Music makes you more sensitive, says Aruna Sairam
By Sudha Jagannathan
Last Updated: 17-06-2021 1:53PM
contemporary, traditional and dynamic, all rolled into one. She is a
fascination for the young and old alike. She has the uncanny ability to adjust
her singing to suit the assorted sensibilities of multi-mood rasikas. Vocalist Aruna Sairam shared
her musical experience in a chat session with Deccan Chronicle at the Rasam
Restaurant in T. Nagar, held under the auspices of Sri Krishna Sweets, on
December 13, 2011.
For fans across age and gender categories, her concert must necessarily have
the popular “Maadu Meykum Kanna”. She
can’t get away without singing that number. Thanks to her, Marathi Abhangs have become an important constituent of the
December Carnatic music season in Chennai. Indeed, she is a new age artiste!
What strikes one is her innate ability to connect with a wide range of
audience. Aruna Sairam enjoys the adulation showered on her. Carnatic, western
classic, Pop, Jazz and even the Hindi songs of Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar
– Aruna loves all forms of music. Nothing is anathema for her. For her, all
forms of music are divine. When comes to Carnatic music, however, she presents
it only in the traditional style. In the December season especially, according
to Aruna, no artiste can appeal to the connoisseurs without a Todi, a Kambodi or a Bhairavi.
"A concert will appeal to the audience only if I enjoy it myself,"
Aruna says. For her, advance planning is a must for any concert. On occasions,
however, she does change the plan as it happened once during her concert in
Kolkatta. "After seeing the ambience, I had to change the whole list of
prepared songs”, says Aruna. Sound-check prior to a concert has become a part
of her habit. Thanks to her guru T. Brinda, Aruna has rich repertoire in her
music armoury. Kritis such as Veena Pustaka Darini, Janani Ninivina,
Chetasri Balakrishna and Kantimatim
are rare gems and one needs maturity to project them, she points out. “It took
me quite a while to internalize these kritis
taught by my guru and present them in my own style,” Aruna adds.
A ten-year-old, according to her, won’t be able to do an Abinaya for the Shringara
rasa. In contrast, an 18-year-old can bring this bhava to the fore. As a child, Aruna grew up in a musical
environment. Bhajans and Bagavatham were routinely held at her
house. She had the rare opportunity to be in proximity with Needamangalam
Bhagavathar and others. Her grandmother had composed many a marriage song and
the numbers such as "Maadu meykum
kanna". Surely, all these have helped her to become an artiste of the
stature that she is today.
What is the ideal mix between creative and
composed music in concerts?
According to her, each artiste has to take an independent call. "Some have
the grammatical temperament. Still others have emotional temperament. Artistes
will have to discover where he/she could shine. They have to build the concert
around their core strength," she says. “Singing a kriti could be as musical as a raga
alapana," asserts Aruna. She goes on to demonstrate it by singing her
guru Brinda’s kriti “Tamara Saksha”
in ati vilamba kala (slow pace). “Music
is an expression of emotions,” she says. “A slow piece sometimes turns out to
be the soul of the concert,” she points out. “I don’t do a concert without the
soul piece. A concert will be a waste without the soul piece,” she asserts.
According to Aruna, music “should touch the soul”. She goes on to add, “It
should linger and stay with the listener.” That is the purpose of music, she
feels. “It is all about reaching out to the audience and sharing with it the
inner most sensibilities. It’s a deep kind of a sharing. The rest is
work-oriented,” she says. “Through my music, I want to show to the world at
large a new world,” she says. The idea is to reach out to people in so many
ways and mould the sensibilities of a whole new generation. “Music makes you
more sensitive to the people around you,” she points out.
Is she conscious of her brand?
“I am conscious of music and music alone. Am I expressing myself well?” she
points out. “But brand has a responsibility and impacts on what I speak. So, I
have to be cautious,” she adds. Has she changed over the years? “I have
changed. So have the audience,” she quips. The audience is now open to so many
things, she observes.
On the reality shows in television, Aruna is strongly against subjecting the
children to public censure. “This will affect their personality,” she points
out. She is happy that the sabhas
have mushroomed in Chennai. This opens up more opportunities for the modern day
artistes. Aruna likens critics to an audience. “Hence, they are free to express
their views,” she feels. “How many will rationalize things the way I do?” asks
Aruna, who has come under intense flak from critics in early days. “The
December music season where close to 3,000 concerts are held across the city of
Chennai will look fine if it is conducted under a single banner. Why can’t we
do it the way the French people conduct their music festival? We must create
the buzz about the December season right from the airport,” she avers.