It was an insult that first made Balabhaskar compose a song as a teenager. The violinist musician, who passed away on Tuesday morning, had shared this story in an interview earlier this year, with Dhanya Varma, for ‘The Happiness Project’.
He was in college then, at the Mar Ivanios in Thiruvananthapuram. And someone had asked him, ‘How could you live with just music? You can’t do that’. Balabhaskar was shocked to hear that. He came from a house where music was everything. His uncle, also his guru, had told him that a home with music did not even need prayers. Balu, as he was fondly called, wanted to prove it to the man who questioned him and to himself that he could live with music. And he composed three songs right away, earning the name as one of the youngest composers then, and released them through Magna Sound.
He never dreamt of composing for films back then, he says in the interview.
Eight years ago, in another interview, he had spoken about the not-so-great experiences he had when he tried composing for films. He liked his freedom, and that didn’t always come when you composed for films, when you composed for someone else. He was also short tempered, he confessed then. There were instances he’d throw his phone in anger and break it.
But perhaps that changed with the years that passed. Balu would appear in interviews with his soft spoken ways, but with a certainty that surprises you. When he brought out his first instrumental album ‘Let It B’ seven years ago, he had said with an unflinching smile, “I am a person who enjoys taking risks. Right from my heroic love marriage to this album, nothing has changed. And I believe if the chocolate is nice, the wrapper’s grandeur doesn’t matter.”
Another such allusion – a rather strong and disturbing one – comes in Dhanya Varma’s interview, when Balu draws parallels between a musician on stage and sex work. “Prostitution is a profession I feel really sad about. But I feel a musician on the stage sometimes faces the same situation. It doesn’t matter if you are having fun or not. You are getting paid. You do your job. And you go. So I could relate to that profession. In the end when I ask myself, have I gained anything other than money, the answer is no.”
So he became choosy and did what he knew he’d enjoy. He enjoyed the extremes of everything, he said. “You enjoy the depth of everything, what is the beauty in moderation?”
But there was a long way to go for him, Balu had said then. He used to feel embarrassed when people called him a maestro. “I promise myself that one day I will reach that position when I won’t feel embarrassed to hear someone call me a maestro, when I’d feel I deserve it.”
Watch the full interview: