HYDERABAD: When one of the most sought-after music directors, S Thaman, introduced his lead guitarist Shubashree Jayk at the music launch of Varun Tej’s Ghani, roaring cheers filled the auditorium.
The granddaughter of legendary playback singer Padma Bhushan P Susheela has projects like Bheemla Nayak, Radhe Shyam, and Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, among others, to her credit. The 22-year-old, whose phone hasn’t stopped ringing since, speaks to Rachel Dammala about her music, rubbing shoulders with the greats of Tollywood, wanting to be a music director, and more.
How did you foray into music?
Music has always run in the family for generations now. My grandmother P Susheela was the top singer of her time and I grew up watching her rule the industry. One afternoon, my grandma brought home a guitar, I was eight-nine years old then. I found the instrument very fascinating and started playing around with it. Soon, I was mastering picking and I got better at it.
What has your learning process been like?
Most of it has been self-taught, thanks to the Internet. While I received no formal training in music, I would visit Chennai during my summer vacation. There, I spent a lot of time with Sadasudarsanam gaaru, the lead guitarist of Ilayaraja gaaru. Learning under him is an experience I will hold close to my heart.
Do you play any other instrument and/or sing?
I play the piano too, but not often. I sing occasionally, but that’s about it. Hopefully, I get to master them soon.
How is it working with Thaman?
He is a brand of his own. Working with Thaman sir is bliss! It’s so relaxing, he’s very friendly and down to earth as a boss. It’s no exaggeration when I say it’s like a cakewalk. I had always wanted to work with him since I was very young.
When I’d accompany my grandmother to her concerts, Thaman sir was a drummer. I look up to his music, his hard work, discipline and dedication to his craft. Creating music with him for the past two-and-half years has been surreal.
What do you think of the kind of attention coming your way?
Oh, it’s so humbling. When I first realised that people have been looking me up on the Internet, I couldn’t believe it. It took me a while to process it. People have been nothing but kind and appreciative about me and my work.
Also, I’m awkward in the sense that I don’t know how to react to such fame, but it’s such an honour to get the kind of love my grandma garners. She says she’s proud that I’m carrying the music gene forward and that’s the kind of compliment I fish for.
Who would you say inspires/influences your music?
Many, but if I have to choose one person, it’ll be my grandmother. I was awestruck by her performances when I watched her sing live. How she single-handedly built an empire of her own blows my mind. She still doesn’t realise how huge she actually is, she’s that grounded.
If I could achieve even one per cent of who she is, I’ll count myself blessed. Apart from her, the work of Thaman sir, AR Rahman sir and Anirudh too — they play an integral part in the kind of music I compose today.
What are some of your long-term goals?
Slowly, but steadily, I hope to get into music direction. There’s a lot to learn and greater heights to reach, and I’m absolutely pumped about what is to come.
Your upcoming projects?
I can’t wait for the release of Ghani and Bheemla Nayak. There’s also Enemy, Radhe Shyam, Dharmapuri and Agent in the pipeline. Some really great collaboration offers have been pouring in, I hadn’t had the time in the past, but I hope to do some soon — could be some bands or personal projects too.