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Haunting voice that knows no borders

- Soak in the spell of romance as TT Symphony brings Hariharan live in capital for the first time tomorrow

Tuhi re, tuhi re…a generation of romantics has grown up sighing over Arvind Swamy soulfully wooing Manisha Koirala amid waves crashing on the rocks in the film Bombay (1995).

The onscreen ardour would have crashed to smithereens had Swamy’s playback voice not been Hariharan’s.

Ranchi will hear this soul-searing voice live on February 9 at TT Symphony in association with BASIL & VAN VRINDABAN and powered by ERIL. Over 4,000 people are likely to attend the event at Harivansh Tanabhagat Indoor Stadium at Hotwar mega sports complex, where Hariharan, Padma Shri and two-time National-award winner, will make his Ranchi debut.

Music may know no borders, but playback singing is as much about melody as about diction. But when you listen to Hariharan singing Ae hairate ashiqui (Guru, 2007) or Yeh haseen wadiyaan (Roja, 1992), you forget he is a Tamilian.

Yet, the man who enunciates each Urdu word in the ghazal Kash eisa koi manzar hota is also the one singing Nila kaigirathu in Tamil. And yes, he is perhaps the only ghazal singer with a Carnatic music base.

Born in a Tamil Iyer household, Hariharan, now 57, grew up learning Carnatic music from his mother Shrimati Alamelu. But then, somehow he fell in love with ghazals.

“My parents (Shrimati Alamelu and the late H.A.S Mani) gave me my love for music and classical base. Then, I learnt from Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan and Mehdi Hassan. They are my idols,” Hariharan told The Telegraph on Thursday morning.

Busy touring now — “I performed in Patna and Raipur where we received overwhelming response, hopefully we will get bigger response from Ranchi” — Hariharan says his singing comes from the heart.

It is perhaps this heartfelt synergy of melody, emotion and diction — again — that strikes a chord with the audience.

For instance, Hariharan’s personal “all-time favourite” which many of his fans also swear by, “Mujhe phir wahi yaad aane lage hain” is a poem of longing set to music.

Any Urdu shair will vouch for the fact that Hariharan’s perfect, pearly diction makes each word quiver with intensity.

In India, most singers stick to one genre. For this genre-defying singer, purity is all about 24-Carat melody, be it in Carnatic vocals, ghazal, a romantic Bolly number or a fusion track.

This is what keeps Hariharan on the playlist of generations. Swarat Choudhary, assistant professor in the department of physics and computer science of St Xavier’s College, Ranchi, confessed he was waiting for February 9. “I just love him for his melodious voice. He and Ghulam Ali. Hariharan weaves a different spell,” he gushed.

Diehard fan Shiwanshu Das Gupta, an administrative officer at LIC, is coming all the way from Hazaribagh to listen to his favourite singer. “Since my college days, I have been listening to his songs, especially ghazals. His voice is silky-smooth, he has a fabulous classical base and his Urdu is flawless even though he is a Tamilian,” he added.

As his fans look forward to a musical Ranchi evening, what is Hariharan looking forward to? “Haazir, my latest album,” said the singer always haazir in the hearts of his fans.