She may be able to sing in six different Indian languages, but she is clear that it is Hindi that she relates to most. “I grew up in Delhi. I think in Hindi too,” Indian-American singer Anuradha Juju Palakurthi said.
The ‘Anuradha Palakurthi Foundation’, which is sponsoring the ‘Vax India Now’ initiative will witness coming together of talents like Gloria Estefan, Sting, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, David Foster, Norwegian DJ Alan Walker, Aasif Mandvi, Matteo Bocelli and Anuradha Juju Palakurthi for Virtual Fundraiser to Support India in its fight against Covid-19. The digital concert will be streamed live on CNN Digital on the July 7.
Believing that most artists are aware that they possess a loud bullhorn that reaches people fast – and are willing to use it for social justice, she says that it holds true both in the West and at least since the 1950s in the Indian Film industry. “Be it equality, freedom, empowerment, minority rights and love… I can name specific movies in each of those categories. Indian Film industry has always been at the forefront of sharing values, at the risk of being castigated by status quoists,” says the singer who has performed live with singers like Kumar Sanu, Suresh Wadkar, Deepak Pandit and Bappi Lahiri across the United States
Looking back at her journey as a playback singer, she feels indebted to the Kannada actor Dr Rajkumar. “In 1988, he gave me a chance to sing for his film, Ranaranga. That recording opened dozens of opportunities for me to sing in Bangalore… including for the Nag brothers (Shankar Nag & Ananth Nag).”
Talking about what most Indian artists went through during the lockdowns, Palakurthi adds, “I am heartened by the action of top-flight artists that created movements to support their fellow-tradesmen. That is the sign of an emergent, great Indian society – in which civic action complements government efforts and sometimes even front-runs it.”
Palakurthi, who took a break from singing only to pursue it again in 2013 under Arati Ankalikar Tikekar’s tutelage, says, “Though I cannot see myself as a classical singer, these lessons, practice and appreciation help me sing better in other genres. Even though Arati-ji reminds me of the many times I inadvertently slip in and out of the Carnatic style.”
–By Sukant Deepak