A classicist on her day out
Sudha Raghunathan is a strict traditionalist. But she is not averse to occasional jamming sessions with a fusion band
I love living life to the full SUDHA RAGHUNATHAN
PHOTO: BHAGYA PRAKASH K.
MUSICAL POWER Sudha Raghunathan: `I actually sense an energy flowing to me from the audience during a concert'
She's just seen off her son to the US for doctoral studies, and is therefore in no mood for an interview. Also, all that preparation has fatigued her. However, I persist and she finally relents. "But only after the concert," she adds. She had initially turned down the concert for the very same reason. But organisers, like me, persisted and said her Bangalore following would have a collective heartbreak if they didn't listen to her during this season. And of course, she melted.
That's Sudha Raghunathan for you. Vocalist par excellence. And professional to the core. Her respect and consideration for music connoisseurs has to be seen to be believed. It's also probably the secret of her enduring appeal.
When I ask her, she flashes that ready, winsome smile of hers: "Yes," admits Sudha, "the audience, the rasikas are what keep me going. It might sound strange, but I actually sense an energy flowing to me from them during a concert... it somehow give me strength, and encourages me to give my best. I could sing to an empty hall after having learnt all that music but without the audience it wouldn't be as satisfying, it is they who elevate it to a near-spiritual experience for me." She doesn't fail to add that it was her guru, the legendary M.L. Vasantha Kumari who taught him total reverence for his audience.
Like most successful musicians of the generation Mandolin Shrinivas, Chitraveena Ravikiran, Sudha has also been drawn to attempt fusion success while staying within the confines of tradition, and with much success.
"I have sung on stage for a group called Global Vocal Meeting, the brainchild of an organisation in Lorrach, Germany - - it includes musicians from Mali, Madagascar, Hungary, Switzerland and USA. I have also sung alongside Iranians, Africans and musicians from Paris, in a group named Speech of Rhythm. Imagine singing a Tiruppugal of 21 beats in Shankarabharana alongside such a mixed group of foreigners! It is all both exciting and challenging," she explains
Home and beyond
For someone who is an extremely successful musician, how does she manage home and music, two demanding worlds? Moreso, because Sudha is so deeply into research and gives erudite lec-dems. So, how does she manage it all? "Well, I think it is my zest for life I love living life to the full. Also, family support: a great husband and wonderful children. Till they were about eight or 10, my son and daughter were a bit resentful of my work, and always cribbing about my frequent absences from around them. Now they've grown up and understand that their mother is a public personality, she has important commitments to the outside world and they have to share their mother's time and attention with it. This understanding has made it so much easier for me. And I do make small compensations spending quality time, taking them out to movies. I also often end up watching MTV with my 14-year-old daughter, just to make her happy. This is also a good `steam-out' session for me."
After all the intense practise and hard work, Sudha does feel drained out. Sudha also watches Sun TV sob serials with her mom-in-law. Mom-in-law dutifully keeps her posted on all those episodes that Sudha misses out.
Sudha gets very emotional when one talks of her spiritual guru, Shri Sathya Sai Baba. She says, closing her eyes in a gesture of reverence: "It is he who watches over me and my welfare."
In fact, Baba did everything for her that parents do for their children namakaranam, the ear-piercing ceremony, the aksharabhyasam... ."
And finally, she adds: "And, MLV, my teacher is also blessing me from up there."
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