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Playback man's private trip

Shreeni gave up a lucrative career in dyestuffs to turn playback singer. In this exclusive interview, he talks about his new pop album

Srinivas, south Indian cinemaís new playback singer, has just released his first non-film album. Itís called Paarvai in Tamil, and Yeh Duniya Sabki in Hindi. ''I was getting reasonably established as a playback singer, when I decided I should project the real me, good or bad,'' he told The Music Magazine. 'Real me' meant he would write his own words and make tunes that suited his voice and range.

I heard the tape in Hindi (Magnasound, Rs 50), and found that it had all the pluses and minuses of a first album. Shreeni, as Srinivas is popularly known (you can visit his website at www.shreeni.com), has done a neat-sounding album, but you get the feeling that he is still a bit unsure about how to create his own composing and singing style. You feel a strong influence of Hariharan in his singing. The best song is Yeh dooriyan, which has shades of Puriya Dhanasri and Hamsanandi painted on a rap-style beat.

''My conscious influences are a strange mix of Mehdi Hassan, Kishore Kumar, R D Burman and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer,'' he explains. ''And of course Hariharan and Yesudas''.

Shreeni has learnt Karnatak music from aunt Padma Narayanan, but, he says, ''the motive was to win prizes in school and college.''

He answered more questions:

Would you agree that your song in Taj Mahal (Sotta sotta) is your best so far although it did not become wildly popular?

It was a great song but I only wish it was in a lower shruti. I had to touch B flat and I was uncomfortable singing that note. Of course the song would have been a bigger hit if the movie had been a hit. That is the tragedy in films. I would rate my song in Rakshagan better for the simple fact that it was composed for my vocal range.

In one of your inteviews you talk about slow music.

It is slow music that stays forever. Fast tunes dissapear as fast as they come. This is my opinion.

Are you comfortable in Hindi?

I am quite comfortable, and that is because I was a mad fan of Kishore Kumar in school and college, and was absolutely mesmerised by Mehdi Hassan later. Moreover I've learnt Hindi and have lived in Bombay and Ahmedabad for five years.

Which composers do you vibe with best?

Rahman, Vidyasagar and Bharadwaj. I enjoyed singing Aao sune for Jatin-Lalit in Raja Ko Rani Se Pyar Ho Gaya. I donít know if you have heard of Sharath, an absolutely brilliant music director. He understands my voice and style best. I am a mad fan of Ilaiyaraja, but singing for him is not an enjoyable experience.

Do you plan to work fulltime in films or would you like to do private albums from time to time?

I used to work for a textile dyestuffs company till 1997 and am now into music totally. I somehow mustered the courage to chuck a lucrative job and am very happy with music. I would definitely like to do albums in the future, but films are my bread and butter.

How do you relate to classical music and which singers do you admire?

I admire too many classical musicians -- to me they are far more blessed by God... Semmangudi, KVN, Kumar Gandharva, Bhimsen Joshi to name a few.

Smriti Ananth

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