As an avid reader and a lover of Tamizh literature, a few years ago, I was reading up about Tamil Poets and in that phase, I stumbled upon the autobiography of the poet Namakkal Kavignar Ramalingam Pillai’s “En kathai”. Thoroughly enjoyed it. There were so many moving incidents narrated, which included a meeting with Subramania Bharati. As an artist, building a repertoire is a very important aspect of performance for me. Being the lover of the Tamizh language, I like to find gems in Tamizh literature to compose and present for my audience. This specific poem, “Tamizhan endroru inamundu” struck a chord and I thought it could make for a nice Pallavi line. I set it to Khamas and sang it in my Tamizhum Naanum concert in Dec 2019 in Chennai. (The concert is available here for listening – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_n70YPEnpLDDHFgXSS-uj_VIn8TZ7pk6qQ)

I recently reconnected with the brilliant and talented Bhargavii Mani. She is a photographer, designer, brand consultant and many other things, besides having a strong Carnatic music pedigree. We hit it off immediately as we discussed a new way to visualize and showcase my music in the digital space. This music video is the first of a series of collaborations that we intend to produce and share in the coming days.


There are several firsts to this music video.
First time that I am singing with just the tambura as an accompaniment. First time that I have tried to use the innate rhythm and cadence of a poem to bring out a fluid musicality sticking close to the integrity of the genre. First time, I am rendering a song that is not in taalam, in the conventional sense. First time that I have not strictly adhered to the original poem. I have taken some liberties with a few additions and changes to the lyrics. First time I chose to explore my music visually also.
Apart from the above, the form and content will be very close to what I normally sing. It is a song that I definitely intend singing in my concerts.

Bhargavii Mani has completely visualized, scripted and shot this video. She is a powerhouse of ideas and works very hard to get the result she needs. She pushed me to stand in front of the camera for two complete days making me do things I have’t done since the early nineties. It was great fun working with Bhargavii and her team at Edge Design House to bring this out in a very short time frame of just 2 weeks.

An important member of Bhargavii Mani’s team is the quiet, unassuming veteran expert of logo design and typography, Sambandan Kothandaraman (Kota). I was amazed to see this guy work and churn out ideas and designs in minutes as we threw up otions before him. It is Kota who worked tirelessly to create my visual identity for this music video. His encyclopaedic knowledge and the variety of musical interests is invaluable to our creative process.

Among the many wonderful people I met and engaged with during the pandemic is sound engineer, MT Aditya Srinivasan. He is a brilliant young professional and has a fantastic work ethic. He has been working with me in producing content for my YouTube channel, including all the episodes of Sanjay Sabha. He is so enthusiastic and always buzzing with creative ideas.
It’s been wonderful to just meet, discuss and talk with younger minds who are incredibly creative, willing to put the extra yards and take so much care for getting everything right. Working on this project has made feel a good 15 years younger!

The last year was tough because of the pandemic. I realise how much I owe to my listeners and how much they have contributed to my being able to practice this as a my single source of livelihood.  I found a lovely opportunity in 2020 to engage with this community of my listeners online by uploading a  number of archival concert videos on to my YouTube channel.

Bhargavii Mani and her team have done a tremendous job in putting together this wonderful package. I am looking forward to us talking discussing, fighting and getting ready for more such efforts in the near future.

PS: For those asking why the #TamilCinema – I want to say that the poem was the title song in the Tamizh film Malaikkallan (1954)


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