Gurukiran: I am lucky to have completed a century
GURUKIRAN made a blockbuster entry into Sandalwood with A as his first album as composer, albeit after 10 years of struggling. The self-taught musician, who completes a century with Shivarajkumar's Ayushman Bhava, gets candid with Bangalore Times. What are your first memories of music?
As a kid, I was interested in music, but I never participated in musical activities. It was only during my pre-university days, when I was in Sathya Sai College, Bengaluru, that things changed with bhajan sessions and other events. My first tryst with singing happened during a college competition in my 1st PUC. I casually took part and won the third place. This boosted my confidence. Later, I was to compete in another competition, where I was given a higher pitch scale that I couldn't match. It was on that day that I took learning music as a challenge. For the next one year, I did not attend any classes. Instead, I spent all my time in the fine arts room in college. I taught myself to play all the instruments there. I used to observe the band that performed at my uncle's restaurant and then go to the fine arts room in the afternoon and learn to do it by myself. Tell us what brought you to films.
One of my biggest dreams in life was to have a visiting card that said playback singer. I never thought it would happen. However, I began singing in hotels. I
wanted to come out with an album, but both my attempts failed. I had recorded songs and was ready, but I could not release it as everyone was asking me for free distribution. I had then resigned to the fact that this was all over and thought it was a dead end. It was at that time that V Manohar, who had written lyrics for my album, asked me to join him as an assistant. This stint taught me the basics of music. After a few years, I accidentally landed A, as someone else had opted out. I'd been in the industry for 10 years and thought I should move back to Mangaluru and start a business. So, when this opportunity beckoned me, I looked at it as the last try. We worked on the music for a year. It was fun. And Upendra (the director of A) was a friend of mine since 1991. We never imagined the scale of success the album saw. Did you ever think you would complete a century as a composer?
I always thought that if I have to complete 100 films, it will take around 20 years and it has been exactly that. This is because one can do a maximum of 4-5 films in a year if you want to give your everything to an album. I had never ever thought I would actually be able to hit a century. I am lucky to have sustained myself for 20 years. Every week has been a test. What has been your biggest challenge?
The challenges have changed over the years. In the initial years, I would pick the best films. And when a song of mine was not picturised properly, I would get hurt. I used to sit and cry, too. Later, I understood that my job is done when I am done with music, as you gain experience. Now, every film is a new film, a new team, new
directors. I was lucky to work with a lot of new directors and actors. Working with them is the best feeling as it keeps me motivated. For everyone else, it is the same job, same office and same work for years. What excites me about my work is that it is a new experience with every new team. Every day of my job is unique. Do you have any favourites when you look back at your journey?
Looking back is one thing I never do. Once something is done, it is done. Looking back makes you feel guilty, as you will find minor faults in the song and feel bad. This is the reason I never listen to my songs. The other thing that works for me is that I have bad memory. So, I forget what I have done. However, people remind me of most of the songs in A, Upendra, Apthamithra and Jogi. When did you realise that you were completing a century?
It was around the end of last year when I realised that I was nearing my 100th film. I was waiting for the right time to announce that. It features one of my favourite heroes — Shivanna. Incidentally, my 50th film was also his — Sathya In Love. Back then, the film did well as did the songs. Add to that, this film is backed by Dwarakish sir, whose productions have been lucky for me. The same holds good for P Vasu sir, another lucky charm for me. The subject is a 100% musical one. I had recommended Yogish Dwarakish to work with Ilaiyaraajasir and I also told them that if he wouldn't do it, I would definitely do it. It is a challenging subject for any music director.