Interviewer : Annadurai | Camera : Balaji | Text : Prathap | Video Editor : Jesi
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Singer Karthik talks to on his new avatar as music director for Vasantha Balan’s Aravaan.

How did you get the opportunity to score music for Aravaan?

Vasantha Balan called me up with this offer when I was in London for a program. After I came back, we met and discussed. I was already a fan of Vasantha Balan’s movies Veyil and Angaadi Theru. We talked about Aravaan and agreed upon the script and I knew it would be challenging for me. That is how I scored music for the film.

How did Vasantha Balan know about your music scoring ability?

I have sung for Vasantha Balan’s movies and he came across a few of my jingles I did for Rajeev Menon. He thought I could score music for Aravaan and approached me. We talked a lot and I showed him a few of my tunes and he liked it. We hit it off and we share a lot of things in common; like intuition. That’s how this came about.

Experience working with Vasantha Balan

I was warned by many that it’s tough to work with Vasantha Balan and that he’s a taskmaster, a perfectionist. Yes, I agree he is a taskmaster. But at the end of the day, he inspired me a lot and guided me through a lot of things since this is my first film. To be very honest, I have found a good friend in Vasantha Balan, And for him, works comes first and I like his attitude, which I think is brilliant. I like his dedication, focus and his homework. He’s a very simple man. We share a good rapport and I had a great time.

I was warned by many that it’s

tough to work with Vasantha


Few days into the film, we knew

what should be there and what


Were you apprehensive to take on a period film for your first project?

I accepted the offer without thinking too much of the specific type of work involved in a period project like this. After watching Vasantha Balan doing his homework and research I became aware of the challenges. I tuned for the first song and I understood how different it is to work on a period project. The first song was tuned for about 15 days in Bombay and London. I learnt a lot while tuning that song but by the end of that I became tuned to the project and gained confidence. Vasantha Balan was always there to guide me. Few days into the film, we knew what should be there and what not. From then on, it has been fine.

Did you tune for lyrics or the other way round?

It worked both ways I think. We first develop a fragment of a tune and then go on writing lyrics. But mostly tunes were developed for lyrics, already written and I enjoyed doing it that way. All the songs took some time to evolve. None of the songs, except Nila Nila, will be conventional in the album. We thought it would be interesting to work on it that way.

All the songs took some time to


Challenging song

There are challenges, for instance the song Nagamalai, which is situational. We had to think about how to make the song more interesting and make it apt for the situation without falling into a cliché. Muthukumar’s lyrics were beautiful and we were inspired to do a lot of things for the song. We worked hard for the song and I am sure the results will be good on screen.

Do you find it easy to score for lyrics?

This is my first film and I did not find it any difficult. I will only know about it in my future projects.

What’s your parent’s reaction to your new job?

My parents did not expect me to be a singer, neither did I. But it happened and I thank God for that. And I thank God for this opportunity as well. My parents know I work sincerely and they are very happy about the positive feedback I am getting.

Rahman and Mani sir liked my


Film fraternity’s feedback

Rahman said he liked it and that it has a lot of emotions. Rahman and Mani sir liked my songs. Many directors, actors and other folks from film fraternity gave very positive feedback for the six songs I tuned for the movie. I know I have put my heart and soul for the movie and it feels great to receive such feedback.

Director Shankar’s words at the pooja of the film

Shankar liked the song at the pooja and I am happy about it.

Difference between singing for other music directors and in your own composition

There is only one song in the movie that I sang because it was done in a hurried fashion since we needed a song for the pooja. We couldn’t commission a singer for the song so I sang it myself. I haven’t sung another song for the movie because I did not think the songs in the album would be suitable for my voice. Also, I wanted to be in the music director zone and did not want to get into singing. May be in future projects, I will sing in my own composition.

How did you manage both composing and singing?

Fortunately, I have many friends and well-wishers in the industry and they are all very accommodative. There has been a balance so I won’t say I lost any singing projects, in fact many of my composer friends have waited for me to finish my assignments for my dates. Yes it was difficult since both singing and composing are my passions but I was able to manage both.

How did you bring the period feel in Aravaan with regard to musical instruments?

Since it’s a period film there are not a lot of instruments you can use. So we have avoided a lot of instruments and techniques like electronic sounds, synthesizers, guitars and pianos. We also realized that avoiding the current day music instruments will largely give the music a period feel and that’s how we achieved it.

Would you continue to score music or get back to your singing?

That’s my identity and I enjoy doing it. So there is no question of quitting singing. Composing is a different cup of tea and based on the results, I will decide on my future projects.

Who is your role model in music direction?

I am a Chennaite so I grew up listening to Ilayaraja and Rahman. They are the two pillars of music industry and there are many amazing musicians in Tamil like Vidyasagar and Harris. I have worked with them and learnt a lot from them. I think all of them have contributed to my work in some way or other.

How do you make out whether a song would be a hit or would be liked by youth?

I did not have to think about it in this movie. Since it’s a period film, there are certain limitations but of course the songs will be enjoyed by everyone.

What do you have to say about singers who do not pronounce Thamizh properly?

All the singers I used for this film have sung in beautiful Thamizh and that’s one compliment I get every time for this album. I have only used people who know Thamizh.

Would you give importance to melody or commercial aspects in a song?

Only what is needed for the movie.

Your favorite lyricist and music director

I have worked with almost all the music directors and I have the comfort level. It’s difficult to identify the song whether it’ll be a chartbuster while recording it. So it’s important you develop a rapport with the music director.

Would you foray into languages other than Thamizh for music direction?

Yes, if it’s interesting I will take it up.

There are many new music directors now and you don’t see very many old faces. What is the reason for this?

I think its evolution. Change is inevitable and it’s bound to happen. It happens in all the fields.

Would you remix songs?

Nope, I haven’t thought about it yet. There is no scope for that in this movie so I am saved.

Tags : Karthik, Vasantha Balan, Aravaan, Rahman
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