Bindhumalini Narayanswamy

Music as soul-food: playing at the edges

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!”.