Interview with M G Sreekumar

How do you feel after receiving the National Award for a second time?
To be honest, I now wish that I hadn’t got this award. It is ten years since I even received a State Award, though I sang many good songs. Last year I had sung classical songs like Samayam ithapoorva sayaahnam and Avani ponoonjaal , but was not even considered for a State Award. Anyhow, I feel a proper judgement is shown in the case of National Awards.

What is your opinion regarding the controversies shrouding awards?
I don’t agree with the way State Awards are decided because in recent times even duets are being considered for awards. I strongly feel that the individual capacity of a singer can be judged only from solo songs. Also, I feel, there is a sort of partiality as far as State Awards are concerned. Private awards on the other hand are governed by personal interests and prejudices. So, I feel awards have lost credibility. I am also peeved at the remarks by veterans like Devarajan master that the songs of today, mostly the ones that I have sung, are copies of earlier songs. We should remember that out of the 72 ragas in music, only 8 or 9 ragas are used for composing film songs. So, whether it is the first generation music directors like Devarajan and Dakshinamoorthy or the new generation music directors like Ravindran, Johnson and Ousepachan, everyone depends on these ragas for tuning. This gives the impression that some new songs bear resemblance to the old songs.

What is the secret of the immense popularity enjoyed by you vis-à-vis other singers of your generation?
I feel there are certain prerequisites for playback singing in films and I have perhaps mastered the trick. The main thing is, of course, talent. Then comes dedication and sincerity to one’s profession. The most important factor however, is luck, which seems to have favoured me all the time.

So, what exactly is that trick? Could you elaborate? 
It comes with experience. A singer, from his experience to some extent, can judge the pulse of the audience and improvise while singing. I have tried that and have succeeded to a large extent (He illustrates his point by singing the award winning song Chaandu pottum by shifting the stress to various places).

How was the experience of singing in other languages like Tamil, Telugu and Hindi?
as the language itself isn’t that easy for me. Then, of course, I feel there are certain prejudices in the north towards singers from the south. Anyway, I am more at ease singing in my own tongue and am very busy here as well. I have always felt that the open vowels in Hindi and Tamil give scope for singing in different ways. Our language anyhow is a closed one and difficult at that.

You have rendered different sorts of songs — classical, light melodies and fast-paced ones. Which among these do you love the most?
Undoubtedly, I love classical music as that gives me the utmost satisfaction. I feel that classical music always surpasses all other forms of music.

As an ardent admirer of classical music what, in your opinion, is the future of classical music?
Classical music is here to stay forever. There may be different trends as far as film music is concerned, but classical music can never change. It is eternal and has an intimate relationship with our life. So it is going to stay in spite of all the changing trends.

What is your opinion regarding the future of film songs?
There has been a lot of change recently. Youngsters are showing an inclination towards Hindi and Tamil songs rather than Malayalam songs. And we are forced to cater to their tastes and needs, which is to a certain extent affecting the quality of our film songs. Anyhow, I sincerely believe that there is going to be a change for the better in the future..

What is your ultimate dream as a singer?
As of now, I have only one dream – to get the National Award a third time too.

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