Chinna Ponnu dreams big

Though her voice is familiar to Tamils thanks to songs like 'Annanoda Paattu...' (Chandramukhi) and 'Naaka Mukka...' (Kadhalil Vizhundhen), Chinnaponnu's face became familiar only after the theme song of World Classical Tamil Conference was aired non-stop on television channels.

The theme song of the conference has brought together some of the best playback singers, Carnatic musicians and folk artistes too and Chinna Ponnu too is one of them.

Says the folk singer, "I was born at a small village in Sivagangai district. My father and mother used to sing folk songs related to agriculture and got appreciation from the village people. This I developed passion for music."

On her journey, she says, "I was introduced to Kottaisamy by Alagarsamy, a dedicated folk artiste. Kottaisamy developed my skills in singing and made me to sing many songs, which became popular. Later I was introduced to a researcher in folk songs of Tamilnadu, K A Gunasekaran who helped me turn into one of the recognised folk singers."

On her entering films, Chinna Ponnu says, "I got an opportunity through poet Arumathi in 2004. My first song was Annanoda Paatu.... in the film Chandramukhi. Then I sang many songs in the Tamil films. I was fully recognised by the song Nakku Mukka... for which I was awarded Golden and Edition Award. In 2010, I got another award for singing the super- hit song Theeka Theeka... in the movie Suriyan Satta Kalluri. My husband Kumar who is also a folk artiste provide me great support."

On bagging an offer to sing the 'Semmozhiaana Thamizhmozhaiaam...' song, she says, 'I felt greatly honoured that I could make my contribution too to the World Classical Tamil Conference. Then we got a chance at the second day of the conference where there was a cultural event."

What should be done to make folk arts get equal importance and prominence? To this question, she says, "First of all I request the media to give importance to it like the other arts. Folk arts too have certain set of syntax. So the researchers should focus on that. Foreigners can recognise us by giving opportunity to stage a programme in their countries. I request the audience to enjoy this art form with an eye on its subtle nuances."

She adds: "I feel that folk artistes can contribute to educational institutions. Initially, those folk artistes who received 'Kalaimamani' award can be a given an opportunity to teach in the Universities which have folklore departments."

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