B V Srinivas: I never competed with anybody

B V Srinivas: I never competed with anybody

omposer and SP Balasubrahmanyam’s favourite arranger was barred from music by a strict father. But he eventually pursued his passion and recorded 20,000 songs

B V Srinivas is the first music composer to win Golden Disc Award for Kannada. Two albums of semi-folk songs, ‘Aparanji’ and ‘Bhagyada Balegara’, bagged him the honour.

In just six months, over 50,000 cassettes of ‘Aparanji’ were sold in the early 1990s. A recipient of Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy’s Kalashree award, he has composed music for 20,000 songs over 40 years.

Legendary singers S P Balasubrahmanyam, P B Sreenivas, Dr Rajkumar, B K Sumithra, Vani Jairam, P Susheela, S Janaki, B R Chaya, Rajesh Krishnan, Rajkumar Bharati, Ramesh Chandra and Kasturi Shankar have rendered his devotional song compositions.

Srinivas has worked closely with renowned music composers Rajan Nagendra, G K Venkatesh, M Ranga Rao and Vijay Bhaskar as well.

Srinivas has taken part in innumerable music recordings at All India Radio for 20 years. He was also a part of the team that produced ‘Ede Thumbi Haaduvenu’, the music reality show on ETV Kannada. It ran for 12 years, and he was in it from the beginning to the end.

He was featured again with SPB in all episodes of ‘Padutha Theeyaga’, a Telugu-language reality show.

Childhood and music

Srinivas’ ancestors hail from Kollegal taluk in Chamarajanagar district in Karnataka. “My grandfather was a close family friend of Dr Rajkumar’s grandfather. My father Vidwan R Venkatesh Murthy relocated to Bengaluru. He was also a musician,” he says.

Murthy could not thrive as a musician and hence did not want his children to be musicians. “He threatened to chop off my hands if I played the harmonium. He wanted me to choose a different profession,” he recalls.

As a child, Srinivas regularly visited the Bhajana Mandir of Kaniyara Seva Samaj at Chamarajpet. It drew huge crowds as legendary musicians performed there.

“I would watch the hands and fingers of musicians while they played on different instruments. I learnt the basics by observing the stalwarts,” he says.

Murthy caught his son playing the harmonium at the temple. He took Srinivas home, made him take a bath and asked him to play the harmonium. Srinivas says, “That day my father told me that he would teach me how to play.” Srinivas then learnt violin under Vidwan Chaluveeraiah and Vidwan Balakrishnappa, and sitar under Pandit Sheshadri Gawai. He began composing music for devotional songs in 1978. He composed music for vachanas, Dasara padas and folk songs.

Srinivas’s career took a turn after singer Gopi introduced him to B K Sumithra. He toured the Middle East and stayed in the USA for three months, playing at 38 concerts as part of Sumithra’s team in 1992.

“I wanted SPB to sing devotional songs for Mahamastakabhishekha in the mid-1990s. He could not commit to it, because of his schedule. I roped in Rajesh Krishan. Later, I brought out two cassettes with SPB. Those meetings cemented our relationship and it continued till his death,” he says.

During the decision to launch ‘Ede Thumbi Haaduvenu’, SPB wanted Srinivas to be a part of the team. “I had to select the children and train them. I also gave notes and kept the orchestra ready. I selected all of SPB’s old songs and we would recreate the old grandeur using just eight instruments,” he says.

Foray into Telugu

SPB was so impressed with Srinivas’ work that he wanted him for the Telugu show ‘Padutha Theeyaga’. “Initially, I declined as I didn’t know Telugu. However, I had to accept as he persuaded me,” Srinivas says.

Srinivas frequently travelled to USA for four years as many episodes of the reality show were shot there. He also trained children for a reality show called ‘Nityotsava’ aired by the Doordarshan.

“I never competed with anybody. I never took anything as a challenge. I composed music as it gave me contentment,” he says.

Srinivas was a singer during his school days. Many directors and producers wanted him to sing for them. “The position of a music director had more responsibility. I didn’t want to venture into singing,” he says.

Srinivas composed music for the film ‘Beralge Koral’ (1987), the only film he composed music for. “There were more offers, but I was so busy I could hardly find any time,” he says.