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Why a National Award to this singer has made the entire industry happy

Composer Sean Roldan shared the reason why singer Sundarrayar's National Award holds special meaning for the composer. 

Manigandan KR

When the National Awards were announced this year, a little known name called Sundarrayar featured on that list. Sundarrayar won the National Award for the song 'Jasmine U' from the Tamil film Joker (2016). Not many know that 'Jasmine U' is Sundarrayar's first song in the film industry, and also the only song that he has sung in films until this point.

It was only when director Sean Roldan chose to speak about the difficult circumstances under which Sundarrayar came and sang that song did people understand the significance of his achievement.

Talking to the media, Sean Roldan said, "The song that Sundarrayar sang was not originally there on our list. We (director Raju Murugan and I) had prepared two other songs. I went to that remote place in Dharmapuri along with the team. While they were hunting for locations, I was looking for singers. Several people there sang before me. Sundarrayar said he had written a song himself and offered to sing it for us. The moment he started singing, Raju Murugan had a smile on his face. I am someone who will not smile, but even I couldn't help smiling at the way he sang that song. It was extraordinary. We then broke for dinner. At that point, I suggested to Raju Murugan that we'll do a song with Sundarrayar. Let's go back to the city and discuss is what I said. We came back and composed this song in just an hour-and-a-half. More importantly, Sundarrayar sang it in 20 minutes flat. The man had not seen a studio in his life. He had not sung in a mike in his entire life before that.

The composer went on to add, "Initially, for the first two-three minutes, he found it difficult to sing. He had a powerful voice and so we asked him to stand a little away from the mike and deliver the song. He became a little uncomfortable. What I had noticed when he had auditioned for us in Dharmapuri was that even while singing, he was acting along with it. So, remembering that, I asked him to act and sing. Once we allowed him to do that, he finished the recording in just 15 minutes and asked, 'Is that all?'"

"It was a fantastic song and it is my favourite. I am very happy that he has won this award. He thoroughly deserves it. What I wish to underline at this point is the fact that I have never seen a person like him who can completely transform his emotions into a song. It is a big victory and I am very happy," Sean Roldan said.

Understandably, Sundarayyar turned emotional when he got to know he had won a National Award. He  was travelling in a train with the Manal Magudi theatre troupe of Kovilpatti, to Bangalore when he first got to know the news over phone. The singer, who is the youngest in a family of six siblings, is a performer in street plays in Vellisandhai village in Dharmapuri, one of the most backward districts of the state. He also works as a part-time teacher in a government school which pays him Rs7,000 per month.

Thanking the entire team of Joker, and music director Sean Roldan in particular, Sundarrayar said, "I am so happy that I have won a National Award for my very first song. I do not hail from a musical family. I am happy and proud of the fact that an ordinary person like me from an agricultural family has won a National Award. I wish to once again thank music director Sean Roldan who introduced me."