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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Kerala homemaker turns playback singer after viral YouTube video

Ramesh Babu, Hindustan Times  Thiruvananthapuram, October 24, 2013
First Published: 14:54 IST(24/10/2013) | Last Updated: 17:27 IST(24/10/2013)

From a sweltering kitchen to a recording room — it has been an incredible journey for a poor homemaker from Kerala.

Thirty-two-year-old Chandralekha’s YouTube video that features her singing a melancholic Malayalam film song while cradling her baby in her arms has gone viral, with 700,000 hits in a month, and has Malayalam and Tamil music directors lining up on her doorstep. 

Chandralekha has now done playback for a song for which the first choice was National Award winning singer Shreya Ghoshal. Music composer David Shon changed his mind about using Ghoshal when he watched Chandralekha’s viral video.

It is perhaps no wonder that the song is a big hit.

For Chandralekha the biggest high, however, was getting a call from her idol KS Chitra, who told her that she had hummed the old melody, Rajahamsame better than her in the YouTube video.

Chandralekha has no formal training in singing or classical music. A music buff since childhood, she won many prizes in school and college competitions. The youngest child of a farm labourer, she couldn’t continue her studies after graduation and married a junior clerk in LIC. Her husband’s family, however, encouraged her to sing.

Interestingly, the three-minute video was shot by her cousin brother and posted on YouTube last year. However, it started creating ripples only last month when someone posted the link on Facebook with her contact number and other details. Within two weeks it was ‘liked’ by 350,000 viewers. Ironically Chandralekha doesn’t have a Facebook or even an email account.

“My dream has come true,” she said. “I never expected that a singing career awaited me. I am flooded with calls now. Besides leading singers, many including (Kerala) chief minister Oommen Chandy called to congratulate me.”

She is now busy trying to get a passport to participate in a ‘musical nite’ in the Middle East slated for next week.

Tamil actor and producer Thiagarajan met her in Kochi recently and promised her a couple of songs in his upcoming film for which the music would be composed either by Ilayaraja or AR Rahman.

“Her voice is golden and has got enough depth,” music director Mohan Sithara, who has decided to give her a chance in his next film, said. “Without formal training if she can sing like this, she will go a long way.”

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