Bombay Jayashri on Padma Shri win: It’s big for people who loved me for 40 years
As soon as her phone began buzzing on the eve of Republic Day, Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri Ramnath browsed through TV news channels
As soon as her phone began buzzing on the eve of Republic Day, Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri Ramnath browsed through TV news channels. “Some friends said that my name was announced in the Padma awards, but I was in complete disbelief. I called up my mother to share this, but she couldn’t verify either. During that call I could hear a few more beeps of other people trying to call me, and that’s when I realised that it must be true,” she recalls.
“I had to call up my mother first, because I’ve been living their (my parents’) dream,” says the 56-year-old, whose fandom spans across generations due to her vast repertoire of music that ranges from classical to film songs. “For me, singing is a very moving experience. As shlokas move me, even a romantic and cosy Zara Zara (Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein; 2001) can move me. I was born in a house that woke up to music of my father’s riyaaz everyday at 4am, until he passed away, and I went to bed with the music of students who learnt from my parents. Also, 7.30am every morning Sangeet Sarita, on All India Radio (AIR), used to play in our house; that talked about all genres being captured in one raga, and it was like a morning puja... Even in between practising ragas, we used to talk about how Lata ji has sung a particular song. And I actually spent my childhood practising Lag Ja Gale (Woh Kaun Thi?; 1964) and other film music with as much dedication as raag sangeet... We tend to alienate classical music and make it very non inclusive, but I have delivered film or live songs like a director’s actor. And I have been directed by some of the best (music) directors, who have been primarily vocalists and started composing later,” she adds.
Who among the longlist of illustrious music composers wished her first on the Padma Shri recognition? “Shankar Mahadevan; we have grown up together. I still remember how he used to steal 25paise from his mumma and I would get them form my parents, and then we used to have sukha bhel after our music classes in Matunga (Mumbai),” she quips.
Having extensively performed and been recognised worldwide - including an Oscar nomination for Pi’s Lullaby in the film (2012) - Jayashri says the Padma Shri recognition still makes her feel honoured. “Every award is special as it bookmarks a space in your life. Having said that, the Padma award is by the centre, and checking the messages I’ve been receiving since it was announced, I really think this award means a huge thing. It’s a big deal for people who have loved me for 40 years, and people who have wished all this for me are way too many in comparison to the award. I’ve been fortunate that the response has been overwhelming,” concludes the artiste.
Author tweets @HennaRakheja
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