Megha or Harini Ramachandran (M), playback singer, entrepreneur and a woman that does a balancing act everyday, like many young achievers. She firmly believes the Universe will give you exactly what you want with all your heart. STW talks to her to get to know the mind behind all this talent!
As told to Shruti Bharath.
STW: Harini, you are a talented singer and have certainly made a niche for yourself with some commendable achievements in playback singing. Tell us a little about how you found your ‘voice’ and made this your career.
M: As a 3 year old, I used to sing tons of film songs, my mom says! Neighbors, relatives, family friends, my mom’s office colleagues – they all used to chorus to my mom, “Harini sings so well! In tamil it’d be “Shruthi shuddhama irukku” (She’s bang on pitch). I guess all those positive cheers have worked all along (unconsciously) into me believing I’m perhaps good at singing! It was thrilling to get selected into School and College music groups, winning competitions. Each of these little milestones contributed in it’s own way to the career I’ve made for myself in this field, that I’m oh so passionate about. I used be obsessed with A.R. Rahman songs. I wondered how these singers sang all these songs so flawlessly. It’s one thing to listen to a song and learn it. It’s another thing to be the voice of the song that others listen to and learn! And the latter was a gray area I fantasized I would master, some day!
I moved to Chennai after my 12th grade in Bangalore. As much as I hated the move, it turned out to be the best thing ever. I began to learn to play the guitar from Illaiyaraja’s (One of the greatest South Indian music directors) lead guitarist, Mr. Sadanandam. I ended up humming in class, more than strumming the strings! It was Mr. Sada who listened to my stuff and suggested I could give playback singing a shot! I sang some of his jingles in documentaries and soon went to make my own ‘Demo’ portfolio of songs that I thought I sang best, and reached out to Music Directors.
My first break happened in 2007 when Music Director Vijay Antony gave me two songs in the film Naan Avan Illai (Tamil) which I also happened to sing in Kannada later (Buddhivanta). And slowly a whole bunch of songs happened. I’ve now sung for most top music directors of South Indian film industry.
I’ve always believed – When you really really want something with all your heart and so much, the Universe makes way for it to happen. Of course, I worked hard. For my vocals, I learned from the finest and grabbed every opportunity that came way. I fondly look back and just smile! And look ahead at how many dreams I have for the future with regards to my career in music 🙂
I had once to make the choice – to go the corporate way after I finished my Masters in HR or take up music full time. A hard one, given so much to think about before taking such a huge call. I can’t begin to imagine what life would’ve been like if I’d chosen to go the corporate way. I’m glad I didn’t!
STW: You have had the opportunity to work with some amazing music directors and composers. Tell us your most special experience and why this means so much to you?
M: Tough one, this! The first time I ever faced the mike professionally is extremely special. My first release in Tamil and likewise – the first release in each of the languages. My first corporate gig. None of these are less special than the other. For someone who considered A.R. Rahman as God, my first ever recording for background scores for the movie ‘Yuvraaj’ in Hindi was unbelievable! To have my name on a Rahman album for the first time that made it’s presence in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu – ‘Jessie’s Land’ from Ekk Deewana Tha – was another moment that was excruciatingly awesome! It’s everything I’ve been wanting for as a child. And that’s why this career, these moments mean the world to me.
In school around the 10th grade, I used to be called the ‘Zara zara girl’ (the song from Rehna hai tere dil mein, 11 years ago, that made waves). And 10 years since the release, I was invited by the composer Harris Jayaraj for his concert world tour to sing the same song! Co- incidence or what! I don’t know.
I’m going back to what I’ve always believed in, when you really really want something with all your heart, the Universe makes way for it to happen!
STW: You are also co-founder at the School of Excellence (SOE) in Chennai. What brought about this initiative for you?
While I was pursuing playback singing, I also worked part-time in an e-learning organization called NuVeda Learning along with my Masters in HR from Madras School of Social Work. The Chief Technology Officer Antano Solar John at NuVeda had learned Neuro Linguistic Programming from Richard Bandler, the co-creator of NLP. As we got talking, this field intrigued me. I’ve always had a challenge with learning lyrics. I couldn’t ever do without my lyrics book while I sang on stage. This dependence was rather crippling. Antano helped me get over this over a single NLP intervention session. I went “if this is really so simple, then why is it not available easily to the world?”
People aspire for Excellence. To get really good at what they do and learn more, fast! NLP gives you precisely the tools to do that and so much more. As a singer, I aspire to learn and get better and better in my art. What inspired me was the vision – Generations and Generations of Excellence! By making context-specific models of excellence available to all. At School of Excellence, we are constantly learning the latest, working with people that have literally been written off by society, working with cases that have been considered medically impossible, working with those that are considered ‘tone-deaf’ or ‘rhythm-deaf’. We use NLP to help tons of people break these shackles they’ve been crippling themselves with and experience peak performance states, liberation. Really learn the language of rapport and influence – It’s fascinating!
STW: What does SOE represent and why should more people be paying attention to the offerings through this?
M: School of Excellence represents that “if any human being can do anything, so can you”. We see so much mediocrity floating around in the world. Some strive to really get to the top. Others try, and give up mid way. Some others don’t even aspire. And a lot of us are bounded by the belief “That’s how much I can achieve. I’m not brilliant. I can’t be as good as him/her.” Or are not even aware of how much they can possibly do by tapping their real potential!
Who says Excellence and Ingenuity is reserved for a select few? The offerings from School of Excellence help people live their life with freedom. Freedom to change old behaviors, freedom to learn, freedom to communicate effectively, freedom to program their own sub-conscious. Freedom to unleash their real potential and live like they’ve never lived before. We’ve clients that have been written off by everyone in the society and who have come to School of Excellence to regain all the hope lost, who are now surprising not just the society but themselves, too! Our offerings have been recognized and accredited internationally by reputed bodies. More people should be paying attention to this because all this can only lead to generations and generations of excellence – breaking all limiting beliefs and providing people with the opportunity and tools of being excellent, not succumbing to mediocrity.
STW: You obviously manage a broad set of interests on your work front, how do you make time for other aspects in your life? 🙂
M: Recently on an interview with NDTV-Hindu, Sanjay Pinto asked me – so you ride two horses – Playback singing and an Entrepreneur – how do manage the two? and I said “these days, it really doesn’t have to be either-or. It can be both-and!” Not being bound to an 9am-6pm job is a great thing! I work around my schedules, although they tend to be erratic! I get to spend a lot of time at home with my folks because I choose what my schedule is going to be like, for the day!
I’m perpetually tweeting, on facebook, reading, writing a book, having a happy breakfast every morning with my family, catching up with friends, going on holidays, checking out new food places in town and traveling loads! You always make more time! 🙂 When SOE work is getting uber hectic, a recording comes in right then, filling me up with all the creative juices I need! When I’ve back to back recordings or gigs, I chance upon different ideas that I take back into SOE!
STW: Your dream playback singing opportunity would be?
M: An endless string of songs for A R Rahman! No doubts! Songs that really bring out different personalities in me. One more challenging than the other! And continuously at that!
STW: Your advice for budding singers and/or NLP practitioners?
M: I want to thank STW for this beautiful opportunity. I had such a nice time reminiscing and sharing my experiences!
Budding singers – keep at it! Sing for the love of music! Raise your bar higher and higher. Explore! Rejoice and celebrate. Make a space for yourself. You don’t have to take a piece of the pie. Make your own pie! The world’s a big, big place. And you can make it as big or as small as you want!
To those who who want to do well in life – drop your filters and learn like a baby from “a know- nothing state”! No mother teaches her baby ‘grammar, syntax, punctuation…’. Babies just learn something as complex as the activity of walking, of learning languages by imitating their parents and people around! The world’s your playground! Model excellence, not mediocrity! There’s so much muck out there in the NLP world. Use your skills wisely and do your bit to make this world a better place!
I’m sure you got chills reading this one, to get to know Megha a bit more or connect with her, leave a comment here with STW.