Struggle hard and success is bound to come your way. The life of thirtyfive-year-old Karunakar, a father of two from Haleangadi, embodies this statement.
Karunakar nurtures a unique talent. He is blessed with a special set of vocal chords that allow him to sing in dual voices. He can sing both in male and female voices. Till date, he has performed in many open stage programmes.
This talent of his could not lie hidden for long and Karunakar is one of the contestants selected to represent the city in ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa – Season 11’, which will be soon aired on Zee Kannada.
Here are excerpts from a brief interview with Karunakar:
Q: You sing in dual voice. When did you first come to know of this talent? Did you have any prior training?
A: I do not recollect the time when I became aware of this talent. When I was young, I used to listen to the radio in my free time and I used to sing the songs that I heard. When there was a female voice, I would just sing along. My mother first noticed my talent and encouraged me to continue. I never had any formal training but I have always seen SP Balasubrahmanyam and S Janaki as my source of inspiration.
Q: When did you first start performing?
A: As a small kid, I always had a desire to participate in all entertainment programmes at my school. It was in my second standard that I first performed on a stage. All my classmates were excited and during any cultural event, they would wait eagerly for my performance.
Q: What about your first performance outside your school?
A: My first stage performance outside my school came when I was twenty-five years old. Rahim, an album singer, gave me a chance to perform at Pakshikere. It was a dual voice song and I won wide appreciation for my performance. That gave me more confidence.
Q: Can you share any unforgettable experiences as a dual voice artiste?
A: Oh yes! [Excited] Once there was a big programme in Udupi and the lead female performer did not turn up owing to some unavoidable circumstances. The organizers could not arrange for a replacement at once and were very worried. When I came to know of this, I promptly approached the organizers and they allowed me to fill her space. They were very anxious, but once I started to perform with a female voice, they settled and enjoyed the performance.
Q: Did you ever get an opportunity to showcase your talent in a foreign country? If you get a chance to perform abroad, will you go?
A: Yes, my friends from Kadri, Balakrishna and Gokul Kadri, gave me an opportunity to perform at the anniversary of Billava Sangha in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in 2014. I thank them for this opportunity. It was a very nice experience. If I get such an opportunity again, I will go for sure.
Q: Do you sing in other languages besides Kannada?
A: I can sing in any language other than Konkani and Malayalam. I find the pronunciation very difficult [laughs].
Q: You have been selected to take part in the second round of auditions for the upcoming Sa Re Ga Ma Pa season 11. Can you tell us about your journey so far in the competition?
A: When I performed during the auditions, everyone used to appreciate me. Sudhir Ullal, a dancer from City Guys Vamanjoor troupe, had approached and urged me to participate in this competition. I had never dreamt of participating in such a big competition, but with the encouragement I received, I enrolled myself in the first round of auditions. I competed against nearly 500 well-trained singers. The judges liked my performance and I was one among the four selected from Mangaluru. I was called for the second round in Bengaluru, I have given my audition there and the results are yet to come.
Q: Did you have any negative experience in the competition?
A: Yes. In the second round of the auditions in Bengaluru, the organizers had given us the songs we had to perform in front of the judges. But during the evaluation, the judges asked us to sing different songs. We were not prepared and it was difficult. We were asked to sing only two lines of the song. It was not possible for me to show my dual talent to the judges in just two lines of the song. I requested the judges to allow me to show them my talent and they allowed me. I am grateful to the judges for giving me the opportunity.
Q: How do you manage your finances?
A: I work for a private company and earn enough to take care of my family. I like to make people happy with my talent, so wherever I perform the organizers give me whatever amount they deem fit and say that my talent is priceless. I have never faced any problem financially as my brothers and my wife’s family have always supported me whenever I was short of cash. My friends have also supported me. If I get selected for the next round of the competition, I am sure my family and friends will help. I am very lucky to have such a family and friends. I am forever thankful to them.
Q: Do you train others in singing?
A: I wish to teach children how to sing. Maybe in the coming days I will.
Q: The nation is going through a lot of debate on intolerance. What is your view?
A: Youth of the nation are nation-builders. They are wise enough to understand that we are the children of Mother India. There are talents hidden in people of all religions. We must strive to find these talents and give them an opportunity. Religion has its own place but it should not act as a filter for talents.
Q: Do you have any message for budding singers?
A: Singing is a universal talent. It is not restricted to any single religion or caste. No matter what difficulties arise, we as singers should always be eager to show our talent and make others happy. Never restrict your performances to a particular sect of people. Let it spread. Don’t always sing for the sake of money.