, who has refused to sing a song which had words that she was uncomfortable with. Wasn’t that losing out on an opportunity, in today’s extremely competitive world? The soft spoken singer is unperturbed about losing out to completion. “I would rather not sing what I am uncomfortable listening to,” she says without a trace of regret.
Another interesting insight one gains, is her great interest in live recordings that made several old numbers remarkable and evergreen and is almost extinct in the present scenario. “The magic and charm of interacting with the co-singer and orchestra is what defined playback singing in the past and resulted in lasting melodies. The system of tracks is not only impersonal but also mutilates the song broken into pieces and lines. I hope to be part of live recordings that I have heard so much about,” she confesses.
A great fan of MS Subbalakshmi, a visit to her residence along with her mother and maternal uncle remains one of her most cherished memories. “I sang a Meera bhajan sung by her and she was very happy listening to me. I have a paper in which she made certain corrections to the lyrics and I still treasure it,” she says.
As for role models, she feels that there is something to learn from all the great singers from both the Carnatic field as well as those in the playback industry. She would like to imbibe the great qualities from each of these artistes and enrich her repertoire of music. She recalls how listening to the song “Priye Charusheele” a Jayadeva Ashtapadi sung by KJ Yesudas had moved her to tears. Music, she feels has the power to reach out and unleash inexplicable emotions.
Balancing her singing and teaching career with parenting her 11- year-old daughter Nityakalyani, who is also learning music from her grandmother, Nitya Santhoshini says music is a stress buster like no other. Listening to music especially instrumental music gives her equanimity and instant energy. “It is a therapy, a refuge, an antidote to all of the life’s problems,” she adds.
Music is what she grew up with and music is what grows with her. Humble about her many achievements and awards including the coveted Nandi Award, Nitya Santhoshini, as her name suggests, would like to spread happiness and cheer through her singing. Music evokes the inner joy in her and she radiates it through the emotional connection she establishes with her listeners.