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Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Exceprt from an interview with R. Vishweshwaran, musician/composer

Q: How did you get involved with R D Burman, M S Viswanathan and film music?

A: In '74, I came into contact with R D Burman who took me to Bombay and gave me entry into Bombay film music, an experience I cherish greatly. I have played guitar for R D Burman, C Ramachandra, Rajesh Roshan, Lakshmikant-Pyarelal etc. I have had the good fortune to play accompaniment to Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar and Asha Bhonsle. Unfortunately, though I have heard Rafi sing in a recording, I never got to play for him. It was during the Bombay film recordings that I met the santoor maestro ´┐Żavatara purusha´┐Ż Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, my great guru and revered influence in my life. Thus started my training in santoor. He urged me to leave everything else and concentrate on santoor alone, which put me in a great dilemma. I was shunting between Madras and Bombay at that time. In '76, M S Viswanathan spotted my talent and to this day, I play for him. And I love to play even today for A R Rehman who is absolutely wonderful and takes the best out of an artiste.

Q.: Classical musicians tend to discount film music as not respectable. Do you think film music is a valuable experience for a Carnatic musician?

A: In my opinion, it is better to be jack of all trades, master of some! Film music helps you determine how close to sing to the mike at different voice levels, feeling, how to adapt the music, especially quick composing which I learnt from M S Viswanathan, quick decisions on where to modulate the voice...The wonderful kalapramanams of MSV, R D Burman and Naushad have inspired me greatly.

Q.: Which is your proudest moment as a classical musician?

A.: Actually there are quite a few.
*When I was a college student, I used to play flamenco solo guitar music. Veenai Balachander gave me the title 'Flamenco Mylaporean' on 25th March 1968.
*When R D Burman introduced me to Asha Bhonsle as 'the best guitarist in India'.

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