A pioneer of Kannada Sugama Sangeetha and a household name, C Ashwath was a singer and composer who had carved a niche for himself among the music enthusiasts. He passed away on the 29th December of 2009 which ironically was his 71st birthday. In this piece, we try to look at the journey of C Ashwath.
The music composer was a major part of Bhavageete, the expressive poetry, in the Kannada Language. A genre which was quite popular only in Maharashtra reached the houses of Karnataka through the composition and the voice of C Ashwath.
C Ashwath was born on December 29, 1939, in Channarayapatna near Devanahalli. He was born into a family rich in traditional and cultural influences. His growing up years was spend in the Chamarajpete area of Bangalore.
After completing his higher education in Acharaya Pathashal School of NR Colony, he graduated in science from the historic National College Basavangudi. He also began his career in music by working under Devagiri Shankara Joshi in Hindustani Music.
Before he took up music as the only career, Ashwath made use of his degree and worked in Indian Telephone Industries for over 27 years. He gave up the job in 1992 and made music his only priority.
During the recording of the film Kakana Kote, Ashwath met L Vaidyanathn. That meeting led them to develop a strong relationship. Vaidyanathan provided orchestra for various films for Ashwath. Their collaborations include films like Anupama, Aalemane, Kaachana Mruga, Narada Vijay, etc.
Independently Scored Films
From the film Kakana Kote in 1976, Ashwath started scoring films single-handedly. Then on, he went onto score for films like Chinnari Muttha, Santha Shishunala Sharif, Mysuru Mallige, Kotreshi Kanasu, and few other films.
The Three Field Musician
Many musicians strive to develop a base for their kind of music, their genre of music. Ashwath is perhaps the only musician who has managed to develop a strong and loyal base for three different fields of music; Theatre, Sugama Sangeeta and Movies.
The popularity of his concerts
His concert, Kannadave Sathya, in Bangalore on 23rd April 2005 was attended by more than 100,000 people. The concert took place in Palace grounds. That’s also the first time a Kannada concert happened there.
He was awarded the Karnataka State Film Award for Best Music Direction for the film Chinnari Muttha in 1993. A year before that, in 1992, he received the Filmfare Award for Best Music Director for the film Mysore Mallige.
Body of Work
Overall, C Ashwath has composed music for almost 28 films, 35 plays and credited for 150 albums. As a singer, he has 75 albums to his credit. His most famous work remains the album Nesara Nodu which consisted of 21 drama songs.
What a journey, isn’t it? It is unfortunate that he isn’t with us today but his music lives forever. If you haven’t checked out his music, it is better late than never.