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An artiste’s job is to resurrect interest in classicism, feels Carnatic vocalist Prasanna Venkatraman
CHENNAI, December 27: A concert is by and large an entertainment and revolves around satisfying fans. But a singer has to make his or her recital attractive within the Carnatic music idiom, asserts 27-year-old upcoming vocalist Prasanna Venkatraman.

In an interactive session with Deccan Chronicle at the Rasam Restaurant here on December 24, Prasanna said, "one should sing with lots of sensitivity, especially the Thyagaraja kritis.’’ In a free-wheeling chat, he said Carnatic music "should sound good and appeal to a sensitive person.’’ He was convinced that "classicism has a space and will have ears’’ even in this modern fast-paced life. "An artiste’s job is to resurrect the interest in classicism,’’ he felt. Prasanna was of the view that Carnatic music "will always have a niche audience. There will always be a group which will want classicism.’’ According to him, the best way would be to perform widely in small and large towns.

In this context, he pointed out that everybody in Kerala had the listening sense and held Carnatic music with reverence.

To a question, Prasanna said, "your approach to music should be sincere and explore it only in that way.’’ For a performing professional like him, Carnatic music, he said, "has been a great source of happiness and brought a sense of fulfillment.’’

Prasanna has a B-Tech from Bombay University, M-Tech from IIT Madras and a plum job with chip-maker Atheros. Though, he couldn’t have asked for anything better at his age, Prasanna Venkatraman decided to embark on a journey to bliss. After 15-years of learning under Mumbai-based T.R. Balamani, a music teacher par excellence, he landed in Chennai one fine day way back in 2005 to commence his quest for scaling new musical peaks. Life had turned hectic since then, as he tried to balance work with passion. "Life does get hectic and demanding,’’ he admitted. "You have to tailor your time the way you want,’’ he reasoned. The flexi-work culture in office, he said, was largely helpful in pursuing his passion for music.

Like his academic background, his musical learning too was rich. "The foundation was laid by Teacher Balamani. She taught me all the difficult aspects of music,’’ Prasanna pointed out. He moved on to learn from veteran T.K. Govinda Rao too. Since Rao also is from Musiri, Prasanna had not found too many conflicts in learning from him. Rao had been a great guide and helped Prasanna to fine-tune his music. "He is instrumental in my understanding lots of little nuances in singing,’’ Prasanna said. Besides Balamani and Rao, Sanjay Subrahmanyan is also his teacher. "He (Sanjay) is a role model for me,’’ declared Prasanna. A chartered accountant, Sanjay the performing artiste had been an inspiration for Prasanna. What is so fascinating about Sanjay? Well, Prasanna `idolizes’ Sanjay the singer for the way "he does everything in music’’. Carnatic music to him "is a combination of meditation and profession’’. Nevertheless, he said he was consumed by a passion for this art. Given a choice to choose between his job and music, what will he pick? "There is no question of giving up music,’’ Prasanna blurted out without hesitating a moment.

His maiden concert was at Shastri Hall way back in 2002 with violinist Kanyakumari on the MLV (M.L. Vasanthakumari) Day. Since then, he never looked back. It has been a forward journey only for him. "All worked out very well. One thing led to the other,’’ pointed out Prasanna. Why does he give concert? "I go there to achieve certain thing musically. Every concert is to achieve something,’’ he said. For him, "compositions are important and form the fulcrum of Carnatic music.’’ While the Trinity was his favorite, he said, he admired Papanasam Sivan very much. Does he have any plan to get into tinsel world? "I think I will be better off dedicating most of my time to Carnatic music,’’ he asserted. Though he discussed with his mother, a veena student of T.N. Seshagopalan, and took her inputs, Prasanna felt "concert intelligence develops over a period of time.’’