Friday, December 17, 2010

Keeping my pledge for the Kannamma Project

Has been possible thanks to contributions on 16th and 17th December from

Kranthi Kasibhatla 
Shivakumar Narayanan 
Kavitha C
A.S.Arul Susidhar 
Balaganeshkumar P
Subha M
  Deepak Chander
  Kamakshi
  Vinod Prabhu
  Rajan B
  Ravi K Terala
  Subash Thyagarajan
  Adhvika G 
  RK Thanjavur
  Pramod V
J
Dhanasekaran
Narayanan Ravi Chandran 
  Chinmayi Vinayakam
  Karthik Veluchamy
B S Raji 
Sivaramakrishnan Sankaran
Divya Kumar
  Kalyanasundaram
      Vamsi Krishna        
Naveen Varadarajan
Mugil Arunan
Kothai
M Ganesan
Sankaranarayanan Natarajan
Saravanakumar Gopiraj
Nadhinee
Nathan Subramani
Aarthi Subramani
Vijay Chidambaram
Senthilkumar Murugesan
Avinash
Sudarshan Prabu
Manoj MC
Narendra A
C Ganesan
Sundar Andaperumal
Sreekrishnan
Santa Claus
Yogitharani
Muthu
Ajay Vejendla
Guru Prasath
Dhanasekaran
Rajhee Muthukumar
Vijaya Kumar Babu
ITIndia.com
Raj

                            

When I actually signed up for this, I had no clue how this would work, whether I would be able to achieve this through social media and get the word out about NalandaWay and the Kannamma Project. Was a little nervous about keeping the pledge. 
Hardly thought it would be done in 5 days starting from the 13th to before the end of 17th December. I had not asked anyone for funds to support any organization before. Whenever they came to I performed free and helped raise funds and made personal donations whenever possible. There was a standing joke in the community around that C for Charity is also C for Chinmayi. After a point I was giving only charity concerts and kinda also forgot that sometimes charity needs to also begin at home. Jokes apart, the response to the Kannamma project through Twitter, Facebook and also this blog has been heartwarming. 
Once again Thank you to the contributors mentioned in this post and to those in the post below. You all have brightened the lives of so some beautiful girls out there and I wish that every time they smile, the warmth and happiness reaches your heart too. Every time they laugh may the joy find a resonance in your being. And every time their eyes light up, may you have brightness in your vision, literally or figuratively, as you may need it. May your dreams find fulfillment as the dreams of these children which are on their way to it. 
God Bless and I ll tell Santa to pay you guys a visit this Christmas :p

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Kannamma Project of NalandaWay

An American man was telling me a couple of days ago that India is a rich country and there is ability for Indians to pay for a service or make a donation. But the willingness is missing. 

Since the time I blogged about the Kannamma Project or rather, the time I have been tweeting about it, close to 25,000/- INR has been donated to the project in less than 2 days.

Here is my personal Thank you to 

Vijay Krishnan
Arun Vaidyanathan
K Narendra
Ganesh Prabu
Baskar
Venkatramaiah
Bhargavi
Eric Ambroise
Karthikeyan R
Barani Thilak
Veena Vijayan
Hariharan Sambath
Yegna
Yashwant Vijayakumar
Ram 
Ramanan RS
Dinesh Thiagarajan

More on 15/December

Kathiresan Uncle

Rajalakshmi Muthukumarasamy
Maha Durairaj and Family
My Anonymous friend
Shankar Ram Venkatasubramaniam
Brice Robinson
Shreyas
Vijay
Akil
Kalaivanan Kumaran

Though officially I am called the champion of the Kannamma Project to raise the funds for them in addition to the others, you, the ones who have donated are the real champions and the real heroes. 
Thank you for reading my tweet/blog, considering it and going the distance to donate the funds. 
Much much appreciated.

God Bless

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Raising funds for NalandaWay's Kannamma Project

Sriram Iyer of Nalanda Way wrote to me asking me to be one of the champions of the Kannamma Project and I was supposed to give him a video too which I could not get myself to do as schedules were tight.  I had heard about him and his work and he had touched base with me on Facebook a few times in the past. Supporting the cause of the marginalized girl child is special to me and since theirs is an art-based rehabilitation program, its special twice over.


"Marginalised girl children who are housed in residential care centres include orphans, juvenile delinquents, children rescued from bonded labour, sex work, conflict areas, refugees, children affected by HIV/ AIDS etc. These children are emotionally disturbed, have been physically abused, are prone to violent behaviour and may have been involved in crimes. They often fare poorly in school, yell or physically fight to handle social conflicts and are highly likely to engage in risky behaviours such as substance use, or unprotected sex. NalandaWay’s arts-based rehabilitation programme has helped such children overcome depression and disruptive behaviour and make successful transitions into the society.

The funds raised from this campaign will be utilized for an arts-based rehabilitation programme for marginalised girl children between the ages 12 and 20, in Government Homes in Tamil Nadu. These children would include orphans, destitute, street kids and other girl children from similar situations. This programme includes, arts training, lifeskills development, academic support, vocational training and livelihoods assistance"


This was also something Blue Elephant could be associated with as a part of our own Corporate Social Responsibility and this is a definite start for a lot more to come and to give back to the society and make it a better place than I found it. With foundations like NalandaWay it makes things a little easier.  

If you would like to donate and support their cause, kindly click here

Though my pledge is to raise at least 1,00,000/- INR, I would happier if I could raise more for them.


 

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The new Toyota Etios AD

And I have been waiting like an excited kid just about to open a present. I sang this ad a couple of weeks ago and to finally sing the Toyota Etios tag line was quite an experience. I was kinda happy that I have also been able to sing an ad for Rahman sir. Something only the cream of singers have been able to do. The luckiest musicians IMO.  Javed Ali and Madhushree have also sung in the track of 4:41 minutes. 

This is the link to ad featuring Rahman sir 

And the link to the song. 

The new Toyota Etios AD

And I have been waiting like an excited kid just about to open a present. I sang this ad a couple of weeks ago and to finally sing the Toyota Etios tag line was quite an experience. I was kinda smiling to myself that I have also been able to sing an ad for Rahman sir. Something only the cream of singers have been able to do. The luckiest musicians IMO.  Javed Ali and Madhushree have also sung in the track of 4:41 minutes. 

This is the link to ad featuring Rahman sir 

And the link to the song. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Blue Elephant receives an Award

of Excellence from the SAARC Chamber for Women Entrepreneurship. The ceremony was this evening and it was a completely different experience for me meeting women from the SAARC nations and other awardees this evening, all wonderful ladies, 12 of them from India, Maldives, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Also heard that a lot more people in Pakistan had watched me in Chote Ustaad and also said they missed me in the show. Something I also got to learn from Ms Tina Sahni when I went to Hyderabad to perform for the Hindu November Fest. Somehow, Pakistan does not understand the fabled North-South divide :D 

Nonetheless, receiving the award from the President of SAARC Chamber, Mr Huq, Consul General of the US Embassy Mr Simkin, Ms Indira Dutt of KPC, Ms Vinita Singhania of J K Lakshmi Cements was special. And for the first time, my mom told me she was proud of me.This was not an award that I ever thought I will get.

I started Blue Elephant on an over-fortnight decision thanks to a friend who told us to start the company watching what I was already doing as an individual. Blue Elephant, from then on, has grown, slowly and steadily. Clients have come in through references from one MNC to another. And they have stayed with us in all these years. I guess somewhere we have made the cut and have given our clients what they wanted.

We begin our training division very soon and are also in the process of tying up certain loose ends which did happen. The Blue Elephant has also not had a very easy journey. But thankfully God has been great and has helped us identify the right people and the wrong people at the right time. 
My thanks go out to every one of the linguists (in Spain, USA, Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Hungary, Turkey, Kuwait, Maldives, Burma, Finland, Iceland, France, Germany, Italy , Latvia, Lithuania, Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, the Czech Republic, Russia,  Greece, Egypt, South Africa and the United Kingdom) that I have worked with and their excellent work. If not for them the company would not have come this far. My company is what it is because of them, their talent, sincerity and work ethics.
My thanks also go to my clients who have been with me, have stood by me and have also helped me in removing a weed or two, when they did crop up. 

To Mrs Padmhasini, Partner, Blue Elephant and my mother for all the support and taking care of the operations.

My thanks to Amudhan of WOC , Abhishek Shah and Sandeep Makam of BePositive24 who gave my company its name and the logo. Also thanks to Amudhan for telling me why I should go with this name. That I love the elephant is a totally different thing altogether.

To BePositive24 for being a constant support through the journey.

To all the well-wishers for your good wishes and sending me the positive energy that drowns out the negativity that I sometimes have to face. 
Thank you.

And to you I wish that you have several moments of happiness, success and support that you need and may it come to you from every direction so that you may realize the dreams. May you also make new dreams and also achieve successes in areas where you least expected. May you be happy and may your cup of joy overflow.


Concerts and experiences

and performing at Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Bangalore was fulfilling, satisfying to say the least. So many members of the audience shouting out to us that this is the best evening that they have ever had and to us, that was music to our ears. We kept up our tradition of making the audience that reads The Hindu dance. And they are amazing sports. A lot of fun and not really much of the stiff-upper-lip types as they are portrayed to be. The audience also sang along several times. That's a lovely experience to be a part of. I hardly expected people to know me in Bangalore but they did. Some people in the audience asked me to sing Ghazals yesterday and since it was not supposed to be in the format of the show, decided to give it a skip. Yesterday was my first concert in Bangalore.
More importantly I had this wonderful breakfast session on the day of the concert at Coimbatore that lasted 4 hours. Not much eating but amazing conversation to be a part of, more as a listener. If we but listen, there is a lot that people want to say. And sometimes I wish and pray that the aural tradition that we are famous for in India, through which most of our culture, traditions and arts have been passing down generation after generation does not take a break thanks to the impatience and busy-ness of our times.
The trip to Bangalore was quite an experience to say the least. Since Coimbatore and Bangalore concerts were scheduled on consecutive days it was kinda hectic. Then the flight from Coimbatore to Bangalore got canceled. We decided to take the road to meet with a Road-roko ome 50 kms off Krishnagiri and were stalled for over 45 minutes and then a little bit of panic set in. Mom got down and literally haath-jodkar asked people to give way so that we could go. We were the last to be let before they completely blocked the highway, for God knows how long.
We reached the concert hall 20 minutes before the scheduled start and the car containing my clothes hadn't arrived. Bangalore being the city it is, you lose the way, you are a gone-case. 5 minutes before scheduled start the suitcase arrived and I had a two-song headstart with Srini sir beginning the concert. 
Mahalakshmi Iyer, a singer I have always wanted to perform with was a part of the Bangalore show.  She shared so many anecdotes and experiences that are possible only at such concert settings. She is an amazing person.
When I joined the audience in the hall to sing along toward the end, some of them took away my mic. One member of the audience came on stage, took my mic and finished singing an the entire song of Chin Chin chu and I was quite amused by the entire goings-on. 
I had to drive back to Chennai last night as I had to speak at the plenary  session of the SAARC Chamber Council for Women Entrepreneurs this morning. I met some outstanding ladies like Ms Gariyali, IAS Officer,  Ms Rasheeda  Bhagat of the Hindu Businessline, Ms Janaki Pillai of Ability Foundation, Ms Indira Dutt of KCP Ltd, Ms Rajyalakshmi Rao who has been with the District forum, State and National commissions for Consumer Redressal, Ms Rohini, Ms Sharon Apparao of Apparao Galleries and Ms Radha Parthasarathy who has done some amazing work at Thandalam.
More than anything else, the HNF concerts have given me memories to cherish, absolutely good music from some stellar musicians from Kerala and Chennai and lovely times. 
Hectic activity ahead for Blue Elephant ahead and I totally looking forward to it.
To sum it all up, Musafir Hoon Yaaron... Mujhe Chalte Jaana hai.. Bas.... Chalte jaana!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What I sometimes do in my spare time

is bake. The obsession started sometime earlier this year. And have been baking away. Bought a small oven and then bought a bigger one, with whatever sad contraptions that are available in the name of convection ovens (not microwave) in Chennai.
My mother was mostly complaining that I would never step into the kitchen except of course to make tea or coffee and then suddenly baking started. Coming to think of it, I don't know when and how I started off with this. Maybe a friend goaded me into it. And that was the beginning of this hobby. Yes, I think the credit goes to her and she said lets bake this weekend.  And we first tried a chocolate fudge microwave oven cake. Which came out well enough since we followed a microwave oven recipe. But figured microwave ovens, even if they have the convection mode are not designed for serious baking at all. 
And I have fallen hook, line and sinker into this hobby. Eggless baking mind you. Which meant checking out all the vegan baking books and just checking out what they do instead of eggs. And next calling friends over and asking them to try this and try that.
Breads and cakes and cookies and now icecream. Finally invested in a Kitchenaid stand mixer and its attachment when I went to Canada. And its fun. My mom however, still thinks this is a temporary obsession. And I think twice before baking cookies in this Sunflame OTG. But I figured the world really has not come to thinking of freestanding ovens for people like me. Friends of mine who have also recently taken to this dont want to get into the headache of calling their carpenter and redesigning kitchens for the sake of this. And though we want to fly high in baking wonderland, we find our wings clipped. Oh, the woes! :p

Nevertheless, to you, I'd suggest you try some sort of a food preparation except instant food, of course. I am sure doing this on a daily basis is ho-hum. But check out baking. Its quite a wonderful experience.

Monday, November 22, 2010

After quite a sabbatical from reading, I finished a couple of books in two days. Dreams in Prussian Blue and No God in Sight. Though I am no fan of fiction, I was drawn to reading Dreams... when a friend told me the story, seamlessly and in one flow. These two are page turners. Have 'Bombay' as the backdrop. 
And for me, they are slightly gloomy. but I loved reading them nonetheless. Loved the narrative. 
Nothing can be truer than the fact that books open up vistas you never knew existed or sometimes just become peep holes. Peepholes that could lead you to opening the door or just say OKThxBai, I'd rather not cross the threshold into whatever lies beyond that door. The mystery or maybe fear of not knowing what is beyond. And the fear that we could actually get lost in the nothingness of it all and horror of horrors, even like it, finally. 
Looking out of the window into a rain-washed city now that is trying to find some warmth and those who go on the roads wish, that the sun that peeps through the clouds would miraculously vacuum out the slush and murky brown and grey waters on the road and that their clothes could be saved the assault. We go here and there, rush about with this and that, lead the lives we lead, believing and kidding ourselves that it all has a purpose, when there is actually none, perhaps. All this, for what? The questions that has loomed heavily and largely over our heads, over our beings. And then we try and erase it frantically like a kid that wipes out mathematics theorems from the blackboard, wishing that it can be blotted out until the next fateful hour the next day. 
And we derive happiness and sadness, confusing purpose or the lack of it from all this transitoriness. Contemplate unsettlingly about all this, but go back to the familiar, and comfortable familiarity of that which has been done for aeons. Because it is easy to lapse into familiar drudgery than explore the scary beyond that we know nothing about. What if we actually see nothing, hear nothing and know nothing? Would we be happy that we started out in the first place?
Its easy being who we are. Doing the things we do. Singing the next song, humming the next tune, doing our next degree, working up the next rung in the cliched corporate ladder, lah-di-dah. 
And while I thought about all this, the phone rings for me to give a sound-byte to a radio station. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Next up - Coimbatore and Bangalore.

The show in Hyderabad was amazing to say the least. I was performing there for the first time and also perhaps the first time with Shwetha Mohan. Only thing, this was a concert for which I had absolutely no rehearsal. My travel plans upset a lot of things. And on the day of the show, the flight had to be diverted to Bangalore instead of Hyderabad and I landed late. And hence missed the rehearsal that was happening that morning. Just got to check a couple of songs, during the sound check. But that was about it. Over and above that, battling an oncoming cold and a throat infection and making sure that it does not get worse.... But then that's the story of our lives.
Post the show, when I got tweets from some people saying that it was the best concert that they had attended in their 23 years in Hyderabad, I felt completely gratified. We had the audience dancing with us for the final couple of numbers. I happened to spot Anuj Gurwara in the audience and asked him to join us on stage. Strangely he had just messaged another friend of mine a couple of minutes before I called him up, that he wished that he could be on stage with us. Talk of immediate wish fulfillment :) He rocked it too. 
I had amazing stage monitors, again a rarity these days, though I wonder why. Once we know how we sound everything is a breeze. Otherwise its a total disaster.
Performing at the Corporation Kalaiarangam on the 26th and the next day, the 27th at Bangalore Jnana Jyoti Convention Center. This will also be my first concert in Bangalore and am completely looking forward to the experience.

.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Hindu November Fest

And I am a part of it yet again. This time round we are performing Hindi Retro Numbers in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Coimbatore.
November 14th at Ravindra Bharathi, Public Garden Road, Saifabad, Hyderabad- 500004,

November 26th at Coimbatore: Corporation Kalaiarangam, R.S. Puram, Coimbatore.

November 27th Bangalore: Jnana Jyothi Convention Centre, Central College Campus, Bangalore.

I will be performing with Srinivas sir, Haricharan and Shwetha Mohan. Mahalakshmi Iyer would be performing at Bangalore alone. And am soo looking forward to this series once again.

You can see the rest of the line-up and buy tickets here
And as they say, Let the Music Begin!

New Releases - Engeyum Kadhal

Quite a few lately in Telugu Kannada and Tamil. Shopping Mall in Telugu, Minnal Minnum and a few more plus a song that I have been looking forward to ever since the day I recorded it. In Engeyum Kaadhal composed by Harris sir.
I sing with Harish Raghavendra after quite a while. One of our memorable duets was Noothana from this film called Karka Kasadara.
After singing this song, I felt in love with the world and yes that is quite a possible feeling. Working with Harris sir has been wonderful. Especially after Varayo and thanks to that song most of the awards were given to me, all credit and thanks to him. I can safely say a few more people began liking my work after this song. The audio is said to hit the stores tomorrow and the teasers that I have heard so far does not feature my voice. Teased me enough as far as I am concerned.
Also worked with Madhan Karky, the illustrious son of Vairamuthu sir in this song. Remember him walking in and was wondering who this college-goer was. Turns out he does go to University, but to teach! He happens to be a professor at Anna University. Lovely lyrics and he was also teaching us some new things about the iPad which had just come in at that time. After the recording, I also heard a few other songs of the album and a singer that is introduced anew is Aalaap Raju. He is a really good guitarist but makes his debut as a singer with this one. After I heard the songs I asked Harris sir how soon the album would release and all he did was give his trademark giggle. Soon, is all he could say. I loved listening to album and hope you do too.

Travels and music

If there is something called deafening silence, I heard it at Canada. All the time. Silence so loud that it wants to make its presence felt in your ears every milisecond of the moment. A silence so silent that you wish it would break the spell itself. The winter silence perhaps. Or perhaps the country as not so populated and milling with crowds and their melange of various thoughts through the day. Also because of the timing of my flight or whatever the reason may be, the thought kept coming to my head, while traveling to Canada, I was chasing sunset and on my way back home, I was chasing sunrise. A lot more times these days, I find myself silent and observant rather than wanting to speak. 

Anyway, that apart, I performed Kilimanjaro for the first time overseas at Canada with a really amazing head-dress that the group Agni had got for me.
Just so happened that they had made it in blue and it just so happened that it matched my clothes to a tee. Synchronicity or what!
The show was really well put together and I loved my sojourn there and finally made my way back to enough and more noise, typical Diwali style, even at the middle of the night back home :)
A lot more coming up. And Soon !

Monday, October 25, 2010

Endhiran Songs Special

Was telecast for the on SUN TV yesterday and in case you didn't catch it, here are the links pertaining to Pudhiya Manidha and Kilimanjaro
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G32f-buhd8&feature=player_embedded#!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGCWCUM9ZtA&feature=player_embedded


For me, the surprising thing of this feature, is though I had no clue when Javed had shot and when I had shot. But we seem to be on the same pitch! Just noticed.... Ah well! Good to be on the same note!

Performing at Canada - 30 and 31 October, International Center

So many days since the last post and so much has happened. Tweeting kinda steals the thunder from blogging. From watching the FDFS of Endhiran to being in Canada now for a concert its been an eventful 3 weeks. 

Last month when I had traveled to Hyderabad to receive the SouthScope award for Best Female Playback Singer, Anushka Shetty and Director Krish made the moment extra special. Meeting Anushka was one of the best parts of the trip. 

Have started dubbing for a couple of films and shall update here in this space later, when it is time for release. 

Being on Sanjay Pinto's Chennai Speaks Out was an amazing experience for me, especially in the company of Sri Sudhangan and Sri Gnani. Though I have known of them, I met them for the first time thanks to the show and I learnt a heaven of a lot of things. So many things from history that they quoted and shared on and off the show. A lot about music and composers. They both are like encyclopaedia. Also met Mr Sreedhar Pillai of TOI thanks to the show, a highly knowledgeable person and senior journalist. A lot of times, I have heard my mother say that the generation today lacks the advantage of satsangati. Of being in the presence of exalted and intellectual company where all that we need to do is keep both eyes and ears open. There would be so much to learn, through the Karna Parampara. The Parampara or the lineage of the ear. Of listening. God has been kind by providing me such experiences and I hunger for more. The other day, in Mumbai I was fixing the strings of my Sarangi and I ran into a senior classical musician. And heard him speak on the traditions of music. Could not be help be enraptured. If we but listen there is so much to learn. 

Vijayadasami was a wonderful day and a day that I will cherish in my fondest memories. A reinforcement that dreams come true. Even if it were only a wish. Had started losing hope on certain things but a beam of light does shine through to show hope. And there comes the reason to hang on, again. 

Was also a part of the Director's Union D40 event, celebrating 40 years of the Directors Union. Listening to Mrs Radhika Sarathkumar's speech had the entire audience rolling in laughter. The lady is brave as a lioness. But I am not willing to reveal too much here basically because I do not want to be a killjoy.

As for me I am just looking forward to performing this weekend at the International Center in Toronto. And perhaps get some stuff for my new found passion in baking. Canada and US being Baking-ingredients-wonderlands that they are!! Wondering if I should also let my hosts to experience the result of my baking, which I assure you are pretty decent, eggless and all. The friends that have eaten my baking creations are all alive well, healthy and have remained so from the moment they ingested it. Thank God for small mercies :p 
But jokes apart, really love this hobby. If you don't bake, maybe you should try it sometime? Its good fun!

Friday, October 01, 2010

ENNNNNNNDHIRAAAAAAA

The voice of Hariharan ji singing that word kept echoing in my head for the past couple of days until this morning. Caught the show at 8 AM, or rather intended to. Which started late. And then there was another technical glitch, which made the lot of some 300 in that particular screen enjoy two intervals. One intended by the director and the other totally not :)
Maybe because of the screen I watched it in, the audience were a little less evocative about shouting out to thalaivar. But I guess the point is the movie kept us so darn engrossed that we forgot a lot of things. More than anything, there were no punch dialogues. And hence no chance to shout out. Could not help feeling slightly emotional when I saw Kilimanjaro on screen. Silent thanks went out to Rahman sir.
Nothing compares the experience of watching a thalaivar film on the first day. Its almost like a festival, methinks. Only that eppo varum epdi varum nu sollavae mudiyaadhu!
Right after the film I went into NDTV for their Endhiran special, wherein they interviewed several technicians that were part of the project. Mr Sanjay Pinto was kind enough to spend some time and had a great time catching up with him. It was amazing to learn how the media helps maintain peace and calm in a country. For all the media bashing that I have seen and heard, there is a lot more than meets the eye.
As or Endhiran, Whattttte film is all I will and can say. Friends of mine have caught 3 shows of it already at various theatres. Have fun. Its truly a spectacle and complete paisa vasool.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TEDxChennai on October 10 2010

Less than two weeks and I have been looking forward to this since last year to be honest, the minute TEDxChennai Edition 1 wrapped up and everyone posed for pictures.
I went to a couple of the organizers meetings this time whenever I could and hope to be of help to the committee as much as I can.
Being a part of that event was a full day of positive energy and to you, I would suggest, or rather urge you to be a part of the audience. Its a day well invested.
Book your tickets here at http://www.TEDxChennai.com

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jhootha Hi Sahi

Have sung Maiyya Yashoda (The Jamuna Mix and The Thames mix) in this album with Javed Ali and this recording session was one that I would never forget. I met Mr Tyrewala for the second time and it was a wonderful experience to be a part of this recording. Javed Ali recorded this song while his mother was getting a surgery done in Delhi so it was quite hectic for him.
Rahman sir told me to sing and sound the way I do in this song. Like a really young girl, not that I am a hag now, but still, to bring in the chirpiness of a younger girl. 
Meeting Mr Tyrewala was like meeting a really wonderful professor and listening to a wonderful address. Not sure if he would take it as a compliment but in the conversation that I had with him, I had a great time listening to him on philosophy and his interpretation of some of the myths and legends of India to the best way to eat waffles. He is most definitely a food aficionados and remember him mentioning about a really wonderful Chinese restaurant in Shimla, if I am not mistaken. Like Vir Sanghvi, he also said that the Chinese food that we eat in India is not Chinese.

Needless to say some of the best conversations that I have had are with the creative people, the wonderful people that are part of the process of making the films that we love to watch. I have not met too many people in the literary and art world yet but hopefully that will lead me to some wonderful learning as well. 
Like this time I met Mr Iqbal Patni, the poet and heard him speak, albeit briefly on cars, which one to buy and which one not to. 
To me, singing for and working under Rahman sir is like being in a Himalayan ashram with a Guru. There is tranquility and somehow even if I have had a really terrible day, everything just vanishes, as far as I am concerned, as soon as I meet him. His hours of rigorous spiritual practice and communion with the Almighty has this effect on other people I would daresay. Someday, I hope to have the same sort of a positive effect on the people that I meet.
Enjoy the album and you can listen to it on http://www.saregama.com and when you do want to download, please make it legal.


Thanks and God Bless.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Each of us has a gift I feel. Someone told me that music is the language of the Gods and to be able to speak it is a blessing in itself. And also that same someone told me that I am here to amuse the Gods. Though there are times when I look skywards, because eventhough the Supreme Being is all pervading and everywhere, thoonilum-thurumbilum types and all that, it just is instinctive to look skywards for some reason whenever I feel like conversing with this person who thinks I am for his amusement and tell him (and please, "How do you know its a 'HIM'" is cliched), that maybe while its good he is being amused, I actually do not find all the goings on funny. And maybe he can work on my amusement once in a while. 

At a time when there is mostly silence all around me but for this amazing composition that I choose to play that wafts, entwines through every cell in the air around me, seeping it with a flavour, a fragrance that when I look at this curtain rippling near me by the window, I wonder if it is the breeze or the notes. Ah well, that's just me being romantic. 

The past couple of days I have been a part of an amazingly beautiful creative process. Attempted singing a song that is quite drenched in Carnatic classical expression. And learnt so much through it all. We meet so many people, are drained through some meetings, exhilarated by some, tired of some, some affect us and some do not even have the effect like maybe a baby's breath may have on a lock of hair. The past couple of days, has left me grateful for being born as me. Thankful for the people I meet. Especially for the songs I get to sing. And this amazing veteran composer and a gentleman that I have met and have got to know. 

God does exist around us. He is someone with a piquant sense of humour. He exists in the people that we meet. And there are times when he comes through. And for the agnostics and atheists, look at it as some sort of a magic. Inexplicable, enigmatic and lovely. 

At times that I sing, its almost like something reaches out to me and a sense of peace and serenity settles in me.  I felt like that the past couple of days. When the time is right, I shall tell you which song I am talking about.

At this time, I feel like diving into deep blue sky. 

For you, I wish that you go through this enough number of times, revel in it, get drenched in it to the  very nucleus of every cell of your being.  Enough number of times. Like you closing your eyes and smiling a smile that magnifies a million times in your mind's eye. To feel the love, peace and beauty of this thing called life. For you, I wish that you find your gift that is a part of you. Become one with it and let it find expression in you. Love yourself, love and give freely.
Tathaastu and God bless.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Vinayaka Chaturthi special on Isaiaruvi

For those of you that asked me for the link.
Hope you all had a wonderful Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganpati Bappa Morya!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u10Qj9y5ruw&feature=player_embedded
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CuWjwjNRvI&feature=player_embedded#!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThnNiGpWA5I&feature=player_embedded#!

Meera

I am the voice of this new sitcom on Vijay TV which shall telecast Monday through Thursday at 20:00. I guess this would be the first title song that I have sung in Vijay TV
Hope you guys enjoy the show as well. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Have been listening to some music from Pakistan and Punjab. And am blown away by the beauty of the lyrics. 
And the more I listen to some notes that come from some musicians the more I see the musician and his song are so entwined with each other that maybe after a point, for me, I do not see the two different entities. The song becomes the songster. The songster becomes the song. 
The beauty of the words that have been strung together by fingers holding a pen or, if I may be dreamy, a quill perhaps, with fingers stained dark from the ink. Maybe like the delicate fingers that play on a stringed instrument, where long after the notes have ceased to resonate, the strings have left a mark  on the fingers that played them out. I also wonder how did the poets who were men understand the sentiment of a woman, especially the wedding songs of Punjab, so much that he goes to describe how she would feel when she leaves her father's home.
I, was thinking today that I am blessed to be born a musician more than anything else. And so thankful that I was not born a Gandu who did not understand notes or tones. Or music at all. 
The Sufi, it is said, pehle hi sab kucch haar ke aata hai. That he has already lost everything. He has lost his people, his home, his wealth, his mind even, in search of the Ultimate One. In search of the One with whom he could be one with for eternity. For the One whom he pines for. The same way Meera pined. Or how Aandal pined.
(At this point I remember how there are times that I pine for a good monitor on stage. That's a different sort of pining altogether, anyway :) )
I wish today, that some day I'll sing like the Sufi. Or I be like Meera or Aandal.
And to you, the reader (not sure if you can sing or play or an instrument), I wish for you that you experience the pure emotion of your eyes welling up as an expression of that which wells up within you. Like maybe, a beautiful flowery creeper that twines around your soul and squeezes it enough to make you shed tears but leaves you with a fragrance that you could get a whiff of, every time you close your eyes. Its a wonderful feeling. May you also pine for something but I won't wish that for too long for you though, and may you get what you pine for, if that makes you happy. May you be joyous.
May you be blessed, on this Krishna Jayanti. May Lord Krishna bless you.

Tathaaastu.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More often than not, while doing the things that I do, meeting the people that I meet and facing times and circumstances that I face, I think back on the time of the cliched age of innocence. 
Happiness at a time meant owning a Pilot microtip pen. Or to own a Sheaffer. Going to the teacher with the monthly test/exam asking for a 're-total' or ask for an extra mark and feel proud to get 47 and 1/2. (on 50) Where 1/2 was written like a 1 and a stylized E in red. A so-called fashion show, where someone would be crowned Miss 6A. With other classmates for judges. Of 'crowns' made of pink cardboard and sequins. Of referring to glitter as 'jigina'. Of being caught by the Physics teacher on "WHY DID YOU HAVE A  MISS 6A CONTEST??"
Of watching the faces of the top three rank holders in class figure who trounced the other by a fraction of a quarter mark. And then the utter surprise on their faces to find an underdog. Of crushes and I LOVE YOU greeting cards when, I wonder if people even understood what all that meant. Of unfortunately watching a boy who gave a so-called card, getting thrashed by the Mathematics teacher.
I happened to think about the Pilot pen and the Geometry box and everything else a couple of days ago and read a lovely post by one of my friends on similar lines. 
I wonder if as children, we had something called an Ego. If we bothered about who had the last word. Where the biggest disappointment would probably be not having your parent come home in time, or get to see you favorite TV Show, or maybe get fever before a game or something, but be deliriously happy if it had to be about missing an exam. I was a weird kid though. I remember my mother telling me that they (my grandmom and I ) used to be scared to tell me that Saturday and Sunday meant no school. Heard I used to bawl that there was no school. I finished an entire year's work book in a day and got slapped by the teacher for that. And then my mother asking the teacher not to beat me if I finished books like that, (because she was in a dilemma wondering what to do for an entire year) and that she would supply more if needed.
Happiness was also going to school on a rained out day. Being one of the very few kids in class. I don't wax eloquently about college because I personally had decided no college in Chennai was going to let me go without harping on the attendance and to me music was more important than marking attendances. Hence it was Madras Univ for me.
In retrospect, its funny how the word "partiality" was some sort of a buzz word during school. Getting my LadyBird bicycle. Pink and all. The only thing I remember which was pink in my entire stuff of things that I had. I could not bear the mauve version that they had. Pink was the only other option that I had. The basket and all that. Buying milk from a vending booth. Calm. Quiet.
Would we be happier if we remembered to remain the children that we were? 
Why did so many of us grow up in ways we should not have. Wonder if it is growing up at all. In a lot of cases, we have grown down. Shrunk our horizons. Love less. Accept less. Listen even less. 
With so much noise, within and without, who is even bothered about listening. Whether it is listening to oneself or listening to someone else? 
For once I do not have a wish to end this post with. 
As an afterthought, maybe I do. 
I wish for you that you can play out the memories that give you a sense of poignancy, a yearning for a time that is gone, even if it is only for a little while, something that leaves your throat a little constricted and your heart a little heavy, in your mind's eye. Something that leaves you with a watery smile. And then of course all our everythingness and nothingness will take over. As it usually does.
.................................. ... ... ... .

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Last day on Chhote Ustaad today

I am signing off this show for the last time today.  I loved being a part of it and more than anything else, nothing could have been better for me to finally see Asha Ji and then say thank you :) It was even more awesome to interact with Sonu ji and Raahat ji, not to mention Omi (who I hope will also find his way into Tamil films).

It was lovely working with the team and my thanks go to Saibaba Telefilms and Gaj-ji who believed that a Tamil girl could be on a Hindi channel. More lovely to listen to the children while I was there. It requires guts to have an India-Pakistan show with so many challenges happening, which I am sure you would know of. And kudos to Star Plus and Saibaba for that. My sincere thanks to Hemant ji, Santhosh ji, Faizaan, Bani-ji, and Meena for their time with me and their belief. Also to the god-awesome stylist, goes without saying that whoever watched the show loved my clothes and we finally have a stylist that I love to work with.

My thanks also go to the ladies and gentlemen that I interacted with in the short stint.  

Huge thanks go particularly to the entire gamut of the South Indian audience in North India for their support and love. Thank you for your love and I will be a more worthy singer and performer in the years to come.

In this particular post, I am not allowing comments and neither answer any questions that you might have because there are times in life that we cannot give the answers that are solicited. 

To you all, much love and when you are given an opportunity and there is someone to have the faith in you to take you to a territory that you did not think you could enter, do so. And take that leap of faith. May you have new experiences, newer territories to conquer and lovely times in addition to some difficult times. It makes the win all the more worth it :)

P.S.: Was quite looking forward to the kids performance of Jai Ho on the show today. And strangely it was edited out. Wonder why. I guess they ran out of time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Life can be pretty strange at times. To an extent when you do not know whether you are supposed to be happy or sad or maybe, both at the same time. Wondering which responsibility comes first, that of a family member or that of a professional. 
Sangeetha Maha Yuddham, Day 1 of the shoot my mother fell through a gap in the set, an area which should have been marked for safety (However expecting all that in India is futile) and had a compound fracture in her foot. For the next week until the mad schedule of 3 episodes a day was over, she kept telling me it was only a sprain and that there is nothing wrong. She came in a miniature plaster and said that is just to keep the foot stable. She did such a good job of convincing me that I did get convinced. And during the time that she was in hospital and getting all this done was when a couple of wardrobe malfunctions had happened. A lot of times, we are hurried to say, the "floor is ready" and rushed and rushed and then we hardly have the time to notice the flaws in the appearance. Any more time spent  in it and I start worrying if I become the reason for any delay. Some sort of a skewed sense of responsibility I guess. Thereafter a lot of people advised me that the anchor is the face of a show and there is a lot more responsibility in presenting myself well than  being there on the sets before everyone else. Things I still learn. Anyway it was only at the end of that schedule that I knew that mom had had that fracture and it took her two months to heal. 
Second schedule of SMY, I land here after the shoot in Mumbai, to know that my grandmother, the lady in whose care I was through my childhood, had passed away. And for all the inner battle I went through, I had to stay and shoot and look happy/energetic/laugh/dress up in makeup and jewelery and make it all look genuine Who cares, anyway, if I was sick, or my grandmother had died, or something else had happened. The dates of everyone else, the floor, the unit, the set and so much money was at stake. It was worse for my mom. And I had to be and finish the shoot and continue shooting for the next 3 days at the same maniacal pace. I could not see the face of one of the most important women in my life for the last time. But then, I guess a situation like this may not be new, even to you, the reader. If someone is representing your organization and something like this happens, I have heard of people go ahead and do the needful in the professional front and then be back. 
Now there is a strange sense of placidity within. I am, however, not questioning the meaning of it all, or what truly matters at the end of the day. All I could do was send a prayer out to my grandmom. And hope she will forgive me. 3rd day from her passing, I picked up the Filmfare. And the photographer who took my picture with the award said, "Could you please look happier? Smile more? Energy!!!!" I guess through all that some melancholy had filtered through. And no one has time or energy for your melancholy. Your battles, your issues are your own. And we have got to deal with it and walk the walk and talk the talk.

Friday, August 13, 2010

This week on Chhote Ustaad

has the legendary Asha ji as a guest Judge. It was amazing meeting her, getting to share floor space with her and I got to sing Konjam Naeram for her, when she asked me to sing a Tamil song. When I said, would they let me sing a Tamil song in a Hindi channel, she said "Chennai Hindustan mein hai". And after a little thought I sang Konjam Naeram, at the behest of Sonu ji and thereafter told the surprised audience, contestants, Sonu ji and Raahat ji that the song was sung by none other than her. I sang 4 lines and Asha ji told me to sing again. If only my costume had permitted me and if it were only possible  to do so, I would have prostrated at her feet. Just did half of it though. There was soooo much I learned from her during the few hours I spent with her.  It was a dream come true.

I was overwhelmed when I saw her. To me she signifies the epitome of versatility. There might have been various singers who attempted to sound like legendary singers or would have come down their school of thought but I am yet to come across someone who has the lahza and the andaaz of Asha ji. She is definitely inimitable. And is named the 50 iconic musicians of the world and there is a poll running here, where you can vote for whom you consider iconic.

I have heard so many people telling me here that they are envious of me being on the same show as Sonu Nigaam. He is one helluva performer, note perfect singer as has been mentioned by a few writers before, forthright and not afraid to speak what he believes is right. I respect him for the performer that he is. He taught me a few things on hosting and getting things right which I think I have mentioned in an earlier blog. He seems like a man who does not take bullcrap from anyone. Most my interactions with Sonu ji is limited to on Camera and with Rahat ji its even less. I really did not get the opportunity to speak to him much. Schedules are such that it does not give anyone the time for talking and whatever extra time I have, I utilize it to rehearse with Omi. 

I wish, also for selfish reasons as for the kids, that I get to see more legendary musicians on the show. 

Do watch the Independence day special of Chhote Ustaad this weekend.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Featured in Rising India - Culturama Magazine

Have been featured in Culturama in the Rising India story for Music. After a while I wasn't asked the usual questions. Thanks Poonam!

My first Filmfare

I won on Saturday. For Varayo Varayo and right after I flew to Mumbai. Have had a sleepless couple of weeks now and couldn't find the time to blog about it, though I did tweet the news. 
I walked into the ceremony found my seat and right after that my award was announced. Was good timing I thought that day or would have missed receiving it. 
I also did not think I would get to win the Filmfare this time after being nominated before. Nevertheless it was really wonderful to get the award. Varayo's 4th award this year so far and all credit goes to Harris sir. 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Manathodu Mano - Part 2

http://tamil.techsatish.net/file/manathodu-mano-8/

Endhiran

Kilimanjaro, a duet with Javed Ali. I was quite tickled and was giggling about the lyrics. Really fun lyrics I thought. Javed Ali is a soft spoken, sweet person. And really loved his style of rendition. The session was super fun through and through. From the time I stepped in to Rahman sir's studio and recorded this song I have been praying for it. 
Its hard to describe how do I spell the "tcht tcht" in the song? Well I guess you ll know what I am trying to write about once you hear it. And that I think is my favourite portion in the song. 
I presume this is the song that was shot in Peru / Machu Pichu with all the fancy headgear. And Superstar's style - Thalaivaaaaaa!!!! I cannot wait to watch the film and scream all through the FDFS. 
I think the first ever FDFS of a film in my life was Shivaji. Cannot forget that day. Whatte-n experience. I couldn't hear a single dialogue. But that is not the point is it? All we can do is cheer and scream every time Thalaivar came on screen.
And now to wait for the film... 
Please do buy the original CDs.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Glad

the way the show came out today. One of the rarest shows where the sound came out right and I am happier as a performer. By the time I get the sound, I actually never do, most of the channels don't give me a proper monitor, neither do most of the shows that I have been a part of. I like the way somehow singers from everywhere else sit for even 2 hours, impatiently and get it done. I remember the concert in IIT, when a visibly upset Sonuji ask "Who put the monitors here" and proceeded to physically move them himself. And right then and there for the next 10-15 minutes or so, he got the sound rectified and went on with the show. I wish I can learn that from him. I always used to think if I asked too many times then the sound engineers will get pissed and screw it all up, so I ll grin and bear it. And will always be dissatisfied with how the sound turned out. I must probably learn to do that in some studios while recording too. I haven't got the guts to ask for what I am entitled to yet. Anyway, just got a tweet from someone which said I am going to be in 3 channels over the next week. Star Plus, Sun TV and Jaya TV. 
Also read an article that language seems to be one of the biggest topics of discussion on the sets of Chote Ustaad. Small wonder there, especially with Omi and I. We are giving everyone nice gags :D

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Manadhodu Mano

with me as the guest will be telecast tomorrow on Jaya TV. It was quite a demonstration of most of the songs that I have sung and also there was this point in the show when Mano sir asked what is it that I wanted to share about my life. I also finally got to say what I really felt about Rahman sir and how that opportunity was to me. Rahman sir, at the time when he gave me Kannathil Muthamittaal showed us the beacon of hope, like a farishta, lit a path when there was only mai iruttu around. So many times I have spoken of my mother. So many times have I been criticized, called names by comments in this very blog by anonymous dumb-behinders who so easily type whatever comes to their minds. Time and again am I reminded of what Sri Bhimsen Joshi said a couple of decades ago on this Marathi show called Chehra Aani Mukhavata (In Marathi, means the face and the profile. FYI - I grew up in Mumbai, my early childhood was spent there and at that point in time I could speak no other language other than Marathi and some Hindi. Of course a lot of people told me that I should have publicized this, jocularly, so that I could have become more popular ... hehe. I also wonder how my grandmother understood me. She spoke no English/Marathi/Hindi. Only Tamizh...well that's for a different post) wherein, he said if someone had to walk the path that he had, gone through the experiences that he had, the jagged stones and thorns that were laid out to him,  then no one would ever want to be him and even remotely wish to live his life.
And the very same way if someone had to have gone through what my mother had or what sometimes, I got a glimpse of while peeping through the shield that she had become, once in a while, I am not sure if I could have withstood all that. Some day and perhaps some day soon, I shall write about the life of this lady who had the gumption. This lady who is my mother. Very few people I know have that gumption. About the people she met. About the people she met, no thanks to my career and the blows she had to take.
Yes, time and again and again, I would ask, if I were given one wish, I would change the 18 years of struggle my mother went through. I would change her life.
Because like one of the music directors I worked with said, the only way that someone can disturb you is when they can hit out at your family member. Especially the one they think are closest to you. Are most important to you.
So here is my word out to you. When someone makes a family member of yours a target, remember the actual target is you. Not them. And if you have a talented child in your family and you want to take them to glory (parent/sibling/anyone else) - remember the world is not out there to spread the red carpet out for you. And if you are plain-speaking and the no-nonsense type, it is going to be tougher.
We have walked out of a lot of places which no longer walked their talk. At the end of the day, like my mother says I stand in front of God with a clear conscience. I can still sleep well (That is, if I am not too excited to sleep that is.. :)) I can look anyone in the eye, honestly and challenge them for what is righteous. Even if God had to stand in front of me, I can fight with him. That is if I want to fight. A lot of us read that nice guys finish last. Maybe. Maybe not. But that is a life that is worth living.
To everyone who is fighting a battle, keep the faith. Like Rahman sir showed us the light, there will be someone for you too. Keep the faith and may God bless you.

An award and a nomination

Won Best Female Playback Singer award for Varayo at the Isaiaruvi awards. Happened to perform there as well. Since this was all over Twitter and was also published in papers I thought I might as well publish it here.
Have also been nominated at the Filmfare, my second nomination after Sahana. The other nominees are Rita for Allegra, Suchitra for Oru Chinna Thamarai, Harini for Hasili Fisili and Shreya Ghoshal for Oru Vetkam.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hosting Chote Ustaad on Star Plus

The show starts beaming from July 24. The Judges being Sonu Nigaam, a singer and a performer that I have admired from the time I was in school and the legendary Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan Sahab. 
Right now you must be thinking that Anandha Vikatan got it right. Or maybe they were an oracle. This show and my going there got discussed in finality and confirmed as of 5 days ago and all that I knew was I had to take the next flight to Mumbai for a day. And thanks to jet flights, I go in the morning and come back in the night once work is over to my own home in Chennai. 
The show has kids from Pakistan and India participating and am amazed at the talent and more importantly the attitudes and the mindset of the children there. An ocean of difference from lots of kids that I have seen so far. Also for the first ever time, or maybe its the way Sri Gajendra Singh functions, I saw everything on paper, on what will happen when, a proper run order and a discussion with the directors thankfully a day before the show and there are no surprises. A lot more methodology, discipline and professionalism in the way of functioning. Work starts on time. Nothing is forced and the kids are just the way they are. The kids definitely have the tameez as they say and I am seeing the genuine respect to music and they are there for the sake of music. Not for anything else. Also did not see contestant badmouthing the judges, as I have seen before. Which was also telecast I guess. Not for cars and houses and money. And more than anything else, I love the concept of the jodi between a Pakistani child and an Indian child as a team making up 10 teams altogether, thereby ingraining the message of brotherhood and love in them through music. As I left Mumbai, I read a quote by Raahat Khan Sahab in the newspaper which said that Pakistan has too much terrorism to encourage budding musical talent and that he is glad that the opportunity to showcase them is given by India. After meeting the kids, I wonder why any country would do, indulge in, or promote practices (I think if something like terrorism is not nipped in its bud by any country then they are indirectly encouraging it) that would actually adversely affect the future of their own children, their own future. And every parent of these kids in the show says that perhaps through this show, through music, the message of unity and brotherhood will come through. What better way can there be when the messengers of peace are children? I, like all others that dream, wish for that peace, hope and love for all the children starting from Kashmir to Pakistan to Afghanistan to anywhere were guns are louder than the laughter of happy children. 
As a singer, as a musician I am getting to hear so much of music that I have not heard before and I see that most of the really popular Hindi songs are all borrowed from the traditional tunes of India. 
My co-host on the show is Omi Vaidhya, better known as Chatur Ramalingam of 3 Idiots and he is a total riot. He brings an element that is absolutely ingenious in a show like this.
Sonu ji gave me several pointers on presentation and how to go about certain things in the process. Loved listening to him in those few minutes I got. 
When the judges go about explaining a lot of things to the contestants, I am learning along with them. In addition to so many musical ideas my vocabulary in Hindi and Urdu is growing. Urdu is one of my favorite languages to listen to. It has a mellow and lovely sound. In addition I am getting to listen to Rahat Sahab and Sonu ji sing a lot which, for me as a rasika, is beautiful to experience. 
The show will go on for only about 12 weeks. By the end of 10 days of total work, I know I ll be a completely different person. Richer in experience. And God willing, richer in Music.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Performed at

The Tanjavur Brhadeeshwara temple yesterday. I had visited the town a few weeks ago for another performance and was told to go and visit the Vaaraahi Sannidhi at the temple. I was given to understand that the Chola king always sought her permission before embarking on anything new and also, legend has it that he was cursed to not enter the temple through the main gate and had to use an alternate entrance by which he visited the Goddess first. (Correct me if I am wrong though). I had gone there and the Pujari at the sannidhi said they had looking for my contact details to arrange a concert during Aashad Navaratri. Right then and there the concert was fixed and the said concert happened last evening. Had been looking forward to this and sitting right there in the temple premises and singing was an experience that I will cherish. 
I sang a few Abhangs and Bhajans in addition to a few Tamil compositions and somehow the locals sat through the entire rendition of about 2 1/2 hours +. I did my bit of explaining what the lyrics meant and somehow, I experienced the fact that music really does not know language and the thought is communicated regardless of anything.
I would think of so many things to ask before I went to a temple but once I step in, I forget the list I make. The last time I went there I was given a special darshan of the Gopuram. It just happened somehow. I guess that is where I count my blessings. 
There are times in our lives where, in spite of all the everything that happens in and around us, a sense of nothingness and emptiness does envelop our being. Not in a melancholy sort of a way but I find it hard to explain this. As I went in for the Darshan before the concert yesterday, I got an SMS from a friend who arranges tours in the Himalayan regions of a trip planned and this is the one thing that is still elusive. I yearn to go to the Himalayas and somehow it just does not materialize. Dates clash with professional commitments. And my Himalayan sojourn gets pushed once again. Wonder when the mountain Gods will hear me out.
But for now, I am thankful for the graces bestowed on me.
To you, the reader, I wish for you that you be happy. Truly.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

TEDxBLr

Had quite an amazing time there. I guess more than anything else I had made one of my first trips with a group to a certain destination. Its amazing how you learn things from someone who would have been a total stranger and over the course of a few hours, if you have a mind open enough and ears as well, to listen and truly listen, there is a lot that one can learn. Something that I have learned from my mom and Rahman sir time and again. To keep our hearts and minds open and not draw all these imaginary lines with "this cannot be done", "that cannot be done" and stuff like that. This was reinforced yesterday when I met Suresh Sambandam of Orange Scape, Pravin Shekhar of Krea and Samuel Eddy. Kiruba Shankar has been a mentor of sorts over the years and he has an amazing knack of getting people together and we become the sole beneficiaries and Kribs becomes, like Lakshmi Pratury said at TEDxBlr yesterday, a millionaire of moments. 
Its also amazing how much you can learn from people who have open minds. I somehow feel its infectious and if you spend enough time with them, its an infectious thing altogether. Also relearnt that sometimes you get the best ideas from someone outside of the industry you work in.
We got to know that TEDxBlr was arranged and put together within 4 days and should give it to them for the effort. An event of this stature is difficult to execute within that time frame. The venue was interesting - Opus in the Creek and the post event Karaoke singing, which I think somehow the gang from Chennai dominated was so much fun. It was about 20 hours of learning and fun. Personally, the journey was a lot more important to me than the destination yesterday.
So looking forward to TEDxChennai which happens on 10-10-10 and I am darn sure that this journey would be special to a lot more people too. 
If you are new to TED, I would urge you to check out TED.com and give some time to watch and listen to the talks that are uploaded. 
And to you, I wish for you that you meet people that make you feel that the world is a truly wonderful place; people who remind you that the mind and the universe are too amazing to put restrictions on. 
And I wish for you that you lift some of the restrictions that you may have inadvertently placed there and open your eyes today to a new vision. 
God Bless.
P.S.: If you are already familiar with TED, do visit TEDxChennai and you could recommend speakers for the event too. "Ultimately, TEDxChennai is our opportunity to help make a difference by unleashing new ideas and inspiring the community to help shape the future in Chennai and beyond"

Monday, July 05, 2010

Latest in

Vandae Mataram composed by Imman and sung by Imman, Harish Raghavendra, Vijay Yesudas, Krish, Ranjith, Haricharan, Mathangi, Shalini, Srilekha, Kalyani, and I. I am just *hoping* I have not missed out someone.

And in Vamsam, Marudhaani Poovumela composed by Taj Noor and remember that I was unwell and still recuperating from the fever and sore throat an entire set of us got during the shoot of Sangeetha Maha Yuddham. This would have to be the fastest time from recording the song to release.. I think the album has released within 20 days of my singing the song.
Do let me know what you think.
TIA

TEDxBangalore Tomorrow

And absolutely looking forward to it. And again all thanks to @kiruba for having brought this to my notice. Would have totally missed it otherwise. Interesting line up of speakers and its not a day-long event as I expected it to be. I like the "Best Brain Spa in the World" description.
I would suggest you be there, if you can get the tickets, that is.

http://tedxblr.com/
Lost our phone and along with it the umpteen contacts for which we did not have a backup thanks to the Windows Android-Apple non-sync issue. Eventually planned to write down the contacts but well, destiny had other plans. Got a replacement sim from Airtel and it took them 48 hours to reactivate it and that too only after a friend stepped in and escalated the process this morning. Thanks @amaravind.
Daunting task ahead with rebuilding that phone book. 
So here is to you - may you never lose a phone. 
And may you always have backup of all the numbers. 
God bless.

Madhno features in the top romantic songs of 2010

as of end of June. Happy pappy when I heard about it. I also hear that the album as such is getting amazing reviews and the Midday in Mumbai gave it a rating of 4 stars, which is not happenstance. 
As said before it was amazing to sing for Mithoon and as an admirer of his work, this is wishing him more accolades. Like is written in a lot of reviews, he is a guy to watch out for.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Happened

to hear/read from the latest Anandha Vikatan that I am shifting to Mumbai. Amazing I say. This, most definitely is news to me as well.
Thamizh magazines (I guess all publications that come out with stuff like this are) Unbeatable.

P.S.: I read your comments. But in this particular post a few will remain unpublished.

P.S.: +1 - Anandha Vikatan apparently does not say I am moving to Mumbai. This was based on the phone calls/tweets/mails that I got saying "Anandha Vikatan says you are shifting base". Hence this post. But usually when someone writes that I will be hosting a show, it leads to assumptions that I am shifting too, naturally.  Nevertheless, it was interesting giving a lot of "No I am not moving to Mumbai" replies the past week.

Monday, June 21, 2010

And..

I won the Best Female Playback singer for Varayo Varayo this year at the Vijay awards. This award was presented more than 3 weeks ago but thought it would be better to write about it after the telecast. All credit for this award goes to Harris sir alone and huge shout out thank-you to Red Giant movies. 
I remember Ravikumar sir announcing at the audio launch that his personal favorite is Varayo. Felt extremely grateful to him then and continue to do so.  And yeah the award is kinda heavy. Very heavy in fact.It would easily weigh some 7 kilos or something

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF8fE984oCo&feature=player_embedded#!

P.S.: I was mighty tired that day and was coming straight after the final day of the shoot schedule of Sangeeta Maha Yuddham. Most of us from the team had gotten some sort of a fever and that added up to it. Hope that explains :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sangeeta Maha Yuddham on Sun TV from June 26th

And this is the show I am hosting. And not anything else, thank you very much :)

The press release was today and hence according to protocol, I can speak about the show. If you have watched Music ka Maha Muqabla on Star Plus, this is more or less the same thing, albeit in Tamil. 
The show will have 6 teams captained by playback singers Vijay Yesudas, Devan Ekambaram, Madhu Balakrishnan, Mathangi, Srilekha Parthasarathy and Anupama. 
Every team will compete with the others in the round-robin method and each episode will see two teams compete against each other. The teams will have their respective captains and 3 players. The 4 captains that are not playing on the said day, become the judges of the other two teams' performance/competition.  Hence we have the singers becoming competitors in one episode and judges in another. 

The schedules have been awesome fun and working with the man who started it all, or rather brought music shows to Indian TV, Mr. Gajendra Singh has been an enriching, learning experience. He is the pioneer behind Antakshari and Sa Re Ga Ma from which most of the music shows in South Indian television were inspired. Shall take some pictures in the next schedule and post them here. And to answer another set of questions, yes I am going to be singing in these episodes too, (non competitively of course) quite unlike Super Singer.

So every Saturday and Sunday 9:30 PM, Sangeeta Maha Yuddham on Sun TV. Watch it if you can. 

(Saw the promo today and felt I sounded a bit loud though I hadn't upped my voice level that much. I always had that feeling when I was hosting Super Singer too. Don't know what they do with the balancing that make it shout out)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Audio Launch of Lamhaa

in Mumbai was a new experience for me. For one, it happened in a mall. I hear a couple of movies before that had had their audio launch in a mall before but I am not sure if they performed there. But we did. A stage was set up in the atrium of Oberoi mall and there we were getting the sound check done in front of an audience and finally the performance.
My sojourn in Mumbai lasted 3 days and quite some hectic activity, thankfully. I guess if I hadn't had much to do I would not have been too happy with the excess time on my hands and maybe as I have mentioned before I am not a shopping enthusiast. Now that I have picked up some major interest in baking I had made a note of what I needed and what some friends needed which I successfully picked up very close to the home I was staying in there. I would perhaps love a personal shopper like the character portrayed by Cameron Diaz in 'In Her Shoes'. Not that I do much of it now. Anyway, I am digressing. It was great to catch up with Mithoon after all this while and he is more of a spiritually elevated soul now as I noticed. And what an album. Completely in love with it. Here are some pictures from the launch. Do have a listen to the album and if you are downloading, do so legally :)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Back to hosting on TV

again. After a good hiatus. And am loving this new show. We had a rollicking but grueling schedule last week after which I thought I was ever going to feel my feet, what with all the standing in stilettos all the while. Nevertheless, it was a super fun schedule and shall keep thee updated on what the show is and when it shall be aired and on which channel.

Lamhaa - Madhno / Saajna

2008 August was when I sang for this brilliant composer called Mithoon. I had met him for the first time then. After a few phone calls, Mithoon and his wonderful, illustrious father Sri Naresh Sharma were here in Chennai. After speaking with them I sang the song which turned out to be quite a long session. There were technical difficulties, power cuts that lasted more than a couple of hours and the recording experience was absolutely beautiful and I happened to blog this just after I came back home. I still remember the words forming in my mind while I was coming back. 

When I heard the track of this song for the first time at the studio I had to fight tears. It was soul stirring to say the least and it really hit me. Unfortunately for Mithoon it turned out to be quite embarrassing. He turned and asked, "Do you have a cold?" Would you be able to sing today? or something like that.. And I honestly said the song is beautiful and it really moved me. Later he told me that he found that very strange, for someone he was coming across for the first time and then almost crying to his song. Mithoon came across as a highly spiritually advanced human being and he should have been a highly  precocious child. Small Wonder though. If I am not mistaken he started composing for films at 17.  He should be about 23 now. Needless to say after I got back home I googled him and heard his music and there began a great admiration for his music. Soulful and divine I thought, his Maula Mere, Tere Bin and the songs in his album Tu Hi Mere Rab Ki Tarha Hai.

Here is the trailer of Lamhaa featuring the song. The audio releases second week of June.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SouthScope Interview

Which has happened in this month's issue. Thanks Maha for the scan!
So many times have I wanted to type in this white space with all these formatting buttons and transliteration options and with links to preview, edit and compose only to be held back by the unconditional trauma of having have to choose a title, perhaps akin to what some film makers go through when they come across the all important process of having have to name their characters. Which is why out of sheer boredom or perhaps, the tiredness of the aforementioned process of having have to come up with a spine-tingling name, the very same ones that have been given to heroes and heroines outstandingly long periods of time, get chosen. Rahul, Raj, Tina, Priya, Karthik. The naming bit I have already written about has apparently led to some crazily demented inferences on what the supposed 'underlying thought' could have been with the name. So many people in this world have so much time. Time that I wish I could add to my day, if only that were ever possible.
Like clouds that meander in to a clear blue sky, thoughts tip toe into a mind that is already crowded with all the somethings, everythings and nothings of the world that I have willingly or unwillingly procreated. Some thoughts do have to tip toe I guess, some really good ones can only do that with all the everything that is happening around, maybe like a child that totters into a room full of self consumed adults talking about what exactly is going wrong with the politics of the state only to come to the conclusion, like every conversation that takes place in dining rooms and drawing rooms, coffee houses and tea tables, that its all going to the dogs and nothing can be done. And another time it resurfaces when there is an apparent calm with everything else maybe because the everything else decides to take an afternoon siesta. Right now I am so bitten by the travel bug. I really wish I could get out of here and out there, somewhere, anywhere. Escape almost. For a while. I keep romancing the concept of silence and serenity. So perhaps someplace like that. Sometimes I get into a divine romance. Of romancing spirituality and living a life of austerity. Maybe not of austerity. But definitely out there in the mountains and being where I am constantly in a state of joy, where the weather and everything else will have no effect on me. Nothing can change me. But of course the path I have chosen is quite diametrically opposite to all that. Nothing wrong here. I am OK. But at times it is like a beautiful day dream I conjure up. A beautiful escapade it would be. Actually its lovely this life, my life, without much attachment to as many things as most average people have. I could probably need only my hand digits to count, maybe only those on my left hand, to count out the number of people/things that I am attached to. A lot of people don't have that sort of freedom. So many are so weighed down. And I see most people are not in control of their own lives. They have so many people to ask starting from family to workplace to a lot of other things before they even plan a trip somewhere. Hmm. The only down thing of living in the mountains far far away is that I cannot get my baking supplies. Which is now my new found love .. hehe.
Anyway I have been reading this book, Eat Pray Love. And you should absolutely read it. Its quite wonderful.
Also, just in case you missed it, this post and a lot of my following ones will not have a title. I got some mails saying titles help the RSS feeds. But then, if you are really interested to read all the nothing and somethings that I am saying, you will have to make the effort to check once in a while :)
And yes, if you can, do read. And do travel. Any Book. Any place. 

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Its been 5 years and one day

since I started blogging. Brought to my notice by Jaya in a comment. She says I should blog about it and here I am with nothing much to say except that I am surprised at the time that has flown past. Have seen interesting, heart-warming, complimentary, rude, lewd, downright sexist and several other categories of comments. I have written whenever I felt like ranting, sharing, informing, soul searching and whenever I felt like weaving the occasional yarns of an imaginary world into a tapestry.
To you, reading this, Thank you, for being a part of this journey.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

To the Ladies / Chefs (Michelin rated or otherwise ;))

Is the KitchenAid standmixer the absolute best? Let me know :)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Happened to be reading an Amar Chitra Katha this evening. I usually read and re-read most of the titles I have. Just picked one off my shelf and found the title on Velu Thampi, one of the first freedom fighters of India hailing from Kerala. Its impossible to shake off the feeling that builds in my stomach after reading their lives, exploits, the things they did for their rulers and their land, the country and their sacrifices. Have been watching a lot of movies lately, some great suggestions thanks to a friend of mine and its truly amazing how some movies can alter your perception and open completely new windows to a new horizon. And just like that, I happened to watch Lions for Lambs. Maybe this feeling of despondency, the feeling of being taken for a ride by our own rulers today, exists in every country. The news channels are rumoured to be controlled by politicians themselves like a lot of films  lead us to believe and it does kinda make sense. The media make us look at things in a certain way and also, I have come to believe, condition us to look at things a certain way, in a way they want us to believe. Yes, I agree there are things that the common man need not know, just like in an organization, what happens in a board meeting is not something that a common employee can or need be privy to. Strategies happen at several different levels apparently. There are things that are beyond our understanding and there needs to be - I would like to presume here - a superhuman level of intelligence to run a certain type of an organization, be it an NGO, a Private Ltd Company, a Political party or even a country.
There are people who would like to raise a voice and do something to make a change, or a journalist refusing to buy the story that a politician throws him, like the one so brilliantly portrayed by Meryl Streep in the film (Lions for Lambs), but what she perhaps feels and undergoes, or what I think and perceive her to be undergoing would be exactly where I am right now. And where so many people in our country are. Maybe throughout the world. The fire is there in each of us and it is also as easily and commonly extinguished by well wishers, people who have already been there and tried to do all that, newspapers which so easily feed us the stories of disaster and trials that people that raise a voice go through and we follow our judgment to leave all these higher ideals alone and settle to a life of comfortable routine and emotionless existence. But somewhere embers remain, ready to burst into flames. And by emotionless I mean the lack of emotion or the attachment that is toward our land.
Reading that they are going to be handing out auto permits to anyone and everyone gives a sense of dread and happiness at the same time. Dread that the traffic is going to be worse. Happiness that perhaps the permits will (maybe) finally be out of the clutches of all these unions and politicos who run the rumored auto mafia, giving a feeble hope that there might finally be some good men who will drive those yellow contraptions better and be better citizens on the road.
Bagha Jatin, Veer Savarkar, Velu Thampi how many that loved our land so much and wished that the generations in the future would wake up to the skies over a free motherland. How many women committed Sati and Jauhar. How many women took up arms. A lot of times I feel that we are all a pack of ungrateful wretches. I wish those leaders could return. And there are more times now, than any other that I wish that they would come back. To knock the sense back into our skulls and teach us discipline that we have found convenient to forget. We don't even seem to have a simple civic sense and sense of duty. Its possible that you, who are reading this post would be different, having the same angst as I am (considering that we are the more 'educated', informed, wishing for and becoming the change, in ourselves and others).  
I cannot believe the number of times an auto, even a BUS (!!!) has run into so many people in a one way by coming from the wrong side, bus drivers whose new hobby is to scare women drivers / two wheeler riders as if they are about to run into them, and then laugh over it, cars that come in your lane, but from the opposite side. Then we are told to open our eyes and drive. What the hell I feel like asking. I follow the rules and still I have to pay? God forbid an accident does happen, I have to pay nonetheless and so will my insurance company for no fault of mine. Worse if a traffic policeman comes in to "set things right" bribing begins to happen or so they say. I haven't been in a situation like that before and I sincerely hope and wish I do not. There is a chance that I won't take nonsense and I might have to 'pay' for my sense of righteousness or smartness or whatever it is. Roads are perhaps at their worst today. And it could be worse. 
I wish this country could change to be one where religion is not propagated and sold like a commodity. Offering juicy baits to increase numbers and at times these baits are emotional well being. How many people get played. All because we as had become foolish enough to give in to our mammoth egos and let go of our joint family systems. Because no longer would we listen to the voice of reason and slowly the elders stopped speaking to the young. The transfer of knowledge and wisdom waned. 
I wish the caste card were not played to the hilt all the time in this country. Someone I knew had to vacate from her own apartment because a tenant below had such a huge inferiority complex of belonging to a 'lower' caste, whatever in God's name that is, (which is also fed to him by leaders of his own kind who keep giving him the "we are oppressed" slogan rather than instilling the idea in him that he is beyond his caste, creed, colour and language and that he is one of the most special people on this earth and that he can be whoever he wants to be and none of  those parameters matter) and he raised a big hue and cry saying she called them by the name of his caste. So many people use the caste card to their advantage and the country makes it easy for them to do so, while the real sufferers get no justice. 
But then like they say, power does corrupt absolutely and even apartment associations run a racket that is beyond any comprehension. They form their own groups, establish laws, which by the way does not seem to do any good for anyone, if they want to drive someone out they easily can, by cutting water supply, just like that or giving trouble in how many ever ways they can and eventually drive them out. Rumor has it that there are people in in so many areas in Chennai who must be bribed so that someone can remodel or perhaps and reconstruct their own house, just so that they can do so in peace.  In some places its the usual racket of bringing and driving out tenants so that there is a steady stream of commission that some people can eat into. If an apartment or a street or an area can do all that what would a politician not do? That said, I have met some brilliant IAS officers too, in some of the meets that I have been in or events that I have attended. They seem to have done tons of work in the areas that they have been allocated.
At this point please do not ask me what I have done or tell me to stop cribbing or ranting or raving or a simile on those lines. Also, do not ask me the list of things I have done or the charities I have been a part of. That is also something I will not talk about. I am not a politician to list out the things I have done for the betterment of anyone or anybody and neither will I become one. I am not crafty enough for that sort of a thing.  Neither am I the direct descendant of Chanakya. Perhaps it would be great if he were reborn and sets things right. I will crib, I will complain and I will rant about things that disturb me. But I pray with my complete being during a lot of my conscious moments and because this is such a deep rooted one, I am sure its a constant sub conscious wish. I really wish to see this country shining. And I really hope that we all, especially the politicians can be worthy of all the sacrifice that so many of our ancestors have done and more so, of the sacrifice that people of our army are doing on a daily basis - those that have not held back from laying down their lives for a country, a country whose leaders are perhaps signing treaties and agreements and pacts that we might never really know of, barters and deals that may even sell of the best interests of people like us - and like they say, in blissful ignorance do we live. In blissful ignorance and complete faith in our leaders do the soldiers of every country fight. Not knowing what they are fighting for and for whom. There was a famous saying - Imagine there is a war, and nobody turns up? (Its perhaps from a song) I don't know if the normal citizens would have the common sense to not show up at a war rather than become chess pieces in a board that world leaders can move and remove at their will and pleasure. 
But despite all the hopelessness I pray. I pray for a better land. A better future. All that I can do is pray. With all my heart. With the hope that the Universe will answer in all its glory.