Hamsalekha at 70 looks back on a prolific career

Hamsalekha at 70 looks back on a prolific career

Hamsalekha

If Hamsalekha had seriously pursued his first dream of becoming a director, Karnataka perhaps would never have heard his many hit melodies. The lyricist and music composer turned 70 on Wednesday. “I knew I was talented in music. But I came to films to be a director,” he said on Friday during a webinar organised by the University of Mysore’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication. Hamsalekha was invited to speak on film music. 

“I had the enthusiasm of a soldier when I began composing music for films. That’s when I realised it was a barren land. My predecessors, who had left an indelible impression on the industry, had aged. Some of my seniors were no more. Since I was alone, I had to create my own competitors,” he told over 100 participants.

The music of ‘Premaloka’ (1987), starring V Ravichandran and Juhi Chawla, put Hamsalekha firmly on the map of Indian film music. In his body of work, comprising 350 films, he has won an array of awards, including the National Award in 1995 for ‘Ganayogi Panchakshara Gavai’. 

“I didn’t go behind awards. I never called award committees to ask if they had my name or not. One day, I wondered how I managed to win so many awards. That’s when I remembered a conversation with comedian N S Rao and it made complete sense. He told me that it was ‘Shoonya Kala’ when I began my journey in films. Everything came to me. And I was involved in recognising talent and nurturing ideas. I must say I began my career at the right time,” he said. 

Hamsalekha, who reigned supreme in the ’90s, says technology has definitely made music recording easy. “We worked in an era when creating a hit album was a must. People needed it. Today, money and effort goes into making just one song popular. If that’s taken care of, the rest of the songs in the album needn’t be of the same quality. Also, content is business now. Right from rehearsing to recording, everything has to be promoted,” he observed. 

The most asked question was inevitably about ‘Premaloka’. It was the highest selling album ever in south India in the cassette era at 38 lakh copies. Can he recreate the magic? “For that, Ravichandran and Juhi Chawla need to be born again. And I need to go back in time,” he said with a chuckle. “We must not look back. Let’s make great music in the future,” he signed off. 

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