Dharan Kumar: I am still waiting for the right break
Music composer Dharan Kumar talks about his 25th film Pistha and his musical career
As I begin talking with music composer Dharan Kumar, it dawns on me that it has been 19 years since Unnai Kandene, his breakthrough hit from Parijatham. The fact was a bit hard to wrap my head around, considering the song remains fresh in our memories. However, that isn't the only landmark number the Podaa Podi-composer has given us. With Pistha, Metro Sirish's next, Dharan has touched the magical number 25. A single from the album, sung by Yuvan Shankar Raja, has been launched to celebrate the latter's birthday today. In a freewheeling chat, the young composer talks about his musical career, the term 'underrated' and much more.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How does it feel to cross the 25-film mark?
I entered the industry in 2005. In my 14-year music journey, this landmark is quite special. More significant is reaching it with the song, Azhagula Rasathi, sung by Yuvan Shankar Raja. The last time Yuvan and I collaborated for a film was for the song Poove Poove from Siddhu +2. After that, I wanted him to sing an important song and I am glad it happened for my 25th film, Pistha. Also, Metro Sirish is like a brother to me. We have known each other for 12 years. So I am happy that his film is my 25th film.
Intriguingly, your recent song for 7up Madras Gig, Rasathi Nenja, was also sung by Yuvan and again has the word 'Rasathi' in it.
The word 'Rasathi' has now become like a lucky charm after Rasathi Nenje and now Azhagula Rasathi. However, while that song was a peppy, stylish track, this is a rural-centric melody. I have always loved it when Yuvan sings melodies such as Pogathey or Oru Kal Oru Kannadi. However, Azhagula Rasathi is a slightly faster song, on the lines of his Kambathu Ponnu. His voice is a perfect match for the song and I am very happy with it. People generally slot Yuvan into the melody space, but his voice has a magic in it. Especially when he sings folksy songs, it adds a lot of charm. It sounds very catchy and different — I didn't have to change a thing. It is even more significant that the song is being released on his birthday. This is the first time a song of mine has been launched at the stroke of midnight. It's a happy moment. I hope everyone likes the song.
You have several hit melodies in your discography. And this seems to have given you the 'melody composer' tag...
I guess many of my hits are melody songs (laughs). I take it positively. Of course, I did do Podaa Podi, which had Love Panlama and I am a Kuthu Dancer, both not melodies. But there is Unnai Kandene, Siru Thoduthalile or even Poove Poove that has stuck with people for a long time. Azhagula Rasathi is also a folksy melody of sorts. Yuvan's portions are peppy, while Vaishali's portions are more melodic. Adhu apdiye amanjiruthu pola. I just went with the flow. But I have to confess that I do really like melodies — no matter what genre a song belongs to, I like to have a small melody in it.
Rasathi Nenja also marked your debut in the independent music space. Did you find the experience drastically different?
Unlike when working on films, I had the liberty to change and shape the song however I wanted. I had the freedom and also the time to keep experimenting — I kept changing a lot of things until the last moment. When it comes to films, there's a larger vision you need to adhere to, there's a deadline and so on. Here, it was all me. This was my first proper tryst with indie music and I think it is a great opportunity for any music director to scale up. While we had crazier ideas, I felt our audiences always have a soft corner for love songs. I am glad the song was received very well. It is very satisfying for a creator when audiences accept something that is all you, from the heart.
There is a general opinion that your music is quite underrated. How do you perceive that?
I do see a lot of tweets and posts terming me underrated (laughs). But, I am very happy with what God has given me and my position right now. It is a huge blessing that I have made it as a music director, especially given I stepped into the industry without any sort of background. Today, aspiring composers have several avenues to showcase their work. When I started out, I didn't have all this. There were only ten music directors and I was one of them. I had a hit in my first album, which is also a gift. While I have completed 36 films, my 25th movie is releasing now. But I am very positive as whatever work I have done has given me satisfaction.
Do you think opting for more commercial films would have made a difference?
Maybe. Maybe I should pick more commercial films, give more conventional hit songs. I am still waiting for the right kind of movies and break. I am hopeful that it will come; everything has its time. And when it does, I hope I give my best and people like it.