# Adapted from The Hindu article after the National Film awards
# for 1995 were announced. Unnikrishnan got the best male
# singer award for the song "Ennavale Adi Ennavale" from the
# movie "Kathalan".
Unnikrishnan had not fully recovered from the jet lag for
only hours before the interview, he had returned from the U.S.
The news of his being the recipient of the national award was p73
conveyed to him when he was in the U.S. Soft spoken Unnikrishnan
started singing at the age of six. ``I used to put the talam
correctly at a tender age of three itself and at six, I started
singing devotional songs. My first guru was V. L. Seshadri. After
learning for a few years I lost interest in Carnatic music.
Cricket was my passion. My mother insisted that I must learn
music. So I started learning music seriously. I joined Dr. S.
Ramanathan as his student. I learned a lot from him. After his
death his student Savithri Sathyamoorthy was my teacher.''
Unnikrishnan said he was a founder member of the Youth
Association for Classical music. ``This Association helped me
know more about Carnatic music. T. Vishwanathan and T. Brinda
selected me for a workshop which was very useful and made me
understand the aesthetic sense in Carnatic music, particularly
the Veena Dhanammal style.''
How did he get a break in films? Music director Rahman
after hearing his classical singing offered him the ``Kadalan''
song ``Enavale Adi Enavale''. The first song itself has got him
the national award. ``As far as the award winning two songs go,
the credit goes to Rahman and the lyric writer Vairamuthu. I am
happy that Vairamuthu has also bagged the award this year.
Why do you sing only melodious or serene songs but not
the popular variety of pop or rap? He feels that only certain
types of song suit him. ``If I think the song will not suit me I
tell the music director concerned or the director of the film
that the song can be recorded with some other singer. I choose
the song or my music director selects the songs for me. They all
know that I am basically a classical singer.''
But why sing film songs? ``What is wrong in singing
them?'' Pat came the reply from Unnikrishnan. ``When the song has
a Carnatic base, I love to sing it. In terms of classical music
you are saved as long as you maintain the tradition. I used to
sing light music numbers before becoming a classical singer. Now
I have decided not to sing film songs on stage but only Carnatic
music. For me classical singing is meant for the stage and film
songs only for the recording theatre. Both are different in their
Is it easy to sing film songs? Certainly not, says
Unnikrishnan. He feels that after every song, he feels he should
have done a better job. ``It is not very easy to sing film songs.
You need some experience. The mikes are really sensitive. You
must learn the song and give your best in two hours.''
It is not surprising that Unnikrishnan is a fan of singer
Jesudas the man who sings both Carnatic and film songs with