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Who am I?
Nivedita Narayanan; 23; Carnatic vocalist; disciple of Vidwan Shri K.N. Shashikiran -- my Guru and God; host of Pudhuppunal on Podhigai TV and Maithreem Bhajatha on Sankara TV; Assistant Editor, Oxford University Press; MBA from ICFAI Business School; BE from Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering; freelancer for Sruti, the music magazine.

I've moved...
...to http://nivedita.wordpress.com/

Please visit me there! :)

Music Season 2010-11 Schedule
Here's my performance schedule for this Season:

DateDay SabhaTime
12th DecemberSundayMylapore Fine Arts Club, Mylapore12.00 noon to 1.30 pm
13th DecemberMondayKrishna Gana Sabha, T. Nagar12.noon to 1.30 pm
18th DecemberSaturdayBrahma Gana Sabha, Luz Church Road1.00 pm to 2.15 pm
25th DecemberSaturdayRavindran Academy of Music, Saligramam
6.30pm to 7.00 pm
27th DecemberMondayGlobal Carnatic Talent Fest, Arkay Converntion Center, Luz2.15 pm to 3.30 pm
11th January Tuesday Papanasam Sivan Karnataka Sangeetha Sabha, Madipakkam5.00 pm to 7.00 pm

Besides my concerts, like the last two years, I will also be hosting Carnatica's annual chat show 'Sangeetha Sandippu--Carnatic Celebrity Coffee Chat' from the 16th and the 25th of December,  from 5.00 pm to 6.00 pm at Sangeetha Fast Foods, R.A. Puram.

This is the only event that allows rasikas to interact with Carnatic stars at close quarters and in an informal atmosphere. Rasikas can ask questions to the musicians, and the questions can range from 'Does the raga Ghanta have an arohanam-avarohanam?' to 'What's the last movie you watched?'! As usual, Sangeetha Fast Foods will be serving snacks and Kumbakonam degree coffee free to all rasikas! 

I have an interesting theme planned this year and I'm in the process of finalising the artists for the chat show. I'll put up the schedule here in a day or two. So, watch this space! :)

Maithreem Bhajatha on Sankara TV
I've been hosting this show for a few months now. It is a weekly half-hour long serial on Carnatic music appreciation that is telecast every Saturday at 9 pm.

Someone mailed me the link to the trailer today. So here it is:

That one word means so much to me. It has, for eight years now. When I was still in school, I dreamed of becoming a performing Carnatic vocalist. I would tell my parents often that I would become a famous vocalist and when people asked me, "What was the turning point in your life?", I would say, "Starting to learn from my guru Vidwan Shri K.N. Shashikiran," with pride. I've always wanted to become a respected vocalist and make my guru proud of me. I have a long way to go to achieve that, but I hope to, in a few years.

This Friday, my guru (who sings with his cousin Chitravina Ganesh as the Carnatica Brothers) had a concert at Hamsadhwani. As I walked in, a little girl came up to me and asked, "Akka, are you the one that hosts that music show on Podhigai?"

"Yes," I told her. "What's your name? Do you learn music?"

"I'm XYZ. I learn from the Carnatica Brothers."

I'd never seen her in Shashi sir's classes, so I asked her, "Oh, in Adyar or Mylapore?"

She looked at me with a defeated look and said, "Actually, I learn from ABC." (ABC is a relative of the Carnatica Brothers.)

The kid did not want to be known as a student of her guru ABC because ABC is not as popular as the Carnatica Brothers! Needless to say, I was speechless.

I shall not comment any more on the incident; it will suffice to say that it saddened me deeply.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but my guru has been and will always be, my God.

Virutham on Guru
About a week ago, I wrote this virutham on my Guru. I've used four raga mudras - candrajOti, saraswati, tilang and paras. It may be an amateur attempt, but it came from the heart, so I like it. :)

guruvE candrajOtiyE
param poruLE (en) uyirpporuLE (Note: candrajOti = Shashikiran)

vINA pANiyai saraswatiyai nAvil kONDu
(en) agyAnattai ozhittu sugyAnattai vaLarttAi

rAga tALa bhAvattil angamAi uruveDuttu
(ennuL) isai ennum jyOtiyai suDar viTTeriya vaittAi

(un) anbinAl aravaNaittu manadai magizhvittu
isai ennum kaDalil iga para sukham kANa vaittAi

manadAl smarittu immozhiyAl pOTTRi sirattAl vaNa.nginEn
un tiruvaDi caraNam caraNam caraNam

How TV changed my life
For nearly a year now, I have been hosting a show called ‘Pudhuppunal’ on India’s national TV Doordarshan’s Podhigai channel. It has been an absolutely wonderful experience and it has changed my life! Here’s how:

I belong to a family of nerds. I have probably always been the least nerdy of them all. I remember a time when the only television set we had at home was a small, black and white portable thing. It had an antenna that was about five feet long that we had to extend out of the house, in the hope that it would catch some semblance of a signal. Most of the time it wouldn't. We would watch the random black, white and grey spots that appeared on the screen and try our best to figure out what was happening. Which wasn't too difficult, considering the fact that we did not have a cable connection - there were only two channels, DD National and DD Metro.

A typical TV-watching session would invariably be like this:

It would be 8 pm and my dad would want to watch the news on DD National. So he'd switch on the TV, which of course, would display a random set of black, white and grey spots and some distorted signals that would run across the screen. There was no question of using the TV like a radio, because there would be a permanent white noise, until the five-feet long antenna caught the signal alright. So one of us would do our best to angle the antenna - we would bend it this way and that, angle it at 30 deg, 45 deg, 75 deg, even 32.67, until at some point, we would be able to make out vaguely what was happening on the TV screen. On some days, we would just give up and switch off the TV. Dad would read the news the next morning from The Hindu.

Also, my family was (and is) so nerdy that we never, ever, went out to a movie together. So, here I was, from a family that had never watched TV or movies, with no knowledge about any TV soap or block buster movie…sometimes, I found it difficult to make conversation with classmates in school because I would have NO idea what they were talking about! :D

When I grew up, I developed an interest in a plethora of things and did (and do) not have much time to watch TV or movies. In my 22 years, I have been to the theater about six times, the last time being in 2008. I’m sure I would like TV and movies if I did watch them, but I would invariably feel guilty for having wasted a few hours of my life, so I don’t.

With that background about my TV and movie watching experience, let me tell you how I got to be on TV myself.

Looking back, I cannot call it anything but a quirk of fate. In January last year, I got a call from someone in Doordarshan asking me to come over to their office. They had heard of me through a sabha secretary. They wanted me to do some music related interviews “on and off”. So I went, with a copy of my resume’ and a couple of studio photos. They seemed interested. I was immediately introduced to Mr. Bharathi, who was the producer of the show they wanted me to do. I had no idea that it was a regular show or that it was going to be entirely mine, until he fed me the details. It was to be a weekly one-hour show on up-and-coming musicians, to be telecast every Wednesday at prime time. He gave me the freedom to conceptualize the show, call guests, do my own research, prepare my own script and deliver it the way I want. I am very grateful to him for the freedom he has given me – something I cannot expect from anyone else. My producer, as I realized soon, is a wonderful person.

When I got back home that day from the Doordarshan office, I was skeptical about my dad's reaction. In a house where watching TV is taboo (although we now have a colour TV set with a cable connection), I had no idea if he would allow me to emote in front of the camera! Surprisingly, he seemed to like the idea himself! "So long as you don't have to shout "Stay tuned to XYZ program on Podhigai TV! Let's now take a short breeeeeeaaaak!" every few mins, I don't have a problem!"

So I said OK to Doordarshan. Shooting started in January last year during my end-sem study holidays. The show went on air on February 11th 2009. It is almost a year old now. Almost everyone in the music field has seen it. I have received numerous congratulatory emails, messages and phone calls. So has Doordarshan. Every time I’m in a gathering of TamBrahms or music rasikas, scores of people come up to me to congratulate, talk or ask for my autograph. If I travel by PTC bus, people offer to carry my bag! I get discounts in places where I shop, without my asking for it! Sometimes, the popularity and the adulation is fun, but at other times, it gets embarrassing!

I have loved every single moment I have spent in front of the camera. I so totally love meeting people. I love doing my bit for what I'm passionate about - Carnatic music. It has been great fun and I hope to continue saying “Neyargale Vanakkam!” into the camera, with a huge smile and folded hands, many many more times! :)

I love life!
So much has happened since the last time I blogged - things that were probably life-changing in one way or the other - that I could probably write a small book out of them. But life is great as usual and I'm loving the challenges it throws at me! :)

Besides my own show Pudhuppunal on Doordarshan Podhigai which has now completed almost 50 episodes (and is going strong), I'm now hosting a weekly half-an-hour long Carnatic music appreciation show 'Maithreem Bhajatha' on Sankara TV, which is aired every Saturday at 9 pm. There is a repeat telecast on Sundays at 5 pm.

I'm also currently freelancing for Sruti, India's premier magazine for the performing arts. I'm doing a series of interviews with accompanists. The first interview was with Kanjira vidwan B.S.Purushotham, which I think will be published in the December issue. I have been a big fan of Sruti, its quality and content, and consider writing for the magazine an honour :)

I'll write a detailed post soon about how TV can change someone's life, just as it has mine. Meanwhile here are a few links that you might want to see.

Videos of some episodes of my Podhigai show Pudhuppunal:


I recently shot for the first-ever music magazine on DVD, Raagamalika. Here's the trailer:


Like last year, I will be hosting this year's Sangeetha Sandippu - Coffee Chat with a Carnatic Celebrity, scheduled from the 20th to 30th of this month, at Sangeetha Okadey's Hall, between 4 pm and 5 pm everyday. Here's the schedule:

20th - Sunday - T.M.Krishna, Sangeetha Sivakumar & R.K.Shriramkumar
21st - Monday - Ranjani & Gayathri
22nd - Tuesday - Ghatam Karthik & B.S.Purushotham
23rd - Wednesday - Shashank & Chitravina Ravikiran
24th - Thursday - Sangita Kalanidhi Umayalpuram K.Sivaraman
25th - Friday - S.Sowmya
26th - Saturday - Unnikrishnan & O.S.Arun
27th - Sunday - Aruna Sairam
28th - Monday - Ganesh & Kumaresh
29th - Tuesday - Priya Sisters
30th - Wednesday - The Sikkil Family

1. Sangeetha will provide free snacks and coffee to rasikas on all days.
2. Free passes for each day's chat can be collected that morning from the venue.
3. Passes will be available on a first-come-first-served basis for about 70 rasikas every day.

It was a wonderful experience hosting the event last year and I'm looking forward to it this year!

Also, the second edition of Shashi sir's first book Carnatic Funtasktic will be released soon. We've been overwhelmed by the response the first edition of the book has received. I'm sure the second edition will be just as useful to all music students.

Another revolutionary book is in the offing. I'll write about that too as soon as we finish it :)

I wrote an email to someone today about Shashi sir and these two sentences came from the bottom of my heart:

"His innovative teaching methods, immeasurable gyanam, unparalleled dedication and his love and affection have moulded me, as it has several other students. I, for one, adore and worship him; it is to him that I owe my music and my career."

Over the past few months, I've done a lot of things, some of which I don't even remember anymore! But it's been a lot of fun; my thirst for creativity and achievement, and my obsession with Carnatic music have been the primary motivators!

There's so much to do, so much to achieve, so much to learn and enjoy. I hope I will be able to find the time for everything. Oh, and did I mention, I love life! :)

Upcoming Concerts
September 2nd: Wednesday - Music Academy (Spirit of Youth)
Time: 6:00 pm to 7:15 pm
Shyam - Violin
V.S.Raghavan - Mridangam

September 24th: Thursday - Bharat Kalachar (Yuva Utsav)
Sudha R.S.Iyer - Violin
Calcutta Karthik - Mridangam

September 27th: Sunday - RmKV Navarathri Music Festival
Shyam - Violin
Prapancham Surendran - Mridangam

Interview from the Dinathandi
This Sunday, the daily Tamil newspaper Dinathandi carried a full-page interview of me. The sub-editor of the newspaper had read the earlier write-up in Aval Vikatan and wanted to do a cover story for his paper.

Here's the interview from the online version of the paper. Click on the image to read the interview.

The ICFAI Business School Alumni Federation (IBSAF) Chennai representatives wanted to publish the English translation of this interview in their magazine. So here's a rough English translation.

First place…not impossible!

“I wake up at 4:30 am and do yoga for an hour. Then I practise music and leave for college. Once I’m back home in the evening, I prepare for my TV show’s shooting or for my music concerts. If I have a concert in the evening, I have to ensure that I perform well!” says 22 year old Nivedita Narayanan, all in one breath, bubbling with energy and enthusiasm! “These days I sleep only three hours,” she says, leaving us amazed!

“But isn’t it necessary to sleep eight hours every day to be able to work well the next day?” we ask her. Nivedita bursts out laughing, her cheeks dimpling!

“Many people say that they sleep 8, 9 or 10 hours everyday. But if you’re obsessed with excelling in all the activities you do, 3 hours of sleep will suffice! I get all the energy I need to work non-stop on all my activities, with 3 hours of sleep!” she says.

As we talk, we notice that Nivedita uses the term “first place” very often. Oh, there seems to be something with this young lady and “first place”! She is a gold medalist in B.E. Currently pursuing her M.B.A. from the ICFAI Business School in Gopalapuram, Chennai, she has been awarded scholarships for her first two semesters already. She is also a recognized Carnatic vocalist.

You’ve already secured quite a few “first places”. What next?

“I’m involved in a number of fields and I want to be the best in all of them. To be able to achieve that, I’ve decided not to shift out of Chennai. After my M.B.A., I want to shine in the corporate world and also become a great and respected Carnatic musician.”

A number of newspapers have recognized her as an excellent writer and reporter. She has written two books with her Carnatic music guru and is also involved in music research. She also has her own prime-time show on Doordarshan’s Podhigai channel, featuring talented, up-and-coming musicians.

To be able to achieve so many firsts, one must be a good child to one’s parents. Correct?

“Well, a lot of young girls like hanging out at the movies. But I hardly watch them. My M.B.A. institute is just a few yards away from Sathyam Cinemas. About five months ago, my friends dragged me along to a movie…and that was one of my very few movie-watching experiences! I don’t really enjoy watching movies; nor do my parents. In several such issues, I see eye-to-eye with my parents. So I’m a good child, after all!

Everyone must chart out a timetable to work on their goals. Only after that is done should they allocate time for other things. Some young people believe that its ‘cool’ to do what their parents don’t want them to do. What I suggest is that all youngsters draw a balance between doing what they want to do and what their parents want them to do. That way, you please your parents!”

How does one become a ‘good student’?

“I’m doing my M.B.A. and I want to excel in it. Some professors believe that to excel or to be a good student, it is necessary to come to class on time, to not talk during lectures and so on. If we abide by these simple demands, life is a lot easier! Also, to be a good student, pick the right kind of friends, so that you don’t end up doing things you actually don’t want to!”

How does one allocate time efficiently to be able to excel in so many fields, like you are doing?

“If you are passionate about something, there is no way you will not find the time for it. If you don’t have a deep interest in something, you will automatically feel tired or not-so-enthusiastic about it. There are a 100 ways to get a job done. For those who are passionate about achieving their goals, finding one of those 100 ways and getting the job done is not difficult at all! Passion, in one word, is what is required to be able to excel in several fields.”

You sleep only 3 hours a day. Is that a sacrifice you’ve made to achieve your goals?

“It is not a sacrifice. I can make do with 3 hours of sleep…simple!”

Don’t you regret not being able to enjoy life like other young girls?

“Each person’s perception of ‘enjoyment’ varies. For some people, enjoyment is going to the movies or the beach. For me, music gives incomparable joy and happiness. In fact, I enjoy life much more than most people my age!”

At such a young age, you seem to be chasing a lot of goals. Looking back at it later in your life, how do you think you will feel?

“I’d feel good! My elder brother Arvind Narayanan, stood first in India in the Indian Mathematics Olympiad , represented India at the International Mathematics Olympiad in Romania and won the silver medal, when he was in 12th standard. He graduated from IIT Madras and did his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. He has now been invited by Stanford University to do his post-doctorate and he has taken up the offer. He was able to achieve all this only because he worked hard on his goals. The one-movie-a-week attitude isn’t of much help in achieving goals! I’m chasing my goals too…with determination…and I will achieve them!”

Many young girls today work while they study. Will this not affect their academic career?

“If they can manage to do both well, that’s great! Work systematically and you will be able to straddle multiple careers; but don’t let your academics suffer!”

Girls who are focused on their careers get married very late, now-a-days. Your take on this?

“Well, some of my friends tied the knot at 21. Others have decided to marry late. It’s what they want to do…”

How will your achievements benefit our society?

“Whether it is through research or through my music, the society will be benefited in one way or the other. When I perform in public, the music gives happiness and peace of mind to a lot of people who listen to my concerts.”

Nivedita’s parents are Lakshminarayanan and Kalyani. Her music guru is Yuva Kala Bharathi K.N.Shashikiran.

The Hindu
My convocation photo from The Hindu newspaper. Stumbled upon it just now, six months after my convocation! :)



The Hindu Friday Review also carried a small news item about my music album Guru Kripa last week. Here's the link: