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Man with the GOLDEN voice

After singing and acting, Harish Raghavendra is now producing a Tamil pop album


ANYONE OUT there who was not moved by Nirpadhuve Nadappadhuve from the film Bharathi? All those familiar with Tamil film music will recognise the voice that lent beauty to this Bharathiar song. It belongs to Harish Raghavendra. In the city to take part in a cultural programme, this soft-spoken singer with a child-like visage shared his thoughts on music and playback singing.

"I didn't know that Nirpadhuve... was penned by Bharathiar. Ilayaraja asked me to read it over many times. I used to think Bharathiar wrote only revolutionary verses. Only after this did I realise that he had also written poems of a different genre."

Though Harish Raghavendra was born into a family of musicians, he never took to music seriously until in college. Thanks to his performance in inter-collegiate music contests, he got offers even before he completed his graduation (from Vivekananda College, Chennai)

"Nobody in my family thought I would become a playback singer," he avers. "It took three years for me to establish myself as a singer," he recalls. Harish believes that knowing the basics of Carnatic music helps a singer improvise.

Playback singing is not the same these days. From a handful of popular singers, the number has increased dramatically. Harish, too, is alive to this reality. "None of the present crop of singers can expect to achieve the feat of an SPB or K J Yesudas. During their heydays, only a few were into playback singing. Today, three singers croon a song," he quips.

And, tunes rule the waves. "Diction is not important. You can sing in any way you like," he tells you. Due to the changed scenario, he has set some clear goals for himself. "I practice regularly to ensure that my voice is in good shape. Breathing techniques also form part of my daily exercises," he says.

"Numbers don't matter. Even if I croon a few songs, it should be on the lips of everyone and linger in their minds for a long time," he states.

Harish also made his debut as an actor (playing a subtle anti-hero) in Vikadan. After that, he hasn't acted in any other movie. Ask him about this and Harish says: "Only if the storyline is different will I act in movies. I am basically a singer and will not give up this profession," he asserts.

With so many singers and music directors, why is it there are not many music albums in Tamil? "When you mention Indian pop in foreign countries, people associate it with Indi pop and Punjabi pop music. As a singer, I feel bad when I hear these remarks," he says.

So, he is doing his bit for Tamil pop. "In association with my friend and jazz guitarist Devan Egambaram, I am producing a Tamil pop album, titled Muthal Mazhaye. It will be a mix of Tamil music and jazz. I have penned the lyrics for it," he says.

"All you need is initiative and some sponsors. Tamil music cannot depend on movies forever. This way, you can reach out to the Tamilians overseas," he adds.

M. ALLIRAJAN

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