In conversation with Oscar-nominated Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri
Yoshika Sangal | May 26, 2017 | New Delhi
Oscar-nominated Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri is a phenomenal performer, teacher and composer. She grew up in a family which is into music from generations. She has performed at festivals and concerts in more than 35 countries. She was nominated for ‘Pi Lullaby’ in the film Life of Pi in the best original song category in the 2012 Oscars. Jayashri has worked with AR Rahman, Shubha Mudgal, Leela Samson, Mahesh Dattani, Mani Ratnam and Revathi, among others. She believes that music should be part of primary education and that it is everyone’s responsibility to promote music.
How were you associated with music?
I come from a family where everyone loved all genres, all the notes and the swaras.
Has the training in classical singing has changed over time?
It has changed like the changes happening in everything around us. For instance, generations before my teachers, training in music was done like the Vedas were taught. With technology, this has changed. There are recordings and technological aids which have changed learning considerably. Now, there are mics and air-conditioned halls. Technology has its ups and downs, but it has made us reach out to more people.
Your experience been working with different musicians?
My premise is that whoever I work with, whether a Carnatic, or Hindustani, or a western musician, their music comes from the same notes. Working with them, I see art from their eyes and I draw inspiration. It is wonderful to work through their language, sensitivity, discipline and variety. I feel enriched and I come back being a better Carnatic musician and a better human being.
Why are you called ‘Bombay’ Jayashri?
The tradition in Carnatic music is to put the name of the village or town where one grew up. I grew up in Bombay. A renowned critic decided that it should be part of my name. I retained it and I like it. I love Bombay. Everything I am is because of the city. In fact, so many people address me as Bombay!
Have you noticed any change in the audience of classical music?
Quite a bit; even from the time I started performing. One change is in the cutting down of the duration of performances. Music is easily accessible through YouTube and iTunes. It reaches the audience before I physically present it to them. No idea whether it is good or not. I agonise sometimes, that the audience is losing patience. They’re not ready to wait. Earlier, the time between two of my concerts was one year. The audience used to wait and wonder where I’ve gone, so that I can pick up from where I left. They encouraged me through this journey of learning and evolving for my betterment. Now, I feel this is largely absent.
Your advice to future musicians?
Art is a deep, wide, broad and enigmatic form; one can never understand where we’re going after years of practice. Least we need is patience. Being in hurry can make one miss the magic.
Is government doing enough to promote music?
We are all responsible to promote it. We need to get music into the education system. Every child has the right to have music in his/her life. It is important to have music as a subject in the primary years of education starting from kindergarten. That will become make a big difference. We’re so culturally rich. Art will sensitise us, will make us beautiful people and make our relationships lovely. I have a dream of such an India. Already the world looks up to us [India] for our art and spirituality. Why don’t we give it to our children?
Where do you see India ten years from now?
Beautiful. There is so much good everywhere in the world but when I come back, I am proud to be an Indian, except if we could be cleaner, greener, handle population and corruption.
(The interview appears in the May 16-31, 2017 issue of Governance Now)
Sometime in 1999, I took Arun Jaitley out for meal for the column, “Lunch with Business Standard”. As is his wont, he chose his own place for lunch. It was at the Chambers at the Taj Mansingh hotel, an exclusive domain of the high and the mighty Delhi. As we sat down for the meal
The arrest of Palaniappan Chidambaram, former union minister of home & finance, by the CBI, albeit after his much dramatic disappearance and reappearance, has brought an end to his long run from the arms of law. As a finance minister, being at the other end of the law, the former ministe
An unintended consequence of the inversion of Article 370 and the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories is the curious revival of Pakistan’s interest in Indian history and sociology. For the first time in decades, a Pakistan prime minister made the Rasht
Neeraj Kabi, a critically acclaimed self-taught actor, theatre director, and acting teacher, has worked in Odiya, Hindi and international cinema, theatre, television and web series. In 2014 he was honoured with the best actor award at the 4th Sakhalin International Film Festival for his role in the fil
Prime minister Narendra Modi has told US president Donald Trump that Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s “incitement to anti-India violence” was not good for peace in south Asia. Modi and Trump had a telephonic conversation – their first since the Aug 5 move to chang
As children are consuming more and more fast foods and sweetened beverages are becoming, leading to obesity and related non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) has come out with guidelines on such substances. The dietary guidelines under its nutrition chapter