HYDERABAD: Manisha Eerabathini glides across the beautiful location in her new music video in which she sings the cover of Sada Nannu from Mahanati. Released on Sunday, the video has already garnered over two lakh views. It also features Manisha matching the beat with her Bharatanatyam moves. Yes, the US-born young woman is adept at Carnatic and Bharatanatyam as well. Here’s what we find about her ever-juggling life.
Born and raised in California, singer Manisha Erabathini found home when she followed her calling and moved to India four years ago. However, the shift only enhanced her opportunities and led to her traveling back and forth but this time for work. Popular for not just her Telugu chartbusters, but also her mashups online, Manisha is growing in leaps and bounds and is putting that to use for the Telugu music-lovers here and abroad. Though she now calls Hyderabad home, she travels across the country often for the demand she has garnered as a performer.
For someone who grew up in the States to change their lifestyle, career and home suddenly is jarring. Manisha says that was exactly how she felt. “I actually felt a bit of an identity crisis when I moved here. Now I am familiar and accustomed to the Indian lifestyle and culture but I also grew up amidst the western culture. Both these worlds are two ends of the spectrum and despite both of them being a part of me I wasn’t able to put them together and see myself as a whole. As time passed I got comfortable with both these sides of me and learnt to be open to and accept the differences of these cultures that inhabit me,” she explains.
Manisha’s popularity shot up with the 2017 hit, Arere Yekkada from the film Nenu Local which topped the charts in the Telugu states. Although she was exposed to the playback arena since her stint in the reality show Paadutha Teeyaga, it was only after years of hard work that she found a footing. Once she made a name, offers to perform for a live audience grew. “Whether it is here in Hyderabad or in a small-town in Andhra or in the USA, the Telugu audience find a certain appeal towards live music concerts,” she says. The kind of songs that the audience may expect from me might differ in India and the US. For instance, the people in the US attend these concerts as a weekend soiree and want to unwind and relax. So they prefer soothing music, not necessarily melodies but the usual favourites. Audience here on the other hand are there to have a good time. They prefer peppy numbers, the hits; and sing and dance along with you. The energies are different in both the countries but the love for music is the same,” adds the young singer.
Manisha observes that most people who have settled in the States try their best to hold on to their roots and do everything they can to stay connected to home. “As I was growing up, learning Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music or speaking Telugu were all a part of the household. It wasn’t uncommon with the other Indian families that we were friends with. This is their way of making sure their culture isn’t lost despite being miles away from home,” she says.
Preferences of the audiences doesn’t only differ in genre she admits. “Western music is predominantly independent while here it relies heavily on cinema. When I perform for the audience abroad I keep in mind that there is a mix of youngsters, children and first generation NRIs. So I ensure that I drop some English pop or mashups into the set as well so that the younger ones aren’t bored to have been dragged down to watch a Telugu music concert,” she quips.
Event organisers flock to book her dates to perform abroad, particularly the Telugu associations who bring the community together. Having traveled to the US thrice in just one month for singing gigs, Manisha makes an interesting observation. “NRIs here want to hang on to the culture and what reminds them of home which is why these concerts and even festivals are celebrated in grandeur. There are millions of Telugu people in the USA and to keep them entertained with anything that is close to home has opened up opportunities for many artists and there is certainly more where that came from,” she says signing off.
— Srividya Palaparthi