That day a few minutes before the interview, although I was as usual geared up, I felt very anxious. But I was also very eager to meet her. Perhaps not in person, but even to have a good discussion, send an inspirational message to people through her, and learn much about her seemed exciting. The enthusiasm was unmanageable! The meeting was about to start. The last few moments saw me shivering. Then she entered and switched on her video. I was extremely anxious, and sitting in front of her, interviewing her, I felt as though I was levitating, even though I was nervously shuffling on my seat. I had seen so many of her videos, shows, and had heard a large number of her songs. This was the first time I was meeting her.
Uthara Unnikrishnan, who was virtually sitting in front of me, won her first National Film Award for the best female playback singer at the age of ten. It astonished me further when I heard that she actually sung the National Award-winning song, Azhagu, at the tender age of seven. She has also worked as a dubbing artist for multiple films. Her first such film was Lakshmi, which she recognizes as one of her favourite films.
Apparently, she used to hum songs whenever she heard them, and that eventually led her to start learning music at the age of six. Initially, she was only playing around, but it later turned out to be a passionate journey.
Celebrities used to attend award functions which is quite normal at least once in a month. Whenever she used to attend an award function she prepares herself to give her best every time to make the song sound perfect. Practice makes a man perfect which suits her a lot as it requires a lot when it comes to singing.
Whenever she went for recordings, she would take a lot of effort to present the song neatly and make sure the notes sound beautiful. Recording a song for a film is not supposed to be easy, let alone for a seven year old. One needs tremendous confidence and talent to do so.
Like any successful person, Uthara too has faced many challenges. When she recorded a song for the movie ‘Pisasu’, she had multiple difficulties. She had to get the notes right and she had lots of expectations from the team. But with hard work and immense practise, she was able to get it right.
With failure comes feedback. One must correct oneself using the feedback. And like anyone who overcomes problems easily, she started improvising her styles. That flexibility is what led to her fame and success.
While singing in cinema was a major contributor to her success, it was her interest in Carnatic and Hindustani music that aided it. Her divine knowledge was given to her by her gurus, Dr Sudhakar and Dr Pandit Nagaraj. She also got suggestions from her father, P. Unnikrishnan on how to make it sound more captivating. She remarks that all three of them would be patient enough to listen to her and correct her mistakes.
A role model is someone whose journey and distinction inspires others. But for Uthara there is no particular role model. She says that in singing, each one has their own styles of singing. Each person’s style is unique, and they are all amazing. She would listen to different versions of the same song to notice the difference between them
For those who are extremely talented like Uthara, academics is but an aide. Uthara’s parents have never pressured her to get full scores. Her decent marks sufficed for them. With her parents’ support, she had always been able to balance academics and her extra-curricular ventures.
She has also contributed to the cinema industry as a dubbing artist. Her first role was for the movie Lakshmi (2018). Mr Vijay was her mentor who helped her present her dialogues well. He gave her tips on how to improvise.
At the age of six, she performed on the Vijay Television Super Singer. The judges were asked to perform with their children, and her father was a judge. She recalls that she was considerably nervous. She says that it was a new experience performing before a crowd for the first time. But it was all made up for with her preparation and her father’s constant support.
Nobody can achieve much without hard work and determination. We all know about Usain Bolt and his record of nine seconds in running the hundred metres. But those crucial nine seconds made up the culmination of nine years of herculean work.
Similar to that, Uthara achieved the impossible when she sang a National Award winning song at the age of seven. But it was the fruit of immense work and practise.