WINNING VOICE

ANUGRAHA PALAN
INDIA TODAY Internation (Bombay Edition) – JULY 21, 1997

SANJEEV RAMABHADRAN, 23, was on holiday in India when he heard about TVS Sa Re Ga Ma, a nationally-televised music competition on Zee TV. The recent graduate in Electrical Engineering from Princeton had never watched it, but all the same he recorded some of his favorite Mohammed Rafi songs and sent the tape to the programme organizers. The entry was accepted and Sanjeev breezed through the preliminary rounds to win the finals, which will be telecast next April.

This is not Sanjeev’s first brush with celebrity. Two years ago, he sang for Woody Allen’s film ‘Everyone Says I Love You’. “The scene is in a cab, the cab driver is an Indian and sings a Hindi song. You can hear me for about 45 seconds,” he says. The same year he also cut a CD of bhajans, Ram Nam Sukha Dham, with Kavita Krishnamurty.

Dallas-born Sanjeev has received most of his formal training, starting at the age of six, in Western classical violin. He was introduced to classical music almost accidentally, after his family stumbled on to a collection of Carnatic music LPs in a St. Louis music store. “Music is a very big part of my family. A lot of what I have in me is what my parents brought with them. They used to sing to me all the time,” he says. It was his father who introduced him to Hindi film music and Mohammed Rafi. “It became almost an obsession,” Sanjeev says with a laugh.

Though Sanjeev doesn’t have any fixed musical ambitions, he and seventeen-year-old brother Sachin, often perform light music concerts together. “Music always has to be something I enjoy first and foremost. Other things will follow,” he says.

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