Awakin Calls » Bindhumalini Narayanswamy

Bindhumalini Narayanswamy: Singer, Composer, Artist
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Aug 21, 2021: Music as soul-food: playing at the edges


Watch: Video Recording

Read: Summary By Nisha Srinivasan  


Born in Chennai to Mrs. Visalakshi and Mr. Narayanaswamy into a musical and dance family, Bindhumalini has at once been embracing tradition and playing with its boundaries. She imbibed Carnatic music from the family, especially her grandmother Seetha Doraiswamy, a well known Jal Tarang instrumentalist. And went on to immerse herself in Hindustani music with Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan when he was 99.  A dual degree in Music and Arts, and post-graduation in Graphic Arts from the National Institute of Design added more dimensions to her evolution as an artist. In 2009, Bindhumalini married Vasu Dixit, a vocalist and guitarist who also specialized in Film and Video Communication at the National Institute of Design. Apart from acting, film-making and singing jingles, Vasu is a See full.

Born in Chennai to Mrs. Visalakshi and Mr. Narayanaswamy into a musical and dance family, Bindhumalini has at once been embracing tradition and playing with its boundaries.

She imbibed Carnatic music from the family, especially her grandmother Seetha Doraiswamy, a well known Jal Tarang instrumentalist. And went on to immerse herself in Hindustani music with Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan when he was 99. 

A dual degree in Music and Arts, and post-graduation in Graphic Arts from the National Institute of Design added more dimensions to her evolution as an artist.

In 2009, Bindhumalini married Vasu Dixit, a vocalist and guitarist who also specialized in Film and Video Communication at the National Institute of Design. Apart from acting, film-making and singing jingles, Vasu is a pillar of the folk-rock fusion music band Swarathma.

Bindhumalini is deeply influenced by the poems of saint Kabir. In her words “What attracted me was that Kabir touches every aspect of life. Happiness, bliss, renunciation. He becomes the ultimate being, the guru, the formless one that speaks. And his special poems, called ‘Ulat Bansi’, really made me fall in love with him. He is abstract no doubt, but somewhere something will catch you and the insight hits hard. Kabir’s songs started becoming meditative and helped break all the conditioning in my head. I started realising that the bhakti poets sang what they sang at that moment. Saint poets like Dikshitar or Thyagaraja did not plan to sing a verse, but it just happened out of that spiritual experience. That’s exactly what I feel with Kabir.” Her presence at Kabir Yatra and the Malwa Yatra is something she and her fraternity of artists look forward to.

Bindhumalini’s paintings are also an extension of her joyful dipping into the essence of life in the moment.

She is enthusiastic about collaborating with other artists. Along with her two kindred sisters Archana Sundararajan, a classical dancer from Madurai; and Jaya Madhavan, a writer from Chennai, Bindhumalini has performed a unique presentation on the Kabir, entitled ‘Ankath Kahani’, which translates as ‘Unsaid Story’. Along with Pallavi MD, Bindhumalini created the music and literary performance The Threshold that premiered at the Kochi Biennale. Bindhumalini's album ‛Suno Bhai’, a collection of Saint Kabir's poems, was another collaboration with with good friend Vedanth Bharadwaj. She has also scored music for the 2016 Tamil movie Aruvi with him. In Kannada, she first collaborated with Ananya Kasaravalli and scored music for the movie ‛Harikatha Prasanga’ which won Best Film award at the 9th edition of Bangalore International Film Festival, 2017. In 2018, Bindumalini composed music for the movie Naathicharami which brought her a National award. 

Bindhumalini relishes the power of telling stories from fresh perspectives and breaking through boundaries with the presentation of it.  The spirit is reflected in her lending voice to theatre productions like The Chakras and the musical narrative of Amir Khusrao, Khusrau Ke Rang.

In a radical response to the Covid second wave of 2021 in India, she started offering music and silence every day to be “Here for You”.  She has also been actively volunteering at Ashiyana children's home and Snehadhara Foundation.

As one of her friends at another inclusive space for special children puts it, “Bindhumalini is
what the doctor prescribes for our souls!”.


Five Questions for Bindhumalini
What Makes You Come Alive?

I come alive when there is a deep discussion on life or thinking about everything in life. The space where all the seemingly opposites just dissolve into nothing. When I see new leaves. When there is lovely music to groove to. I try and develop my music and expression to explore the inbetween spaces in life and music.

Pivotal turning point in your life?

Meeting my guru Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan

An Act of Kindness You'll Never Forget?

There are so many. One of them that I must mention is about Kavita. A generous person in Kolkata who opened the doors of her home to me to come and live whenever I went to Kolkata to train under my Guru. She made me part of her family. She fed me and gave me shelter when I needed it the most.

One Thing On Your Bucket List?

To go see the northern lights. And to learn to be trained to scuba dive.

One-line Message for the World?

Everything goes into nothing. Everything is as unimportant as it is important.

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