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Dream calling

A Physics lecturer, Suresh Kumar makes time to hone his skills as a flautist.


YOU SEE him practically every day on various television channels in programmes like Gananjali, Sangeethasagaram, Gandharvasandhya, Asianet Music Live, Adyamayi and in musical stage shows.

What sets flautist G. Suresh Kumar apart is the fact he is not a full-time musician. A Physics lecturer in a Government college, he has been juggling the teaching profession and flute-playing for over fifteen years.

For 20 years, he has been playing the flute in film and cassette recordings in Thiruvananthapuram and other centres and playing in stage shows for all the top singers in the land. He has toured the Middle East with music troupes; he recently completed a month-long tour of the U.S. as part of Jayachandran's troupe.

How does he manage this? Suresh Kumar smiles. "I work at the University College, Thiruvananthapuram. There have been several days when I handled classes in the morning and played for recordings in the afternoon and vice versa. The stage shows in Thiruvananthapuram are convenient as they are in the evenings. Occasionally, I take leave to play in recordings and stage shows outside the city. However, this has never affected my teaching. The students, my colleagues and my superiors have all been happy with me," he says.

Suresh Kumar grew up in Kundara where his father was working with the Aluminium Industries. Living in the Company quarters helped him develop his talents.

"I used to sing from a young age and began playing the bulbul when I was seven. Later, I moved over to the harmonium and subsequently to the keyboard with some guidance from the ace keyboard player, Keralapuram Vijayan, who has been a great source of encouragement for me. I used to play the harmonium for a church choir in Kundara," he says.

Suresh Kumar lost his father when he was 13, but the family continued to stay in Kundara. He had his college education in Kollam. Only after reaching college he picked up the flute. "My brother had a hobby of making flutes. I picked up some of these flutes and trained myself by trial and error," Suresh Kumar recollects.

Keralapuram Vijayan got him to play the keyboard and later the flute in the stage programmes of Edava Basheer, a popular singer who have sung for films too.

All through this, Suresh Kumar's studies never suffered. He post-graduated in Physics with a college-topping First Class. He worked in Keltron for a while before passing the PSC test and securing appointment as a lecturer in the Government service.

His first posting was in Kasaragod. Though he missed recordings and programmes he used this period to listen to a lot of film music and Carnatic, Hindustani and Western music. "And I learnt about `ragas' and `kirthanas'," he adds.

In the early nineties, he got a transfer to Thiruvananthapuram. "Thereafter, I have been regularly playing for recordings and stage shows, without these affecting my college work in any way," Suresh Kumar says. Life naturally must be hectic when you juggle two professions.

"It is hectic," Suresh Kumar admits. "But I enjoy it. The two professions are totally different Music is a great relaxation. Often I rush from the college to a studio, but I change my mental make-up quickly. In the studio, I am one among the other musicians," he says.

One unique thing about Suresh Kumar is the fact that he has had no formal training in music and he has learnt how to play all instruments on his

own. "I have learnt mainly by observing seniors. Being a self-taught flautist, my playing style is different from that of others. I play with the tip of my finger. It may be unorthodox, but I am comfortable with this style," says Suresh Kumar, who is a fan of legendary flautists Mali and HariprasadChaurasya.

Recently, at the Kamukara Award nite in Thiruvananthapuram he was thrilled when the veteran composer, M. S. Viswanathan, who was on the stage lauded his playing.

"All music comes from inside you. More than the physical aspect, there is something spiritual about it. You have to be blessed to be a musician," says the Physics lecturer who is a member of the Nadabrahma troupe in Thiruvananthapuram.

The writer, Richard Bach, must have meant persons like Suresh Kumar when he wrote the lines -- "you are never given a desire without also being given the power to achieve it".

PRAKASH PARAYATH

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