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Harmonious duet

P.K AJITH KUMAR

Trivandrum Krishnakumar and Binny Krishnakumar are making a mark as a popular duo in Carnatic music.



Singing duo: Trivandrum Krishnakumar and Binny Krishnakumar.

Music brought them together and it is music that is taking them places. Trivandrum Krishnakumar and Binny Krishnakumar are making a mark as a popular duo in Carnatic music. The Chennai-based couple have together given nearly 100 concerts in India. I f singing couples are rare, that’s because it’s not easy for a male voice and a female voice to be in harmony during a Carnatic concert, as it is difficult to align the male and the female voice.

Challenging task

“That is certainly a challenging task and we have been able to succeed because Binny has the ability to make the necessary changes in sruthi,” says Krishnakumar, who was in Kozhikode recently to sing ‘Shadkala pallavi’ composed by G. Devarajan.

Binny adds that it is not the only challenge. “It is important that the styles of singing complement each other,” she says. These days they are much in demand to give a concert together, but both of them have already established themselves as singers in their own right.

Binny, of course, is known more as a playback singer than a Carnatic vocalist following the success of ‘Ra ra…’ (‘Chandramukhi’).

“I will forever remain indebted to composer Vidyasagar, who gave me the song when I was a nobody in playback singing. I had given a cassette of my songs to Vidyasagar, who knew Krishnakumar. Then, about six months later, Vidyasagar invited me to record ‘Ra ra…,’” recalls Binny, who hails from Thodupuzha.

The rest is history. ‘Chandramukhi’ became a hit and the song a rage. “The way that song has helped me in my career – both as a playback and classical singer – has been incredible. I was lucky I got a song in a Rajnikanth film so early in my career and the ‘Filmfare’ award for my very first song. Many people believe that I am a Telugu because of ‘Ra ra…’ The other day, after a concert in Andhra [Pradesh], two men came u p to me and started to speak in Telugu; I didn’t understand a single word and wondered aloud in Malayalam what they were saying. It turned out they were Malayalis too,” chuckles Binny.

Although she has sung in a few Malayalam films, she is still waiting for the right break in her mother tongue.

“I regret that I haven’t been able to sing a song for Vidyasagar in Malayalam, in which he has produced so many melodies, like ‘Aaro viral meettee..,’ which is one of my all-time favourites,” says the former Kalathilakam.

How did they hit upon the idea of performing together at a concert? “About six years ago, former minister P.J. Joseph asked us to sing together at his daughter’s wedding at Thodupuzha. Our performance was appreciated and we thought it was worth trying again. It is gratifying to note that we have been accepted by the audience though it might be a new experience for them; the only male-female classical music duet I have seen so far is a jugalbandi of Carnatic and Hindustani by Sreeram and Anuradha Sreeram, ” says Binny.

Chips in Krishnakumar, “I have always believed in trying something new in music. It is challenging to do a male-female duet in Carnatic, but I enjoy it and so does Binny.”

Like Binny, Krishnakumar, a disciple of M. Balamuralikrishna, too has dabbled in playback singing.

“But unfortunately some of the songs I rendered did not get noticed or were not used in the film, like the song in ‘Kalachakram’ for instance. I have, however, no complaints and am happy with the way my career is progressing,” he says.

Albums too

He has also composed a few albums. “I particularly enjoyed composing ‘Narayaneeyam’ for K.S. Chitra,” he says. Krishnakumar says he felt flattered when Devarajan asked him to sing ‘Shadkala Pallavi,’ which was a dream project of the late composer.

“And when Balamuralikrishna chose me to sing in the latest album he composed, I considered it as an honour,” he says.

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