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Strains of enthusiasm

Srikanth Devarajan's latest album, "Mahaakavi" lends a modern touch to Bharathiyar songs.

HE COMPOSED music for jingles and a few television serials when he lived in Chennai, he says. But at present, Srikanth Devarajan works in the U.S. as a software engineer, and his passion for music continues unabated, as can be understood from the enthusiasm with which he comes out with music albums at regular intervals. Soon after setting up his "dream studio", as he describes it, named 1234, came his albums, Simple Thoughts I &II, Folkal Point and Unison.

Music is a hobby for Srikanth as of now, and none of his earlier creations have been commercial ventures. For the first time, he has come out with an album of Bharathiyar songs, titled "Mahaakavi", which has been released by Kriya Kreations.

"I listen to all kinds of music, though I've been trained in Western classical," he says. So from our very own Carnatic music to Hindustani, Egyptian and Western, Srikanth's spare time is spent in listening to any music that comes his way and in working on his own compositions. "Mahaakavi is not mere cut and paste. I have tried something different... where Bharathiyar comes with a blend of the modern. Srinivas, the playback singer, who is a good friend too, encouraged me a lot and S.P. Balasubramaniam, who has sung one of the numbers had words of praise," says Srikanth. The music for the album was composed and recorded in his studio in the U.S., after which he came over here to record the voices — an impressive array of singers including SPB, Sujatha, Srinivas and Harish Raghavendra has sung for "Mahaakavi".

The CD thus evokes interest — you wish to know how modern Bharathiyar can get. Many great composers have set Bharathiyar's verses to music — with laudable results. So the expectation is understandably high.

But Mahaakavi is a let down in many aspects. The great poet's works that find accompaniment in a variety of sounds, from the trumpet and flute, to percussion of many a kind, still fail to connect with the listener.

Sujatha's impeccable voice is the saving grace of "Kakkai Chiraginalae ... " Those of us who have heard the same words turned into a haunting melody by composer K.V. Mahadevan and so soothingly sung by Sulamangalam Rajalakshmi or L. Vaidyanathan's composition of the same, would realise that Srikanth has a long way to go. But surely the composition has an appealing bucolic flavour to it. "Theeradha Vilayattu ... " sung by SPB evokes feelings of devotion and romance in the various scales adopted but lacks aural pleasure.

Srikanth says he worked for nearly six months on the "Mahaakavi" project. So the toil and zeal cannot be questioned...

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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