Scaling greater heights
Chinmayi scripts her own success story through sheer hard work, says S. AISHWARYA
Photo: R. Ashok
flamboyant Be it Tamil or Hindi, she is versatile to the core
Classical music — from Carnatic to Hindustani — has a long and proud history of producing celebrated film singers. Chinmayi, who dabbles in both, carries on the tradition.
But the knowledge has not restricted her repertoire of songs. Sticking to single musical style, according to her, is like singing the same song time and again.
If her voice sounded as caressing as breeze in ‘Sahana’ from ‘Sivaji,’ it impressed Hindustani buffs through its soothing flutter in ‘Tere Bina’ from ‘Guru.’
“I never wanted my voice labelled with a particular genre. A change in genre needs learning the nuances of music a bit more and that’s what I look forward to,” she says.
Her debut ‘Deivam thantha poove’ from ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’ put her under instant spotlight by fetching a national award. Through her songs ‘Santhipoma’ from ‘Enakku 20 Unakku 18,’ ‘Enaduriye’ from Bheema and ‘Sahana’ from ‘Sivaji,’ she laid a career the way she dreamt.
Originally, Chinmayi was set out to be a Hindustani singer. AIR’s hunt for prospective Hindustani singer saw her inside the studios straightaway. Belting out Kashmiri songs in Kashmir, she spellbound the audience with her immaculate pronunciation and diction. “In fact people refused to believe I was a South Indian. They thought I had some Kashmiri connection,” she laughs.
The ability to pick up accents made her entry into Bollywood film industry effortless. “I have sort of a sponge quality in me. When I speak to someone, I can imitate their diction in a jiffy. Sometimes it’s annoying but that has helped me pick up accents with perfection.”
More than just a singer in film music, Chinmayi is gifted with learning languages, anchors musical shows in television and runs a outsourcing company called ‘Blue Elephant’ with a full control over her career. The company does translation services from English to German. “I’ve been freelancing German translations for while. Once I was given 200 pages of a document with a tight deadline. When I completed, I felt this was what my career should be. I like being stressed.”
With exceedingly good language quotient, she’s picked up seven languages including Spanish, German, Dutch, French and Norwegian.
Enthusiasm runs high for Chinmayi at the mention of A. R. Rahman. “He celebrates all manner of music making. He has experimented with my voice through good many genres.” Among Rahman’s few favourites who are lucky enough to get repeated chances, Chinmayi is the one. But the songs, as one has heard, are never similar. “Tere Bina is the best ever so far. For a casual listener, it sounds across the border but yet, it’s so Indianish.”
Working with Rahman has been emotionally overwhelming experience to her. “We worked for long hours during ‘Sahana.’ Every time I close my eyes to listen to him playing the keyboard, my face is wet with tears. Any one who respects music will be swept by such soulful ambience.”
For all her fondness for A.R. Rahman, Chinmayi also seems to adore other music directors she has worked with. “After ‘Kannathil Muthamittal,’ people began labelling me as a singer suited for sombre songs. Music Director Iman helped me tear away the tag through ‘Kadhal Kirukka’ in ‘Visil.’ Some of my best songs came only later.”
Acclamations did not immediately fall her way for her note-perfect recording of Sivaji’s ‘Sahana.’ Credit, initially, was given to voice-enhancement software. “I felt so hurt. But later I learnt to laugh it out. Help from technology is only to make recording easy and not for voice corrections.”
Of all songs, is there any particular song that she found very difficult? “Not yet. Songs cannot be an effort. It must come naturally. If I find myself straining long and hard to sing a song, it wouldn’t sound easy on your ears.”
Ever so quietly, Chinmayi breaks all musical myths associated with voice. “Singing is hard work. There are hardly any gifted singers. Classical music might not be mandatory to start a career but learning it always helps. It’s a tool to help you. If you are unwilling, you are just too lazy to learn.”
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