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Making waves in Tamil filmdom

Sujatha's duet in "Baba" is already proving to be a big draw. The playback singer talks of her career and some of the Tamil hits rendered by her.

LAST WEEK the most awaited audio of "Baba" was released without much fanfare. One of the songs that linger on everybody's lips is the "Maya..Maya.Ellam Maya." duet by Sujatha and Karthik. Sujatha invests a certain amount of vigour to this conventional number that sparkles with depth. Sujatha has never sounded better than she does off late, as she has sung some of the recent chartbusters in Tamil, like "Vanden Vanden." From "Panchatanthiram", "Enne.. Thalattum..Sangeetham" from "Unnai Ninaithen" and the "Sakalakala Vallavane" from "PKS". The ever-smiling Sujatha with her simple and charming ways and down-to-earth behaviour is one of the leading female playback singers down South. Excerpts from an interview with the singer:

The "Baba" song "Maya Maya.. Ellam Maya" is proving to be a chartbuster.

(Smiles) I am happy that it is appreciated as even while the song was recorded I had a feeling that it would click. Rahman had sent the tunes over the Internet sitting in London and all instructions were given from there.

So this is the song that was sent through the Internet?

Yes. Karthik and myself were sitting in Mr Rahman's studio in Chennai going through Vaali sir's lyrics. Rahman sent us the tune over the Internet and we recorded it. Immediately he made the corrections and returned it back to us. After the corrections were incorporated, Rahman cleared it and by the time it was 3.30 in the morning! I am amazed by the power of the net and the way Rahman composed it. I think Rahman was very impressed, and later he asked me to sing the Telugu version of the song also.

You have been making waves in Tamil, singing all the hit numbers. Please comment:

(Shrieks) Oh no, there are other talented singers also. I am grateful to all the composers who had put faith in me and by Gods grace most of them have been appreciated. Even in Telugu and Malayalam I have been singing.

Tell us something about your musical background?

I hail from a family that is deeply interested in music. I started singing at the age of seven with the legend Yesudas and after completing almost 2000 stage shows as `Baby Sujatha', I ventured into playback singing for a Malayalam film at the age of 12. I lost my father at the age of two and my mother could not accompany me to Chennai where most of the recordings took place. So I lost out on a lot of opportunities. After getting married to Dr.Krishna Mohan, I took a sabbatical from singing in films. But during the break I learned Hindustani music and, it was the noted director Priyadarshan who brought me back into playback singing with "Chitram", the all time musical super hit of Mohan Lal.

How did you enter into Tamil film music?

It was AR.Rahman, who gave me the big break in Tamil with the song "PuthuVellai Mazhai" in "Roja" which got noticed and then there was that haunting "Nettru Illatha Matram" from "Pudiya Mugam". The seven wonders song "Athisayam" from "Jeans" and the bubbly number "Poo Pookkum Osai" from "Minsara Kanavu" established me as a singer in Tamil.

So you attribute your success to A.R.Rahman?

I must admit that I owe a lot to him. He is the main reason for whatever I have achieved so far, and I will be forever grateful to him. But I have to be thankful to all the music directors who gave me work like Ilayaraja,Vidyasagar, S.A.Rajkumar, Deva, Bharadwaj and others. I have sung a lot of hit numbers under them.

Do you agree that melody is losing out in film music?

I don't think so. In every film there will be a melody number, but the sad part is that only fast and peppy numbers get highlighted and shown on satellite channels, which play a great role in popularising songs. Even in phone-in programmes on channels, 90 per cent of the viewer's request is for fast numbers. So ultimately it is the public that decide the music of today. Why blame music directors and lyric writers?

Heard that you have done a voice modulation for a song in "Run".

I have rendered the "Kadhal Pisase..." duet in a different voice along with Udit Narayan in the film "Run". All the credit should go to the music director Vidyasagar who wanted me to change my style of singing and voice tone. The song is a fast number, which is already on top of the charts.

All of a sudden singers including you are jumping on to stage shows. Why?


Yesudas and Sujatha

I agree that stage shows have become very popular especially abroad. It has become lucrative for the singers to perform in live concerts. But for a singer, if you want to be called for these shows, your recent hit numbers counts a lot.

Are you planning to cut your own album in the near future?

When I have enough time from my busy schedule, I will certainly cut my own album. But now my commitments in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam are keeping me very busy.

Who has been your inspiration?

I owe whatever I have achieved till now to my mother who has been my pillar of strength. My husband who is a doctor too has been very encouraging and supportive. He also shares my devotion to music and accompanies me for programmes.

SREEDHAR PILLAI

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