The song begins with a woman’s voice. If I am not there with you one day, if my thoughts and memories are no longer there, will you still love me, she asks, before the music begins. It’s got the slow and quick beats of a wedding song. The lines of Thyagaraja krithi Seetha Kalyanam mix with English. A minute and a half later, the deep voice of a woman sings Radha Rahasiya, the semi-classical lines in between. Renuka Arun seems to be at ease. It’s like she is singing another of her many kutcheris, but behind a mike in a studio, wearing a headset.
“It is in fact at a studio in Kochi that I met the music director — Sooraj S. Kurup — for the first time. A week later, he called me for this song for Solo,” Renuka says on a work day. She is at the office of Ernst & Young in Infopark, a project manager busy on a Wednesday morning. But she takes some moments off to talk about something she’s begun to love as a toddler — music. “It’s my father who recognised I could sing when I was two-and-a-half years old.” At four, she began her music lessons. In 1992, she had her first Carnatic concert. And now, she has completed over 700 concerts.
Carnatic, she says, is her focus, her strength. So she has always found time for it, through her studies, her family, and her job.
Film music happened accidentally. Gopi Sunder was at the time looking for someone to sing the track of the Telugu song Endhoro Mahanubhavalu for the film Bhale Bhale Magadivoy. His guitarist Sumesh Parameswar who knew Renuka introduced the two. For some time, when the song didn’t come out, Renuka thought it might have been for tracks. But when it came, it was loved much. Sooraj had heard it too. He was looking for a Bombay Jayashri texture for his Seetha Kalyanam. “I am lucky both the songs have become hits,” she says. There were one or two offers in between but those didn’t work out. “I didn’t know I would fit in film music. I thought you should be someone like Chithra chechi, with that kind of voice range and tone…”
Both her film songs are semi-classical, and Renuka would love to try singing other genres too. She also loves to write on music, and has a column in a Malayalam daily.