Melody Queen : Jyotsna Radhakrishnan is Soaring High

With ‘Paranne’, Jyotsna is on a path of self discovery as a musician!

‘Raftaara’ the song from the blockbuster Mollywood film, Lucifer  went viral the minute it was released online. It came as a surprise to many that it was Malayalam Cinema’s very own Jyotsna, who had sung this fast Hindi number! The gorgeous playback singer herself didn’t expect to receive such an overwhelming response and she is thrilled that the song has topped the charts. Of late, Jyotsna has been busy with her independent projects such as ‘Krishna the eternal’ – which is an offbeat meditation album, her single ‘Enni Varumo’ which won the Mazhavil manorana music award for best independent song of the year and of course ‘Paranne’, an original, written, composed and sung by the melody queen herself! Ritz catches up with the brilliant musician, Jyotsna Radhakrishnan, who recently won the ‘Kochi Marriott Presents Ritz Super 8’ felicitation for her exceptional and inspirational work in Music. 

Interview: Riya Sonny Datson

We have never heard you sing such a fast number and that too in Hindi. Was it your first time?

Well, I always sing Hindi songs for my live performances and for the covers I do for the ‘Simply Live’ sessions on my You Tube channel called ‘Jyotsna official’. So, as a language, Hindi is familiar forte. But yes, this genre is something new for me. I think this was the first time I was singing a full powered song. I was really excited when Deepak Dev told me that they are doing a Hindi song and that they wanted me to try singing it. I had convinced myself that I was just going to do a trial for them as I was sure that they would hire someone from Mumbai for the actual recording. But they liked the way I sang and they decided to change the lyrics a bit and asked me to sing again. The second time they liked it even better and asked me to do the actual recording. I was more than thrilled!

How was the response from the audience?

The song comes in the climax sequence where there are fight scenes and the story continues with the song. When people watched it in theatres, I don’t think they realised who the singer was. Only when the song was released online did the audience realise that it was me. From then on, I was bombarded with social media messages which was really overwhelming,

Was it a challenging to sing such a fast number?

I wouldn’t call it challenging. Yes, when a song is described to you, you need to understand how it is going to be pictured and experiment with how it is going to sound. The treatment was definitely different. But more than a challenge, it was a whole of excitement and fun. I enjoyed it thoroughly as it was a totally new experience.  I must mention that the song required a raw feel and the lyricist Tanishk Nabar who is based in Mumbai did a wonderful job. The song actually narrates the essence of the film and there is nothing vulgar or erotic about it.

We haven’t heard much of your playback singing in 2019. Was it a conscious decision?

The year 2019 has been a year of immense personal growth.  My independent work has kept me busy all through the year which I must say has been creatively very satisfying. My original, ‘Paranne’ which I wrote, composed and sang, has been a song that has given me immense satisfaction as a musician. I put my heart and soul into ‘Paranne’ as it involved a whole lot of work. The video for the song is also very unconventional and I take pride in doing my own music. Independent music is slowly gaining recognition thanks to bands like ‘Thaikkudam bridge’ or Gauri Lakshmi who do their own compositions.  I am in a phase where I am challenging myself and trying to get out of my comfort zone. Yes, the large majority of audience still listen to film songs. Films are an important part of our life as singers and playback will always be a part of my life but being an independent musician is my long term goal.

Do you think the scenario is changing in playback singing?

I find that the focus has shifted more towards background scores now. There are fewer songs and songs by itself have become shorter too. But musically, I feel Malayalam industry is at its best. There are a lot of musicians and lot of directors who are doing wonderful work.

How do you strike a work life balance?

Life can be struggle when you have a hyperactive four year old at home. Like any other working mom, managing work and home can get very challenging but fortunately for me, I have a family who is completely supportive. My husband encourages me to pursue my passion. I am also particular that I spend time at home with my family. My practise happens when my son goes to school. My parents and in-laws step in for me whenever I am traveling. But I am focussed on striking a work life balance and life has been good.

How do you handle the pressure and insecurities that come with Cinema?

Insecurities and negativity are a part and parcel of this field. Though no one talks of it, it is very much there and it is not going to go away. A lot of it is due to the trend of image creation on social media. If you spend too much time on social media, it is very natural to feel intimidated. I started my career before this surge of social media and it took me some time to grasp the technicalities of it. I am at a point where I realise that I need it as people see me on social media more than on stage. It is important that I am visible. I am active on Instagram but I am not the person who is always glued to social media either. I do use it to update people about my work and maybe once in a way, sing a few lines. Whenever I feel that social media induces anxiety, I keep my phone away. I tell myself that everyone is doing their own thing and that anxiety is unnecessary. Everyone has their back story. Work for what you believe in, keep working hard and recognition will come eventually.

Do you prefer live sessions, playback or You Tube sessions?

My choice would be Live performances any day! The exchange of energy is just amazing but yes, the crowd has to be responsive. It gives you a particular kind of high that stays with you for days. I absolutely enjoy Live performances

Don’t you have any stage fright at all?

Every single time! But it is only for the first couple of minutes, once I am comfortable with the stage and the crowd, then I love what I am doing. But the first few minutes always give me butterflies. Even after twenty years I still experience the jitters, the rapid heartbeat and hands and feet going cold and I don’t think that is going to go away for another 20 years! (laughs)

What is the secret behind such a beautiful voice?

I go on voice rest at regular intervals. When I feel my voice needs rest, I try not to talk for a couple of days. That is a huge challenge by itself especially when you have a four year old at home. But that’s the maximum I do.  I don’t over pamper my voice or take extra care. I feel it is better to keep your voice immune to every situation.

Interests outside of Music?

I love reading and traveling. My husband is also a travel enthusiast and we have set travel goals for ourselves.

Are you keen on Music direction or dubbing?

Music direction for movies is a completely different ball game altogether and am not sure if I am ready for that now. But independent work is very much on the cards. Dubbing is an art that I really love and I admire people who do it. I think it is a wonderful art but unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to try it. If I wish for it, I hope the universe conspires to make it happen.

Who are the dream artists you want to work with and what genre of music do you want to do in future?

I have worked with Ilairaaja Sir but not with A R Rahman. He is a music director who I really want to work with, I hope it happens sometime soon. An artist who I look upto would be Adele. I love the way she communicates with the audience during the concert. When she sings, she literally steals our heart. I really want to meet her and if I do get to meet her, I would love to talk to her and take a picture with her. It is my dream to meet her.

When I did my song, Paranne, I got a lot of personal messages that the song is very inspiring and that people could relate to it. The song is about resurrection and rising from the ashes like a phoenix. I want to do more of such songs that will reach out to people and inspire them.