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SOUND WAVES

Balabhaskar’s rewinds and fast forwards as he talks to Saraswathy Nagarajanabout his musical adventure


Balabhaskar has several strings to his bow. He is a violinist, music composer and one-time singer who breathes and speaks music, 24x7.

As he settles for an interview in the lobby of Hotel Leela, Kovalam, no heads turn however. But when he begins to play the violin, heads turn, cameras flash and people tune in to catch the strains of music. With head thrown back, eyes closed and dimples flashing in and out, Balabhaskar’s bow recreates the sound of waves, breeze and rain drops.

“That is the magic of good music. It is universal,” says the 30-year-old musician, who hit the limelight as a child prodigy. Since his formal debut at the age of 12, fame and Dame Luck have never deserted him as the youngster dared dream big. His globetrotting band, The Big Indian Band, in a way, epitomises his ideas of music.

“I want to do fusion music. Unfortunately, fusion has now come to be seen as mixing bits and pieces of songs or genres. That is not my idea of fusion. Fusion, for me, is a kind of seamless fusing of musical expressions of different cultures,” explains Balabhaskar who has just returned from an overseas tour.

His brand of fusion has the seven talented musicians in his band coming up with their own scintillating mix of rhythm and strings. “We jam together but we also bond on a personal level too. I think that is very important in a team,” avers the violinist who was one of the first in the city to form a band to play his kind of music. Called Confusion, the band began with a bang, playing at the valedictory function of the Kerala University youth festival. “That was way back in 1999 when we were all students in University College. All of us were keen musicians who wanted to make music. But after some time, we found that we were mostly playing film songs. That was not what we wanted to do and eventually we parted,” recalls Balabhaskar.

But by then Balabhaskar had been discovered by Asianet and then by Kairali and soon he was a star and a familiar face.

From wowing local critics and music buffs to impressing international audiences with his brand of music, Balabhaskar has travelled a long way. He had also appeared as a judge on a reality show. But he candidly admits that he has reservations about music-based reality shows.

He feels that huge cash prizes would not really help the youngsters make a career in the music field. “Instead of giving them cash prizes, I feel that the channels should come up with a scheme that would help the contestants develop their talent. Why can’t a channel come up with a plan to sponsor the training of a winner in a music college in India or abroad? It could even be a period of training with a maestro in India.” he says.

As anchor, host and violinist Balabhaskar has made his brand of music heard by a worldwide audience.

“When I hear something that inspires me, I want to reproduce that on the violin. The notes keep playing in my head till I play it on the violin. It could be snatches of song I hear on the radio, a piece played by another musician…anything. Music has been a constant in my life,” he says. Play on...

KEY NOTES

  • Guru and role model: B. Sasikumar

  • Albums: `Ninakkai,' `Adyamai'

  • Films: `Mangalyapallakku,' `Kannadikkadavathu' and `Moksham'

  • Idols: A.R. Rahman, L. Shankar, Jean Luc Ponty, John McLaughlin

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