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All the right notes

Prema Manmadhan

Devi Menon plans to bring out an album of ghazals in Malayalam.



MUSIC FROM THE HEART: Ghazal singer Devi Menon.

Devi Menon's life revolves around ghazals. She writes them, she composes them and she sings them. Already, she has sung on more than 3,000 stages and on television.

"Right from a young age, I was in love with ghazals," says Devi, wife of Hakkim Rawther, the director who made the movie, `The Guard,' with one actor, Kalabhavan Mani.

Devi has a degree from Madras University in Carnatic music and a postgraduate diploma from Swati Tirunal College of Music. Yet, she turned to ghazals, learnt Hindustani music and now sings only ghazals.

Malayalam ghazals

"I am not interested in playback singing. I want to concentrate and stay focussed in this field. I have written 130 Malayalam ghazals and set most of them to music," and she breaks into one of her mellifluous numbers that describes the anguish of a desolate woman pining for her lover.

Malayalam ghazals? The mood of ghazals is the same, whether in Urdu, Hindi or Malayalam, the advocates of Malayalam ghazals contend.

The ragas are important if ghazals are to create the desired mood in both the singer and the listener. Apart from unrequited love, they evoke nostalgia and sometimes assume tragic overtones. It brings on a relaxed ambience and mood, where the listeners interpret the music according to their own experiences or mood. Most of Devi's ghazals are set to music in Desh, Shuddha Panthuvarali, Bhairavi, Kaapi and Sindhu Bhairavi.

"I was surprised that college students who, people believe, like only fast numbers, sat rapt during my ghazal performances. The tone, voice, expressions and mood count," she remarks.

The orchestra that accompanies Devi is very special for her, she says, as teamwork is very important for successful live shows.

"The sitar is played by Krishnakumar, who is one of the top musicians who play the instrument. Likewise, Jerson Antony too, who looks after the sound for me."

Devi is planning to bring out an album of ghazals she has written and composed. It tells a story of separation and loneliness in a different way, that of a pregnant mother, the birth of a daughter, her separation from her when she attends school, when puberty makes her distant, then marriage, when it is a happy separation, despite the blues. Devi intends to get top singers to sing her lines and tunes.

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