Singer Srinivas might be a well-known name, with decades of experience behind the mic, but there’s still unbridled enthusiasm as we begin to talk about his recently launched single, ‘Nenjil Oru Vannam’. The song which has been composed and sung by Srinivas, with lyrics by Pa Vijay, has fetched more than sixty thousand views within a week of its launch. “I wanted to do a song about colours,” begins Srinivas. And that took him to Nippon Paints, which was happy to collaborate for the music video. “They liked the song, but a lot of brainstorming for the video ensued.
There were several ideas that the director put forward, but I was particular that there be a message. Something emotional...” And over a few months, the idea of a girl child finding her dreams took shape. “This is actually the story of my life,” remarks Srinivas, adding that though he was singing from childhood, his life took several twists and turns before he landed up in a recording studio. ”I was lucky in a way that I had the drive to say, ‘Let’s do it no matter what.’ But many people don’t have that, and they don’t get much encouragement as well.”
The indie space isn’t new to the Minsara Kanna singer. Almost two decades earlier, he came up with the then-famous ‘Ussele Ussele.’ And there was Adadadadadaa Kadhaippoma in 2016, and a later, a single for Doopaado. The Tamil indie space isn’t organised yet, but it doesn’t perturb him. “You can put your work out there, something unheard of twenty years back. Thirty years back, it was so tough to even enter the industry. Now, the doors have been thrown open.” And he urges everyone who aspires to be in the music industry to do so as well, without worrying about getting lost in the sea. “Yes, if SPB releases a single, it will naturally attract even more eyeballs. If it is ARR, even more so. But we can’t all think like that.”
The focus, he believes, should be on creating original content. “Right now, covers are dominating this space. Even if you do a great cover of an ARR song or a Raja song, it is still someone else’s song. Andha pugazh andha original composer ku than poi serrum.” He quickly adds that while covers aren’t to be thought of as lesser content, original content provides higher gratification. It is something he urges his daughter also to pursue. “I want all playback singers, the old and new, to create their music and not just wait for a call from a music director for that big film. This means that in the next five years, you have a collection of songs that maybe will spark off some organisation.
” In the long term, he reasons that good music will get its due. “Even those days, I dabbled with indie music because I have always wanted to create my music. More than how much exposure it gets, or the money it makes, it offers creative satisfaction. If others like it, great. If not, we can always do better.”
It isn’t that easy to create a niche for a singer even in the mainstream, with all the competition. “It is the reality. Technology drives the world. It’s not just about the music industry. Anyone who isn’t tech-friendly will stop being relevant.”
He further adds, “It might have been a satisfying feeling back then, during a time not guided as much by technology, but it doesn’t mean that there existed no comparative talent. Other singers may not have got that big break. Today, more people are getting opportunities.”Over the years, Srinivas has dabbled in several areas — recording, performing, composing, judging reality shows and more. But the excitement he gets in singing a new composition hasn’t reduced, he says. “Whether it is for a veteran composer or an amateur, singing a new composition is always a great experience. Singing those 12 notes is one of the most beautiful things you can experience.”
And his days with newcomers, as a judge/mentor, have been a revelation, he shares. “I thoroughly enjoy seeing how they perceive music, and also in giving insights to them.” The singer is also active on social media, with his comments at times considered to be controversial. “It is a democratic space and everyone is entitled to their opinion. The government has to be at the common man’s service. Right or wrong, one needs to be vocal about their opinions.” All this activity does result in criticism, and occasionally, trolling. “I try not to say anything that invokes hate, but anything can spark hate these days. All the negativity is now in the open. But slowly, social media will become better, I think. As long as you don’t abuse someone and say opinions with respect, it should be okay, even if it is against authority.“
Up next, he is coming up with a song to act as a tribute to everyone who has helped in his journey. He’s also considering exploring politics through art. He reminisces on a song he did years ago, called Yeh Duniya Sabki. “I should probably re-release that now. It may be a bit cliched, but is still relevant,” he says, laughing. “If you feel strongly about something, you should do something about it. Perhaps I will follow my advice, and get into this space.”