Some people are born to excel. Mandolin artiste N S Prasad is one such musician who has carved a niche with unparalleled distinction. Born and brought in a family of music lovers, as a child, Prasad could not have asked for anything better. Taking little time to realize their son’s passion, father N R Srinivasa Iyengar and mother Ranganayakamma gave due to encouragement to their son to pursue his interests. Though he started learning veena initially, Prasad, it seems, was destined to become a mandolin player.
A resident of Bengaluru now, Prasad’s early days date back to Mysuru. Though priorities were on studies, Prasad would waste little time to pursue what he liked most. “I was brought in a family of musical ambience. Seeing my aptitude towards music, my parents, my brother and my cousin encouraged me to learn music. I started playing bul-bul tarang at the age of seven. This is how my musical journey started,” Prasad recalls his early days.
Prasad’s brother late N S Muralidhara was a leading flutist. He was a disciple of well-known musician V Deshikachar. “We both started our musical career together and both of worked together in many number film recordings, cassette recordings, TV show and music programmes with almost all leading singers. We have directed fusion albums and light music albums,” Prasad sets the tone of conversation.
Achievement is a relative term and Prasad knows there is no end for someone to achieve more in life. Though he is happy with what he has achieved so far, Prasad says he is trying to improve every day. The profession may have given him name and fame over the years, but Prasad wants to remain humble and keep doing what he loves the most.
- R MURALI
School and college days.
Studied in JSS Primary School, Saraswatipuram, Sharadavilas High School, Marimallappas Junior College, Yuvaraja College, Mysuru. During my school days, I used to compete in almost all musical events. Noticing my talent, my parents made me to learn veena under the guidance of Vidwan V Deshikachar. Simultaneously I was learning mandolin from Ratan kumar (Satyanarayana). By god’s grace I was destined to become a mandolin player.
Something about your parents. What was their role in streamlining your career?
My father N R Srinivasa Iyengar, worked in Treasury Department, my mother Ranganayakamma, housewife (basically a vocalist, not professional) encouraged me to learn music. There was support by my brother N S Rangarajan and cousin H G Narasimhan. After my graduation, there was little opposition from my parents, when I decided to take music as fulltime profession. However, my passion towards music made them to accept my decision.
When did you start learning mandolin? Who was your first teacher?
During the year 1972, I started learning Mandolin . Ratan kumar was my first Guru.
How tough is playing mandolin?
It is easy to play Mandolin, but very difficult to make mastery over the instrument.
Is there a major difference between mandolin and violin?
Certainly. Tuning of both the instruments is same. But violin is a bowing instrument played on the finger board where as mandolin is a strumming instrument played on the fret board.
Violin seems to be more popular than mandolin. Do you think so?
Of course, violin is popular as it is used as an accompanying instrument as well as a solo instrument in Carnatic music. Mandolin was very popular in film industry. Now Mandolin also has gained popularity as a solo instrument. We can never forget the contribution of Vidwan U Srinivas, who made the instrument to gain such popularity. We should also remember the contribution of Ustad Sajjad Hussain, Nazir Sajjad (s/o Sajjad Hussain) who made the instrument so popular with their ever green melodies. We Mysoreans should not forget the Mastero Ratan Kumar and Mysore Ananthaswamy, who made mandolin popular in Mysuru as well as in Karnataka.
Your favourite musicians.
All renowned mandolin players like Ustad Sajjad Hussain and Vidwan U Srinivas are my favourite musicians.
Mysuru as a city of musicians.
Mysore has a rich culture in music. There is a saying “Veeneya sobagidu Mysoru, Veeneya bedagidu Mysoru.” Many world famous Carnatic musicians are from Mysuru. Proud to be a Mysorean.
Does music have a healing touch?
Is music growing in India?
Can music be taken as a profession?
It is possible provided the person has passion, perseverance and dedication.
Kannada Light Music:
Bhaava Geethe: SHRINGARA, BHAVASIRI, SUSHRAVYA etc.
Kannada : AMRUTAPAANA, VENUNADA BAARO, JAGANNATHA VITTALA
Tamil : AYYANAIYYANE, well known and the most sought after vocalist of great repute Unni Menon has rendered the songs in this album. This album has been awarded with the ‘GOLD DISK’.
Malayalam : DIVYASANNIDHI
FUSION ALBUMS :
- KALASANGAM, had a congregation of musicians of International repute from India
- BEGINNING OF BEGINNING featuring Pt. Vishwamohan Bhat
- OMNI PRESENCE
- EARTH, WIND AND FIRE featuring Pt Ronu Majumdar and Vid. Kadrigopalnath
- STRINGS featuring Vid. MS Gopalkrishnan
- IGNIOUS featuring Annada Prasanna Pattanaik (Popularly known as Butto)
- SAX THRILLS featuring Vid. Kadrigopalnath
SOLO ALBUMS: SUR MADHUR, BEYOND BOUNDRIES, ELLELLI NODALI(Hits of
Dr. Rajkumar’s Songs), SERENE MELODIES(Popular Dasara Pada), & RAAGAMALIKA(Hindusthani Classical).
TELE SERIALS: ESHWARA – ALLAH NEENE YELLA, MISS MENAKA, KUSUMA,
MOVIES: NANNA KANASINA HOOVE, MITHAI MANE and CHINNARI MUTTHA, KOTRESHE KANASU (background score for Sri C Aswath’s Music compositions).
MITHAI MANE has won the “Best Children Movie” award by the Karnataka State Government and also screened at Kairo Film Festival with an award.
Apart from performing across India, has also performed extensively in other countries;
- Performed all around the US in 1995 with the renowned Singer and Music Director Sri C Aswath.
- Represented VISWA KANNADA SAMMELANA held at Phoenix- Arizona State in the year 1998. This event was sponsored by the Govt. of Karnataka, India.
- Singapore in the year 2000 along with well known Sugam sangeeth singers Smt. Ratnamala Prakash and Raju Anantha Swamy.
- America in the year 2002 to represent World Konkani Meet.
- Muscat in the year 2006 with his fusion team.
- Bahrain in February and November 2007 with C. Aswath
2008- Banglore Music Acadamy – Best String Player
2009 – Sangeetha Nrithya Acadamy Award “Kalashree”
2010 – Hombale Prathiba Ranga – Kala Kovidha
2010- Gayana Ganga – Swara Samrat
Currently, in addition to music performances and commercial recordings, running a music institution called RAGASHREE MUSIC ACADEMY to impart music knowledge to many budding talents. I am also engaged in conducting music awareness classes and workshops across the state and abroad.