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My first break



K. S. Chitra

How it happened

My sister Beena and I used to sing for AIR, Kerala. I received comprehensive training in Carnatic music from K. Omanakutty, former Professor of Music at Kerala University, under a national talent search scholarship.

Her brother M. G. Radhakrishnan called me to record a song for a film titled ‘Attahasam.’ Unfortunately, it didn’t make it to the theatres for quite some time.

Meanwhile, I recorded two songs (one a duet and the other a solo number) for the film ‘Njan Ekananu,’ which was released in 1982. After recording a few songs for Malayalam films, I was waiting for a good break.

I consider the opportunity to sing with K.J. Yesudas in live concerts a turning point in my career. Then I sang for director Jerry Amaldev for ‘Nokketha Doorathu Kannum Nattu,’ directed by Fazil. When the film was to be remade in Tamil, Ilaiyaraja asked Fazil about the new voice (which was mine) in a song and wanted me to come for an audition. I just couldn’t believe what I heard.

When I approached the maestro in Chennai, I sang a kirtana. After listening to it, he said ‘good’. The very next day he gave me a chance to sing ‘Poojaiketha Poovithu’ for ‘Nee Thana Antha Kuyil,’ which became a hit.

How it felt

I was happy to sing for Ilaiyaraja. Then I sang the title number for ‘Poove Poochudava,’ the Tamil version of ‘Nokkatha Doorathu Kannum Nattu.’ But the true break came with my fifth song, ‘Nan Oru Sindhu’ for Sindhu Bhairavi. After recording it, I was supposed to go to Kerala to take my examination in Carnatic music.

When Ilaiyaraja called me for the next song, I hesitantly told him I had to appear for an examination to which he said rendering the song correctly was like scoring a pass mark in the examination. And I sang ‘Padariyen Padippariyen…’ I think I got through the examination.

How life changed

Following these songs, I became known in the film industry. I am glad I have sung some of the choicest songs for almost all the music directors in the South.

Till now, I’ve rendered nearly 17,000 songs in several languages and won six national awards (two in Malayalam, three in Tamil and one in Hindi). I owe it all to the support extended by the music directors, directors, producers, my parents and husband.

S. R. ASHOK KUMAR

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