Joining the big league

Ganesh Sundaram

Unlike Shreya Ghoshal or Najeeb, singer Ganesh Sundaram of Tripunithura could not take the elevator called reality TV.

He had to go step by step in his journey as a light music exponent. And it took him 20 years for people to recognise him as a playback singer, thanks to a hit number from the film Violin, composed by current sensation Bijibal and some other film songs.

“These are not my best songs as I have sung many that I consider better. But there is no other stream like film music that is close to people’s hearts,” says Ganesh, who has been learning Carnatic music since he was nine and is a disciple of the late S.K. Subramanyan. Himakanamaniyumee, from the film Violin, is already on people’s lips.

“Yes, people have started recognising me now. Look, Neyyattinkara Vasudevan was such an accomplished singer but only after he sang Paramapurusha in a movie did many people know about him.” In Bombay March 12, he sang along with Sonu Nigam in one song.

He may not have made it big till now but he has done about 800 albums so far, earning a name as a devotional singer. “I am still learning classical music but from the beginning I was clear that I wanted to sing light music,” he says.

After winning in youth festivals, he got opportunities to record songs for devotional albums. A song about Chottanikkara Devi, Amme Narayana, turned out to be a huge hit and perhaps this is what gave him the stamp of a devotional singer.

He has also been singing in gana melas. “But I did not imitate any particular singer. Of course, there must be the influence of great singers like Yesudas and Jayachandran and I consider them to be my gurus.”

It has been a tough journey so far for the commerce graduate, who toyed many times with the idea of taking up a job to make ends meet, especially during times of financial crisis. But he has remained a full-time singer, while his wife does a day job. “In the past, I knocked at the doors of many music directors without success,” he says.

Now that he has tasted success, what does he think is the mantra of success? “You need luck and also a godfather. Ability is required but I wouldn’t say that is the most important factor,” says Ganesh.

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