Musical Star Sithara ...

"Most memorable incident was when I sang in front of Yesudas Sir. One of my unfulfilled dreams is to sing at least one song with Das Sir"

Sithara Krishnakumar now popularly known as playback singer Sithara is on a musical expedition involving various styles including Hindustani classical, Carnatic and Gazals.  She was noted for making a niche for herself by rendering songs in different styles which made us wonder whether all these songs in her kitty came from the same source. She has now rendered in all four South Indian languages and is glad to have been part of many good compositions by great composers in a short span of time. Currently she is exulted as her latest song ‘Enundodee’  for the Malayalam movie  Cellulloid  is doing the rounds and her popularity is increasing in the Gazal circuit too. 


Sithara born in Kozhikode, Kerala to Dr. K.M Krishnakumar  &  Saly Krishnakumar, was introduced to the world of music at an early age of four. She did her schooling in St.Pauls High School and Calicut University Campus School. She did her graduation in English Literature from Farook College, and went on to pursue her Master’s Degree from Calicut University, Kerala. She was trained in Carnatic Music by Sri Ramanattukara Sathish and Pala CK Ramachandran. Sithara also received extensive education in Hindustani Classical music from Ustad Fiyaz Khan and Sri Vijayasenan. She is also a classical dancer trained by Kalamandalam Vinodini. She was the winner of several musical talent shows like Asianet Saptha Swarangal (2004), Kairali TV Gandharva Sangeetham (Seniors) and Jeevan TV Voice 2004. She was accoladed with the Kalathilakam title in Calicut University Arts Festival for two consecutive years(2005 and 2006). Sithara has been recognized with several musical awards and nominations including Baburaj Memorial Award for the Best Female Singer in 2002, SwaralayaKairali Yesudas Award in 2004, Mohammed Rafi Memorial Award in 2011 and Kerala State Award for best female singer for Enundodee from the movie Celluloid in 2012. She is married to Dr.M Sajish (Clinical Cardiologist) and is currently residing at Aluva, Kerala.

Excerpts from an Interview with Sithara by the Thiraseela team.

You maintained a balance between dance & singer for quite some time. You were even trained under Kalamandalam Vinodhini in dancing for a long time. Which particular juncture made you realize that you are primarily a singer?

My personal interest is to pursue both dancing & music career. When I started taking part in singing competitions there was an avalanche of TV shows & reality issues. Owing to the popular events & opportunities that is coming my way I am more into playback singing & musical performances.  I was trained in Kuchuppidi & Mohiniyattam and used to perform both art forms in many stages including Guruvaryoor & Nishagandhi.  Even now I am continuing with my dancing career, though for the last one year I have not made any public dance appearance. I ensure to spend time with my dance teacher to always keep my dancing skills alive. Currently since I am trying to explore various styles in music, I am unable to dedicate time for dance.

Any noticeable difference in 4 South Indian languages considering your experience in these industries?

I was initially launched in Malayalam by Alphonse Sir in the movie Athisyan. Then I sang few songs for films in Malayalam. When I got a chance in Tamil for G. V. Prakash Kumar Sir’s recording I was familiarised with the recording studios. I felt like being in the comfort zone when I was recording for Tamil too. My first Kannada song was composed by Ouseppachan Sir. For Kannada & Telugu too, my previous experience in other language rounds in different competitions helped me a lot. With the help of lyricists and assistant music directors we can overcome the initial barrier of not knowing the language in detail. For some recordings the lyricist will explain each word its meaning to enhance the expressions & emotions to be provided.

The song recording or stage performance which made you feel proud?

I can’t say like that about the song which made me feel proud or so. For many songs I have felt a special satisfaction for many songs like the Tamil song for GVP Sir’s and recently rendered song in movie ‘Celluloid’. The song in Celluloid is placed in 1930’s. It’s a perception of the music thought during that time by M.Jayachandran Sir, so it was altogether a new experience. On an optimistic note I would love to believe that whatever happened in my musical journey so far is for good. Regarding betterment I believe it’s always good to have that notion which in turn makes us feel grounded to ensure teh quest for perfection is always there. I was surprised to see that few music directors also give feedback about my live performances.


Have you got the chance to record a song at a single stretch as it used to be in olden times?

In All India Radio (Sithara is a B high grade artist in AIR), we don’t use the punching system for the light music recording. It is indeed good as I get a chance to learn a song from a music teacher with all nuances before recording the song at a single shot. I always ensure that I don’t miss the AIR sessions when I get a chance. In films usually songs are not recorded at a stretch as the complete design of the song will be decided later in most of the cases. We will listen to the songs after full orchestration in a completely new layout most of the times to suit the character of the films.

Live Gazals or playback singing which is the most dearest for you?

In Gazal shows, the audience will be very much aware of the music style and the lyrics. They mostly request good and unique compositions through ‘farmayish’. In Gazals we connect to the audience in a different manner as we have a two way communication. The feedback after Gazal sessions do help me a lot. 


In recording, it’s another world where we try to transform the musical thought by the music director, lyricist and a director to a different form. In film song the execution of a song undergoes many expressions & emotions depending on the situation a film might demand. It’s indeed another great experience. I would like to consider both styles dearer to me.

Considering you attempts to try out various styles of music which requires very wide range of modulation, could you elaborate on the vocal exercise which you follow?

I have been asked this many a times as the songs which I got in movies required a varied range of vocal projections. When we sing in a particular pitch it may sound like our voice is almost similar throughout the song, but when we render songs in different pitches we may feel it’s entirely a different voice source. The songs which sound different is not because we try to sound different in terms of timber, but when we sing a particular piece in an extreme pitch or other scales it may sound different.

In Elsamma Enna Aankutty, the song Kannaram Pothi Pothi was designed in three styles at different parts of the song owing to different musical parameters. When you sing the opening lines it sounded mostly like a male because of the scale/other musical notes on which that piece was set and it was not an intentional attempt to change the voice. My duty was to do justice to the modulations insisted by Rajamani Sir. Many people mistook this song for having rendered by two singers may be because they felt a drastic change between the opening style & the concluding style.

I don’t plan any time slots for practice, but practise during whatever time available on a daily basis. Whenever we are on the move, if we are involved in music by listening or trying to learn its also a mode or practice. Usually I practice Hindustani classical nowadays as I perform its semi-classical version Gazals frequently.

Most memorable incident in your career – something like a dream come true coz of an artist with which you shared a stage?

Most memorable incident was when I sang in front of Yesudas Sir. It was the first time when I met Das Sir. It was during the Baburaj Memorial Award 2001 during an event held at Tagore Hall, I was not notified in advance that I had to sing in front of the legends Das Sir & Janaki Amma for the final round. It was one of the biggest surprises too.  I was fortunate to have received the award from him. While I met him during that event I was on cloud nine when he asked me my name & made a casual chat. After few years when I received Swaralaya Yesudas award from him it was another unforgettable event for me.  One of my unfulfilled dreams is to sing at least one song with Das Sir.

  
You were an active participant in District & University level Youth festivals. Recently for the 2013 State youth festival you were invited as a performer, so could you please share the nostalgic experience?

 It was indeed nostalgic when I was invited as an artist to perform at the Youth fest which was held at Mallappurram district. I represented Mallapuram during all the University festivals. The venue and ambience was very much familiar. It’s indeed a proud moment to perform as a guest for such an event. It was a Gazal performance and this is the place in Kerala where you could find the maximum Gazal lovers. Many teachers were there who have seen me practicing during my school days and they were very happy to see me pursuing a career according to my passion. I met many senior photographers & reporters who have been reporting such events for many years, which was also a cute experience.

Your comments on Reality shows. Nowadays we don’t see many youngsters becoming so popular in the playback singing circuit considering the huge number involved in such reality shows. In your case reality shows had a very positive impact? 

 The reality show is a good platform for the youngsters and for sure all who succeed in those are undoubtedly talented in music.  The journey in playback singing may be dependent on other factors too like getting an opportunity.  Too much in number may be another reason which attributes to the tough competition among the new comers to get the initial pull in the industry. Singers like Najeem who came from reality shows are popular now and getting a good grip in the music industry too. I guess if someone doesn’t get carried away with their success in reality shows, opportunity will surely knock at the right time if they are involved in music with utmost dedication even after the competition.

Looking back to your nurturing stage, what advice will you give to other upcoming artists?

Try to get involved in music with passion. Never get carried away or worried about opportunities in films, as in playback singing it’s not the singers who choose the songs but we are selected or opted by the creators of a song. Currently we have a trend of making three to four singers sing a particular song and narrow down to a particular singer only after the music director listens to those different versions. This recording pattern will be communicated to singers upfront if it is done in this fashion, so singers are getting used to the same.   Another trend in place is where  a singer might be asked to sing all the songs for a particular film and the song which suits the most will be chosen for the singer. I guess there is no point in thinking too much about the songs which you couldn’t sing because of this method, moreover I believe the apt singer should render the right song and this trend moves in that direction.

Support from your family?

Definitely family support is a great boon for an artist. My mother used to find good music teachers when I was five. When I wanted to pursue my studies in music, my parents stood behind me.  Even after marriage the encouragement just increased. My husband is keener than me on ensuring my success as a playback singer. I got maximum opportunity in playback singing after marriage.  


She is currently engaged in performing live shows with other artists and bands too thereby maintaining a good balance between the various styles of musical expression despite her busy schedule.  She finds time to visit her musical masters frequently to seek their blessings.  A special thanks from Thiraseela.com to Sithara for sharing her experiences and thoughts which will be very interesting for the readers.  Hope Sithara as the name suggests be a shining star always and will entertain. All the best and hope you achieve many accolades throughout her musical journey.






Article by
Jeeth Yesudas

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