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Saturday, 27 September 2014

Leading an orchestra differently - KOLLAM

When Rakesh Rajnikanth was six months old, his parents and relatives discovered to their shock that he was blind and mentally challenged. Now, 32 years later, they are only too proud to say that he is in fact “differently able”.

Even now he is completely expressionless when hungry or thirsty and cannot do anything on his own.

But he sings so well that he can bring an entire audience to their feet. Friday marks a big day in the life of his family since he will be making his debut in Carnatic music at the Lakshminada temple here as part of the Navaratri celebrations.

It all began with his grandfather giving him a tape recorder 30 year ago as a toy. That was because he could only hear and other toys were of no use. From that age he began listening to songs, says his father, Rajnikanth, from a Gujarati family settled in Kollam for the past 60 years.

Some years later all of a sudden, Rakesh began to sing a song he regularly heard over the tape recorder and that surprised his family. It was a Kishore Kumar song and he sang it as though Kishore Kumar himself was singing. Then he went on to sing Mohammed Rafi and S.P. Balasuramaniam songs with the sound of the original singer.

His family members soon discovered that though blind and challenged, he can master any song in any language after hearing it a few times. With the karaoke machine, he times the songs with mathematical precision. This happens because he is an echolaliac, meaning that he echoes what he hears.

Singing with ease

Today, he even sings with ease the not-so-easy-to-sing ‘Marutamalai Mamaniye…’ of Madurai Somasundaram. Rakesh has a databank of hundreds of songs in six languages in his head and can play any one of them at will, improvising each song each time.

As news about his exceptional talent spread, the International People Leap Organisation promoted him and today, even though he is not aware of it, Rakesh leads a devotional song orchestra.

The orchestra has more than 80 bookings a year. He also sings Christian and Muslim devotional songs. The only two words he understands is “music concert” and on hearing them, he starts practising.

Source : The Hindu , 26th Sep 2014 

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