CHENNAI: Punya Srinivas has many passions — concert hopping this Margazhi, a love for kriya yoga and from the looks of one of the song titles on her new album (Friend Request)...we’re guessing Facebook is on the list as well. But have a conversation with her about her beloved veena, and she’s on a mission: to take the instrument to new frontiers with a wider audience.
At the launch of her second album of veena experiments — Sound of Swan — released by Purple Note — the artiste says, “We wanted to keep it as simple as possible so as to be more relatable to the different kinds of people.” And after hearing a preview of the album’s Dance With Bach at the event in SPI Cinemas recently, and watching not one or two, but 25 different musicians and programmers who were part of the album, head up on stage for a memento — we wonder if this is simple for Punya, what is complex?
It’s easy to assume that the success of her last album Veena in Vienna, paved the way to this one. So Punya surprises us when she reveals, “I got so many film offers after Veena in Vienna, all of which I turned down.” According to this musician, the logic is, “Why play in a field that has more than sufficient veena players?” After all, her goal is to take the instrument to a global stage, one where a majority of the audience has presumably, never watched a Tamil film before!
“For now when people call me or our band Panchajanyam to perform, we play our music anywhere from weddings to inaugural functions,” she relates. And this humility that goes hand in hand with taking the veena to fresh ears comes after sharing the stage with names as big as Zakir Hussain and the late Mandolin Srinivas. “Look at it this way,” she readies her argument for purists who disapprove of her ideas. “Why wear just a Carnatic garland, when you can add a beautiful Western classical rose as well?”
From Punya, who blows us away with the pluck of a string, we would be grateful even for a mallipoo.