There is no short cut to success. It is an old jargon that people use it quite often. One’s success story is all about perseverance, commitment and more importantly, the will to make a name. Music is one playing field not many can dare to enter. Only those who are talented and gifted have a place in the world of music.
Talent, it seems, does not need a trumpet. It speaks for itself. Yes, it has come true in the case of Sunitha Chandrakumar. As a singer, composer and a teacher in the last two decades or so, she has seen it all, done it all to carve a niche. But she is not the one to crave for attention. She would rather allow her work do the talking.
Born in a disciplined family, parents Ananthakrishna Bhat and Sumathi Bhat would always encourage their children do what they liked. Sunitha proudly recalls those early years when they used to sing bhajans and hymns which used to be the order of the day. That he was very enthusiastic about various art forms, Ananthakrishna would take his children to concerts, dramas and programmes. “I got most of my characters from my parents. They were both very disciplined and organised. My father passed away when I was young and my mother was the one who taught me the values and guided me through all difficulties,” she says, while recalling her early days.
When you quiz her about her childhood days, an enthusiastic Sunitha reveals she could not have asked for anything better. “I was born and brought up in a joint family. There were as many as six kids of the same age group running around the house full of energy. Come Sundays, all of us including friends from the same locality would head to Manuvana Park with 25 paisa to munch on something on the way back. On other days, as soon as school ended, the whole gang would meet up to play old school games like marakothi, chinnidaandu, chaarpatthar, lagori and keredada. All memories still remain dear to me,” she reminisces.
Sunitha’s musical journey began when she was in school. She won her first-ever prize for her bhavageethe at a state-level competition. According to her, this is the time her life took a decisive turn. That she has won many awards over the years are just a testimony to her immense potential. A tall figure in her domain, Sunitha says there is no end to achievement. ‘The more you achieve, the more is left,’ is her line of thought.
Schooling and college?
I did my schooling from JSS institutions, Mysore and attended Central Institute of Home Science, Bangalore where I got my BA Home Science (Economics, Psychology, Home Science) degree in 1990.
When did your musical journey begin?
It all began when I sang a bhavageethe taught by my school teacher Subbarathna and won first prize at a state level competition. I later joined Carnatic music classes in addition to Bharathanatyam dance classes.
Who was your first guru?
Vidushi Vijayalakshmi was my classical teacher and my first guru.
When did you get the big break as a musician?
There was no such thing as a big break in my career. It all came together progressively over time.
As a singer, how many songs have you recorded? Have you sung for a movie?
I have approximately recorded 30 songs till date. I have received offers to sing for movies from the time I released my first folk album ‘Chelvi’ but I turned them down due to various reasons.
You have also composed songs. How many have you composed?
I have composed more than 250 songs from different genre out of which many have been recorded in the 14 CD’s which have been released over the years.
How long you have been in the field?
I started learning light music in 1992 and continued for a period of 12 years and in the year 2000, I started taking classes in Mandya. The classes here in Mysuru started in 2002 and my first CD was released in 2005 but I became a composer in 2006 with ‘Chitta Chittra’ (Bhaavagethe) and ‘Banda Budubudikanna’ (Children songs).
Most memorable moment in your life?
The response and success I got for the first annual program in Mandya was very overwhelming. This showed that I could make an impact in this field and this has been the most memorable moment in my music life.
Any forgettable moment?
None! I don’t regret anything that has happened throughout my career as it has always been a lesson towards something better.
Your favorite singers (classical and others).
Classical: M S Subbalakshmi, T M Krishna, Kaushiki Chakkraborty. Sugamsangeet: H R Leelavathy, Mysore Ananthaswamy, Raju Ananthaswamy. Cinema: Kishore Kumar, Asha Bosle, P B Srinivas, P Susheela, S P Balasubramanyam and Chitra.
What do you think of present breed of singers?
I think they are very talented, ambitious and quick learners, but want everything instantly without much effort. There are also not many singers who are committed to the language in which they sing.
Does Music have a healing touch?
I feel it does. The expression of the lyrics through music and vice versa will always have an effect on the mind and can affect it in a positive way.
Born and brought up in Mysuru, what is your take on the heritage city?
No words can express the feelings I have towards Mysuru. It has given everything to me and it will always bring a smile on my face.
Tell us something about Raghuleela School of Music? What are the exact activities?
In 2003, as a mark of respect to my beloved gurus H. R. Leelavathi and S G Raghuram, I founded the Raghuleela School of Music (RLSM). Ever since then, there’s no looking back. Each passing year, RLSM has been showcasing exemplary talent at their annual thematic programs and quarterly programs which have enthralled the audiences all over.
Any outstanding students?
I have over 150 students. A couple of them have achieved at various places.
Shreya K Bhat and Pratham Bhat have won the popular ‘Ede ThumbiHaaduvenu’ reality show. Rakshitha Suresh was the winner of the Suvarna Star Singer in the junior category and has made a name for herself in Star Vijay (tamil). She has also sung for Ilayaraja in a telugu movie. Vasudha Shastri has won the ‘Voice of Karnataka’ award. Radhika Bhat sings along with artist Vijay Prakash in his shows.
Many of the students have sung for various albums and around 15 of them are graded AIR artists.
How do you look at success and failure?
I take both of them in the same way. Whenever success comes my way, I am not overjoyed and not carried away by it. And failure does not make me sad or dejected as it’s only a stepping stone towards the right direction.
What are your future plans?
I hope I can earn a good name as a teacher and composer, and that all my students have a bright future in music. I wish I get an opportunity to provide music for cinema and I also want to start my own musical band in future.
Sunitha as a person?
I am a person who always aims and works towards perfection and I also expect respect from the person who I respect. I also believe that hard work is required for anything to succeed. Any work I do, I put in maximum effort and I show interest in everything I do. Self-confidence is my strength and I always believe in myself and the quality of my work. People have always shown love, respect and affection towards me because of whom what I am today.