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Defining moment for Aruna Sairam

Posted on 14/12/2018 in The Hindu

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  • Defining moment for Aruna Sairam

    By: Chitra Mahesh

    According to Aruna Sairam, the Sangita Kalanidhi award is the culmination of years of hard work

    Getting the Sangita Kalanidhi, a coveted title from the Madras Music Academy, is for Aruna Sairam the culmination of a long journey filled with memories, great struggles and worthwhile moments. Watching stalwarts rise to glory, she often wondered whether she would ever become like that? This became an inspiration, which has seen her blossom into a multi-faceted musician, who is going to chair the sessions and perform at the Academy, from December 15, when the music festival and conference begin. The award will be conferred on her on January 1, 2019, at the Sadas.

    Having been with music from a very small age, all her parents taught her was to love it. “Not necessarily aspire to do anything else with it. They didn’t expect me to perform all the time, nor did they push me into taking this up full-time.”

    Her music career started relatively late, but passion and hard work saw to it that she carved a niche for herself. “The Sangita Kalanidhi award is important because this is one of earliest of its kind created by an organisation, which is a pioneer in the field,” says Aruna. “The nominee is chosen after much deliberation. While I was not expecting it, I definitely wanted it. When the announcement came, I was pleasantly surprised.’’

    The award brings with it work and responsibility. “I will be formally inducted into the proceedings and I will be required to give a speech. There are sessions one would be required to chair.”

    According to Aruna, every award comes as a validation for the artiste, who starts with renewed vigour. She goes back to her childhood to explain: “I remember an incident when as a child my father would want me to walk. I expected him to carry me. We would set off early in the day and he would egg me on saying ‘I will buy you a cup of hot Iranian chai.’ And that chai was a treat, because we would only be given milk at home. After a few steps, I would sit down. He would encourage me to walk a bit more. It would go on until we reached our destination. Awards are like that. They help us to march towards excellence. When you look back, you realise that you got bogged down several times but rose and carried on with such validations.’’

    Of course, one does not start singing with awards in mind. “That is completely self-defeating. It is important to only concentrate on the art. To be able to sing is in itself an award and a reward. How many can get up there and perform? You have to be a chosen one to be able to render even a half-hour concert. How well you do your job is so important. And how the audience finds a connect is extremely crucial to your growth. A musician is able to flourish and flower as long as they are not conscious of what they can do. The minute you become conscious of this great power given to you, it is like you are lost on the path. The audience immediately knows this and will withdraw. The sunflower is not conscious that it is blooming?”’

    She recalls how her guru, Brindamma would say: “‘When you learn, you imagine that you know something. But when you perform, do so like a king.’ And I don’t mean arrogance, but with confidence and honesty. M.S. Amma would always say ‘I don’t know anything.’ Which is why she sounded so fresh every time she sang. The great Ariyakudi, on the day of a kutcheri, would be found pacing. It is not nervousness, but concentration, a state where only music and nothing else matters.”

    At this point of time, Aruna Sairam is thinking of her gurus and parents. “As a child I walked down the passages of the Music Academy, never imagining that one day I would become a concert musician. I cannot be grateful enough for all this. My career happened when I decided to do something about it. I got a lot of support from my husband and in-laws, who gave me the impetus and space to pursue my dreams. I might have been the unlikeliest of persons to be able to do this. But I have been accepted very warmly and this award is a dream come true.”


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