The Telegraph
Friday , January 11 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pi singer with city roots in Oscar race
- Bombay Jayashri nominated

London, Jan. 10: Bombay Jayashri, the Calcutta-born Carnatic music vocalist, has been nominated for an Oscar for singing the haunting opening song in the film Life of Pi.

Her co-nominee in the category, achievement in music written for motion pictures (original song), announced today, is the Toronto composer Mychael Danna who has been recognised for his original score.

Pi’s Lullaby, which goes over the opening sequences in Life of Pi, is in a competitive field that includes the theme song from the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. Another strong contender is Suddenly from Les MisÚrables.

Jayashri is one of the leading playback singers in Tamil cinema but it has taken her association with Ang Lee, director of Life of Pi, for her talents to be recognised — he has been nominated for best director.

Born in Calcutta into a family of musicians, Jayashri grew up in Bombay but the most important influence was that of violin maestro and guru Lalgudi G. Jayaraman after she had moved to Chennai at the age of 21. In Bombay she was introduced to music and its rigours by her parents, Seetha and N.N. Subramaniam but it was her mother who was a tough task mistress after her father died when she was eight.

Jayashri said in one interview: “No distractions were allowed. It was schooling at St. Antony’s and music at home. I did not read any Amar Chitra Kathas, or know who Tintin was or realise that Mills and Boons were common reading material for teenagers in my circle. Our only indulgence was the radio and we grew up listening to Rafi, Kishore Kumar, Asha and Lata.”

Jayashri may well wonder whether she should dress up for the Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles on February 24.

“My mother still gets worked up about my lack of dressing up skills for the stage,” she once said. “I do not like jewellery and I have stopped buying silk saris. As long as I look neat and tidy, it is my music that should impress my audience.”

Life of Pi has also picked up nominations for best picture, editing, production design, sound editing, sound mixing visual effects and adapted screenplay.