A remarkable journey

A remarkable journey

Kesiraju Srinivas known as Ghazal Srinivas is the maestro of Telugu ghazal singing. He became famous after his debut performance in the USA in 1992....

Kesiraju Srinivas known as Ghazal Srinivas is the maestro of Telugu ghazal singing. He became famous after his debut performance in the USA in 1992. His style of ghazal singing is unique as he performs with only one accompaniment i.e. kanjeera (tambourine). Srinivas also dabbled in acting. He worked in the Telugu films like ‘Vichitram’ and ‘A Film by Aravind’.

Dr Ghazal Srinivas shared his 42 years journey in singing songs and ghazals.

He was born and brought up in Tekkali village, Srikakulam district. He did Bachelors of Library and Information Sciences from the University of Madras in 1989. “I did my debut stage performance in Bhimavaram with a bhajan and a mono action of Duryodhana in 1972. Since my childhood, I was interested in music and used to sing Telugu film songs in various private functions.

Despite my passion for music, my parents didn't allow me to learn or pursue music as a career. In 1980, after winning the prestigious ‘Tyagaraja Gana Sabha Light Classical Music Award’, my parents realised my talent and sent me to Pandit Hare Ram to learn Carnatic music.”

Besides his singing, he used to take part in drama competitions and acted in more than 40 Telugu plays. Speaking about how he entered into singing ghazals, he shared, “After my graduation, I worked as a music assistant in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan International Residential Public School.

One day, when I was in the library, and I found a book ‘Rekkalu’ written by Late C Narayana Reddy. The poetry in that book had touched my heart. It was then, I decided to sing only ghazals and learned the format. I started singing Telugu ghazals by developing a unique style of performing them with ‘Kanjeera’ as my sole accompaniment in many music concerts, and the audience liked it.”

Sharing his relationship with Indian poet Late C Narayana Reddy, he said, “When I was performing in Visakhapatnam in 1993, C Narayana Reddy watched my show and announced me as his “Ghazal Manasa Putrudu”. Later, Reddy sir penned many ghazals to suit my singing style. After one of my concert at Vizianagaram, renowned journalist and writer AB Subba Rao changed my name to ‘Ghazal Srinivas’ and since then people started calling me by that name.”

Srinivas attracts the audience with his theatrical skills and methods of ‘Harikatha’ and ‘Burrakatha’ narration techniques. His attire, pleasant facial expressions always keeps the audience in good enjoyable mood during his concerts. He visited many countries and performed his ghazal concerts. Till now he has given more than 7,000 ghazal concerts across the world.

In 2005, he took part in 1538 km Indo-Pakistan peace march from Delhi to Multan, led by Dr Sandeep Pandey. During the programme, Srinivas performed his ghazal concerts in schools, colleges, and universities. He promoted communal harmony, national integration and international brotherhood. He composed an audio album ‘Shanthi Yatra’ during that tour.

In 2005, Dr Srinivas founded ‘Ghazal Charitable Trust’ to promote the art form of Telugu Ghazal and world peace. “We launched a website for Telugu ghazal, Through this, we are conducting symposiums and training camps for ghazal poets and upcoming singers. We are also sponsoring the publications of Telugu ghazals, which were penned by different poets,” he shared.

Ghazal Srinivas created three Guinness World Records consecutively in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He achieved the records in ‘Singing most languages in a live concert’, ‘Recording a song in 125 global languages in 125 different versions’ and ‘Singing in 55 concerts within 24 hours’.

In 2009, he visited the war-torn country, Afghanistan on a peace mission to promote Gandhian philosophy and non-violence. He released an audio album ‘Doosti-Sol’ dedicated for Indo-Afghan peace and friendship. He was also bestowed with the ‘Afghanistan Olympic Peace Medal’ by Olympic Association for his services in Afghanistan.

As part of community service, he took the initiative to perform his ghazals in all Central and District Prisons of Andhra Pradesh to reform the prisoners. He introduced ‘Certificate Course on Satyagraha Philosophy’ from Gandhian Study Centre, to the prisoners.

Through this course, many prisoners were released on mercy petitions. He also developed his singing abilities in Hindi and Urdu languages by taking lessons in the respective languages. He launched his first Urdu Ghazal album ‘Rubaru’ in May 2013. Among his many activities, he is currently the Honorary Brand Ambassador for ‘Save Temples Mission’ organised by and Global Hindu Heritage Foundation.

“I’m planning to build a ghazal museum in Bheemavaram in near future. I am also trying to create my fourth Guinness World Record by 2018,” Ghazal Srinivas, who is brimming with ideas, shared.

By: V Sateesh Reddy

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