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Budding voice

A tete-a-tete with upcoming singer Durga Viswanath.


DURGA VISWANATH is fast learning the tricks of time management. If there is one thing that this young, ambitious singer has been struggling hard to find is time to realise her musical dreams. Not surprising, for along with her studies, she is a first year BCA student at the Union Christian College, Aluva, Durga divides her time in learning Carnatic, Hindustani music, light music, kathakali sangeetam, bhajans, ashtapadi, and Tamil kirtans. Along with all this she is also learning to play the mridangam and the violin.

This involves a bit of travelling too. During weekends Durga travels all the way to Mattancherry, from her home at North Parur, for her music classes. "Two of my gurus, Thankamani Suresh, who teaches bhajans and noted Carnatic vocalist N. P. Ramaswamy Sir, are stationed at Mattancherry. Every Saturday evening it is bhajans and then I stay back with my teacher for my classes next day with Ramaswamy Sir. Yes, sometimes it becomes a bit hectic, but I'm really enjoying it," says Durga.

Early start

Like most singers Durga began learning Carnatic music when she was barely seven years old. Gradually she found herself drawn towards other forms of music, with the school youth festivals, spurring her on to dabble in these diverse forms. What makes it more interesting is that Durga has been able to make a mark in almost every form of music that she trained in. She has been a regular winner at the district and State level in classical, light, film songs, recitation, kathakali sangeetham and a State first in ashtapadi at the school youth festival in 2002. But winning the Chembai Award, instituted by the State government, for the most promising artiste in Carnatic music, this year, has made Durga think in terms of concentrating on a serious career in Carnatic music. "Surely, from now I'll be concentrating more on Carnatic and Hindustani classical music. Of course, that does not mean that I'm going to turn down offers to sing light music, film songs, and every chance to perform in all that I have been trained in," says Durga.

Hindustani music

In this short span Durga, who made her debut at the Sree Jayadurga Temple, Varapuzha, in 1997, has conducted over 250 Carnatic concerts. "I have now begun learning Hindustani classical under Mohan Kumar at the Avishkar Music School in Kochi. Maybe, because it is new and not being familiar with it, Hindustani appears a bit difficult to understand." Apart from these regular classes Durga spends hours listening to music, both classical and film songs.

Film songs

There is nothing like film songs for instant fame. And Durga became popular with her very first film song. The four songs in the film `Nandanavanam' helped her win the Telecritics Award. Though both the lyrics and music of these songs were just average, these songs revealed the potential of this young singer. Durga has also sung in the forthcoming film `Changathikootam,' popular album `Manjuthulliayi' and numerous other albums. She is also a regular participant in various television programmes like Swaramanjari, Saptaswarangal etc.

Apart from music Durga is interested in painting, as a hobby, with no plans to take it very seriously. If it is not training and performing, Durga spends a lot of time listening to music. "It is mainly Malayalam and Tamil film songs, and of course a lot of classical music."

Family support

Guiding her through this musical journey are her `gurus', giving her all the support and encouragement are her parents, her father M. D. Viswanathan, and her mother, Shylaja. "And then I have my little brother Dhananjay, who is my best critic. He has a lovely voice but cannot be forced to sing at all," Durga rounds off with that timid smile.

K.P.

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