|The following article was first published in Take 1 Magazine.TAKE: 1 is a quality film and celebrity magazine for malayalam speaking NRIs in the Gulf and beyond. The intention is simple: To bring to this market a world class magazine – not just the best keralite or Indian film magazine,but one that can stand head high amongst best from US and Europe. Please click here to go to Magazine website.
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Few years back, a musical programme was happening in the Gulf. Even though all the prominent Malayalam singers were there, the audience was quite different. Melodious songs had no place in that venue and people wanted only popular foot tapping numbers. “It was really sad. All of us were disappointed and were sitting in back stage when a formally dressed man came to me. Even though he looked familar, I could not understand who he was”. “I am Ghulam Ali’s brother”, he said. “Which Ghulam Ali”, I wondered. It was the younger brother of the world famous Pakistani Ghazal singer Ghulam Ali. I got up from my chair. “You are a blessed singer. Saraswati is there in your tongue. God bless you”, he said.
“I could not believe it. Ghulam Ali’s brother, right in front of me”. I touched his feet. Sometimes when you are depressed and started hating your profession, a stranger comes in and motivates you. Gayatri still remembers this incident.
Gayatri is always busy. Whenever we call for an interview she is traveling. “Maybe I am one of the most traveled people around. My journeys are always adventurous. While most girls my age live a protected life, I left home five years back and went to Pune. I stayed alone and learned Hindustani. For musical programmes I have traveled in India and abroad. For Art of Living, I have traveled to Kolkatta, Rishikesh and Mumbai. Mine is a very individualistic life. It is going to be like that only in the future also”. Gayatri has the support of her husband Dr. Sayij for this journey. “After marriage I have become more involved in music”.
Few months back there was a programme in the National Council for Performing Arts in Mumbai. Usually it is a venue for western classical music and only famous people like Pandit Chaurasya have been invited to perform there. For the first time a Malayali sang Hindustani there and it was Gayatri. “It was a contest and the audience were some of the richest people in Mumbai. It was a unique experience and I felt fortunate even to sit there”. Gayatri’s philosophy has been to live with an open mind. No one puts any restrictions on her freedom.
Gayatri is the daughter of the two doctors from Thrissur – Asokan and Sunidhi. They paid lot of attention to see that she did not slip away from the musical path. “Like everyone else I also wanted to be an engineer or doctor and my parents did not like the idea. Around the time of the entrance I got a fracture in my hand and could not write the exam. I decided to write the medicine entrance the next year”. Seeing the talent in their daughter, the parents were forcing Gayatri to go with music. Anyone can be an Engineer or Doctor, but..
Finally the parents got the wish fullfilled and the daughter took to music. “While studying for B.A., I met lot of good singers. Philip Francis, who was a Hindustani tabalist, Dr. Chandra Pisharody, who was a music lover.. it was their encouragement that took me to Hindustani. I started listening to Ghazals and learned from Ramesh Narayanan Sir. The I went to Pune and learned from Alka Deva Marurkar in gurukulam style”
Part 2 of this conversation will be published tomorrow