Satish Chakravarthy
Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar | Camera : Rijeesh | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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Muzhu Madhi and Thada Thada from Kanimozhi are climbing up the charts and music director Satish Chakravarthy is one happy man. Having commenced his musical journey under the tutelage of AR Rahman, this soft-spoken metallurgical engineer-turned-musician discusses about Kanimozhi, Rahman and allied musical subjects to Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar.

A brief intro

I am music director Satish Chakravarthy and have composed music for Kanimozhi. I am an engineer by education, having graduated from REC (NIT now) Trichy and studied music in Berklee College of Music in Boston. I am working for the past seven years in Chennai. I have worked under AR Rahman since 2006 in 14-15 films. Then I did a film called Leelai with Aascar Films directed by Andrew Louis. Kanimozhi is my second film produced by Amma Creations T Siva and directed by Sripathi Rangaswamy.

What are the projects that you have worked with ARR?

I started with Sillunnu Oru Kaadhal, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Jodha Akbar and others.

Rahman experience

It was a great experience to have worked with Rahman. He is not only a great musician but also a wonderful human being. Rahman is a great boss. He took me under his wings and mentored me to become a better musician and taught me how to use technology in an artistic way. You don’t get this kind of learning anywhere else. Rahman is also like a friend, philosopher and guide to all those who work with him because he likes to take care of people who work for him. It is his encouragement which has made me an independent music director.

Rahman is a great boss

Success does not affect Rahman

at all

Rahman as a person

I like his humility. He remains grounded always. Success does not affect Rahman at all. He treats all human beings equally irrespective of their backgrounds. I really look upon this quality of Rahman as a person.


Kanimozhi happened because of Amma Creations T Siva who is a close family friend. He has known me since my formative years and has been following my career as a musician. Hence when Kanimozhi happened, he gave me the offer as he liked my work in Leelai and felt I had the potential. He supported me in making all the songs come out very well as he is a very musical producer. He gave me the freedom and there was no budget constraint. Sripathy Rangaswamy, an associate of Venkat Prabhu is the director of Kanimozhi who is also musically inclined and listens to a lot of western classical. Working with such a person was very good as he has brought out the best from me.

How has been the response for Kanimozhi?

The feedback that I have been receiving is very good. Malathy Sundaram of has appreciated my work. I always follow her review as it is very musical because it gets into the technicalities of the music as well. The reviews and responses from people have been very good too. People like Muzhu Madhi and Thada Thada and I am happy.

Did the original Kanimozhi or the CM listen to the songs?

Of course, the audio was released by the CM and he was very appreciative of the songs. The CM gave a very good feedback about Kanimozhi.

What about Kanimozhi?

I am not sure if she listened to the songs.

Have you signed any new projects?

I am yet to sign on new projects. I am talking to people and looking for good scripts.

What are the major influences on your music?

Ilayaraja has always been my inspiration. He is the ideal towards which every music composer should aspire to. I have been brought up on a diet of MS Viswanathan and Ilayaraja sir and they are my musical influences.

Ilayaraja has always been my


How is the music scenario in Kollywood?

I think it is very good as lots of youngsters are coming into the field. Every week, there is a new audio release and there is a new music composer which means there is no dearth of talents. These days, I also get to hear many melodies. I am optimistic about the music scenario in Kollywood.

Remix is a genre of music

What is your take on remixes?

Remix is a genre of music. It would be interesting if it is used correctly. It depends on the script and if the script demands, then we can have remixes. For instance, Bala sir’s Pithamagan, where there was a medley of sorts of old songs (involving Suriya and Simran) which provided a light-hearted relief to an otherwise serious film. You could call this as a remix but it was well-handled by the director that it played a dramatic function in the film. I feel remix, if dealt well by a director, could be very positive for the film.

Music for lyrics or lyrics for music?

Well, it can be done both ways provided you don’t know which was first created when you listen to. That’s the only requirement of the creators. The audience should not be able to perceive that tunes were set for the lyrics and vice versa.

On Rap

I like the genre of rap very much. Rap has been there in our culture from a very long time. Western society is using rap because it is rhythmically very inspiring and interesting. Rap is an amazing art form and it is not easy for anyone to do a rap. To say something in rhyme and meter is not an easy work. Rap works very well in Indian music as rhythms in Indian music are very complex. And as rap rhythms are also very complex, it jells well with Indian music. If it is used correctly, it is amazing.

Rap is an amazing art form

On sounds masking the lyrics in modern music

If technology is not used properly, it could result in sounds masking the lyrics. What I have always admired in Rahman’s music even though it is the benchmark for modern music, technology wise, voice will always be in the forefront. He ensures that voices are not drowned in his arrangement in all his works. When the lyrics are not understandable, it is because of the singers who are not native speakers of the language. Rahman always gives importance to the voice which carries the melody. In Harris Jeyaraj’s music too, there will not be any disturbance to the voice at all. Whenever technology is used appropriately, it results in good clarity.

Gautham had really used them

well on screen

Favorite albums in the recent times

I liked Raavan very much which was musically very interesting and challenging. I could perceive Rahman’s Hollywood experiences in it. The manner in which Hollywood approaches a score; Rahman has also approached the structure of the song very openly. I also liked Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaaya which had a musical theatre feel. The songs did not fall into the pattern of pallavi, saranam and Rahman had handled the melody without these structures which was interesting. Gautham had really used them well on screen. It is a very difficult thing to do but they have pulled it off very well.

Favorite singers from current crop

Shreya Ghosal stands out. She is extremely talented and grasps the nuances of the music in a jiffy and delivers much better than what the music director envisages just like SPB sir. In the male voice, I like Karthik who is again very talented and does justice to every song. Shreya Ghosal and Karthik stand apart.

Shreya Ghosal and Karthik stand


Creating music is a gratifying


You sing, write lyrics and compose music. Which do you like the best?

Well, as regards me, it is all a part of the same job, expressing music. I enjoy all the three. However I am always partial to creating music. Creating music is a gratifying experience.

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