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In a deluge of melodies

S. SHIVA KUMAR

Mungaru Maley's unanticipated success has flooded music composer, Mano Murthy with offers. The musician, however, is not quite prepared for this

Photo: Murali Kumar K.

LOW PROFILE Mano Murthy: `I don't want to become a celebrity.'

There's no way you can escape it. It's ubiquitous. If it's not on TV it's definitely someone's request on the radio. Now with the omnipresent cell phone if it's not somebody's ring tone, well it's their caller tune. There are instances of the receiver being cursed for picking up too soon because the caller couldn't listen to more of the song. Yes, it's the music of "Mungaaru Maley". It took time to catch on but with the phenomenal success of the film the music is a rage especially the melody, "Anisuthidhe yako indhu" sung soulfully by Sonu Nigam.

The music director is Mano Murthy who previously enjoyed moderate success with films directed by Nagathihalli Chandrashekar. Now the offers are pouring in. He's doing Puneet Raj Kuar's next film as well as S. Narayan's and a few more for big banners. He's soft spoken and unassuming with a look that says: "Is all this really happening to me? I didn't do it on purpose." There's only the slightest tinge of an American twang as he answers in earnest.

The interview:

Is this kind of success new to you. Has it sunk in yet?

Yes, it's new. I wasn't expecting this nor did I want to become like this. (Laughs) I just want to keep a low profile where my music is concerned. I want to be able to focus on my music. I don't want to become a celebrity.

But you are one now.

I know. That's what people tell me. My wife says, `You asked for it and you got it now.' Well I really didn't ask for it but have to deal with it now. It's a learning process for me now.

Why add California to your name?

That was not me. That's the way they branded me.

I bet it was Nagathihalli Chandrashekar.

You are right. It was during "America America". I guess there was some ambiguity because there were a few more Manos like the singer.

What are you basically?

I was in the hi-tech industry for more than 30 years. I was into networking in companies like CISCO and Alcatel. I then quit and got fulltime into my passion. In the last 10 years of my professional life I was still doing music for movies but more as a serious secondary job. My goal was to get into music full time and I'm doing it now.

But you're still based in California.

My family is there. My kids are going to college there. I do all my composing there because it's much quieter. With advanced technology things are very easy. I do the recording here though.

You were with a band in college. Now reproducing music is easier than creating music.

Exactly. That's what I found out too. But my goal was to create music and not to reproduce something that had been done by somebody.

When you tune something faster I found that your orchestration drowns the vocals.

Oh... I need to pay attention to that. Like you mentioned my forte is melody although I became popular for the "Car, Car" song which had no melody.

Talking of lyrics you have a horde of singers from Bombay singing in "Mungaru Maley". The accent is ok but getting them to accentuate emotions must be difficult. Is there a paucity of singers here?

First of all there's nothing wrong with local singers. I've used them. It just depends on the requirements from the production side. Also look at it this way. It adds variety. Unfortunately, there are only a handful of good, local singers. It gets monotonous. People want to listen to different voices. It also helps in creating awareness about Kannada albums elsewhere. When I went to Bombay recently I found that people had heard this album and were curious about the film. Some had watched the film too. I think cross-pollination is good in any field. We import actors and directors so what's wrong with singers? Bombay does it too. Aishwarya Rai's from here and Shanker Mahadevan is from Tamil Nadu. "Mungaru Maley" wasn't designed to have so many singers from Bombay. It just happened.

I guess the offers, which started with a drizzle have turned into a deluge now.

(Laughs) Yeah, it's "Mungaru Maley". I just have to see that things don't go out of control. That's a challenge. After this year I think I'll be selective. I'll do only a handful of good movies with good directors. That's my goal.

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