Meeting BindhuMalini Narayanaswamy, Singer and artist extraordinaire

Friday, May 31, 2013

I heard Bindhumalini's music before I met her. Hers is a powerful soulful voice. A voice that effortlessly takes you to places you have never been to. Deep within, far away, where coherent thoughts never manage to reach. It is a voice meant to heal. It is prayer, it is absolution. 

See & hear Bindu performing at the Kabir Festival in this video by Amitesh Singhal:

So to meet her and see an impish innocent young artist and become friends with a very easy approachable person will continue to be one of the surprising privileges life seems to have granted me. And the more I knew of her the more she gained dimension. One of the few people one may call a consummate artist, an artist whose creativity and talent transcends mediums and methods. So while music is probably what her life revolves around, she also paints, dances, acts. Married to the dynamic lead vocalist in the folk rock fusion band Swarathma, Vasu Dixit, and she is a double graduate, one in art, one in music- masters in vis com from Loyola and P.G from NID.
Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy comes from serious musical heritage, granddaughter of Kalaimani Seetha Doraiswamy, Bindhu grew up in a home where music and art were just a way of life and not something one 'did'. Speaking of her childhood, "And I always liked making something out of the remains of things, sort of junk art. I painted on branches, barks, back of calendars, bent wires to make cycles, figures etc. My family was both amused and encouraging when it came to my experiments. Honestly, now looking back, my main influence was my sister. She was very creative and had a beautiful sketch book full of doodles, cartoons, funky punch lines and themes. I was inspired by her and just wanted to be like her. 
Bindumalini teaches music and travels all over over India performing songs of Kabir and other mystic saints of India. She along with her two sisters also perform "Akatha Kahani" a unique sharing in the form of song, dance and stories on Kabir.

 When I asked her what her aspirations as an artist was - she said,
"To be in constant state of joy, sharing and honest expression and also be known for the same. I do dream of seeing myself perform in various parts of the world, realise all my creative capabilities. I love to dance, and act too. I want to do some good challenging roles in good movies."

Artnlight: What did you want to be when you were a child? :)
Bindhumalini: Everyday I came up with something new that I wanted to become. But I could not decide between the two images of myself, one was about being famous. Just famous, no matter what, and the other was being a bus conductor. According to me, being a bus conductor was the most fascinating thing. Being quick in handing out so many tickets, collecting coins, notes, quickly folding them and tucking it between your fingers while still holding the bundle of tickets of various denominations, and a whistle hanging from the little finger, the compact, many compartment stiff leather bag which he always shook horizontally to get the right change, the pen tucked behind the ear, doing a balancing act without holding to anything, and then having a small paper with boxes that you keep updating. I could watch this and dream on forever. I infact collected tickets so that I could play this game with my cousins. I remember even writing a poem about it.

Artnlight: Tell us a little about Sunobhai and how it came into being.
Bindhumalini: Vedanth Bharadwaj is a dear dear friend and a good human being and a great musician. It is a great learning experience to work with him and is full of ease. He is such a good guitarist and no matter what I want to sing, be it a folk number, a hard core carnatic piece, or some masala I conjure up or a nice lilting raag he comes up with a brilliant weave of strings to cushion and drape what I sing.  His playing sets both the rhythm and the background support so it feels complete with just the guitar and voices.
Sunobhai happened when Vedanth called me one day to join him in his production of his second album after his solo Mati Kahe. I jumped at the opportunity and within a week I was back in Chennai and we were working night and day in his then home studio on this album. We both were greatly impacted by the poems of Kabir and the songs of Kumar Gandharv.  Sunobhai is all about our tribute to both.
You can buy Sunobhai on flipkart right here

 And now to share an exciting part of what Bindhumalini is currently doing, PLAY is an an online exhibition of her paintings that started on 31st March and is on till 6th June. You can see the exhibition here:

Putting this post together, my biggest challenge was, how do I do justice to BindhuMalini in a series of static images? You had to hear her to meet her. And then a crazy thought struck me, we could do a video interview! In her beautiful home in Bangalore. I requested Bindhu if she would oblige. And she agreed. I mailed her the questions and in this video, she speaks, paints and sings in her beautiful atmospheric art filled home and dances in the magical Hampi.  
The film begins with her answering my question, "What is your most favourite part of what you do?"

This is the 1st time there has been a video interview of anyone on this blog & i want to thank Bindhumalini for being so generous and such a sport and doing this for Artnlight readers.
This is her page on FaceBook, do like it if you like her music and want to keep informed about her performances and art in the future. 
And do take a look and spread the word about PLAY, her online painting exhibition.
I would love to hear how you liked this post and Bindhumalini's work and this video interview.
Photo Credits: Elvin Lonan, Sahil Bhattad, Kunal Mithril

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