CHENNAI: Besides her love for music, for singer Aishwarya Srinivas, a more significant reason to having chosen singing as her career was to do justice to her guru D K Pattammal. “There are times when Pattammal would tell me how she wanted to learn from a certain guru but he or she was not willing to teach. Since I had the opportunity to learn from someone as great as her, I wanted to do justice to it,” says Aishwarya, who studied under the music giant for 13 years.
Even today, nearly five years after Pattammal passed away in 2009, she remembers vividly the days back then when she would visit her guru to seek blessings, and the light conversations that would ensue. “I used to visit her before and after the concert. She would look at my attire and accessories, and say with a smile that I should work towards becoming an established artiste and get nice jewellery,” recalls Aishwarya with a smile. “It was not just music that I learnt from her, it was the way of life, her grit and hard work. She used to consider one of the most proficient musicians Kanchipuram Nayana Pillai as her guru back then, and aimed at singing the complicated pallavis like he did,” adds the CA and Certified Information Systems Auditor graduate.
Just like Pattammal, who had a very humble start, with no musical background, even Aishwarya is the first in her family to take up music as a profession. When she was just three, she started training under Vaigal Gnanaskandan. “One day, he said to my mother that I had a spark and should start giving concerts,” she recalls. During her first concert with accompanists at the age of 12, her father invited Pattammal as the chief guest. Though she could not make it to the venue, she called the little Aishwarya home and asked her to sing a song. “That’s the first time I met her. When I finished singing, she just said this — ‘I will teach you,” says Aishwarya. Thus began the guru-shishya relationship between the two.
“One of the important things that I have learnt from her is the aspect of bhakti. She would never give up on the traditional aspect of music. It was part of her system. She used to say that bhakti was that invisible element of music which people would relate to,” says Aishwarya, who has given over 700 performances. It is probably because of that, she says, that whenever she sings Pattamal’s songs like Aaduvome, Valli Kanavan Perai or Poonkuyil Koovum, she gets an amazing response from the audience. “She taught me that an artiste is not just an artiste on stage but even otherwise. Every word of hers was a lesson,” she says.
Aishwarya will be performing at Tamil Isai Sangam today.