Chennai based entertainment group, Paadhai's story from foolish idea to critical acclaim

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"..Those were the best day's of my life" - Bryan Adams, Summer of 69 

This one line, from the famous Bryan Adams song, has been the story of many a college band that had to go their separate ways after completing their course. There is however a minority, who stick together, even after college, to make something of their favorite pass time. Even here, the number of people who are successful in doing so is very little. And then, there are the likes of Paadhai - an entertainment group formed to express emotions through all forms of art.

After having made successful musicals, like Ranam Sugam and Neon Nagaram, Paadhai is now looking to make something out of this passion of theirs. We caught up with S. Chandrakasan, aka, Chandru, on this remarkable initiative by the Paadhai team, how it all began and where is it heading towards.

[Edited excerpts]

YS: How would you describe Paadhai in your own words? 

Chandru: Officially, Paadhai (meaning Path) is an entertainment group formed to express emotions through all forms of art. But on my own words, its a group of friends who are foolish enough to try out their dreams by all means possible!

YS: What was the intention behind starting Paadhai? Any moment of reckoning that you'd like to share with us?

Chandru: From college itself, me and my friends wanted to travel on a different path, that is, we wanted to live on our own terms rather than live on others terms. We had a music band without any real purpose. And for a long time, we were just having endless plans and discussions for our ideas to make our band worthwile. But one midnight, during one of our endless discussions in our room's terrace, we finally decided enough is enough, lets do this thing. So we immediately calculated all our savings then and there, made a plan to compose 17 songs in 2 weeks and print a novel in 1 month, and started implementing the plan next day itself. That was how Neon Nagaram (a musical novel) was born - in just one month.

Even now when i think of that day, it only makes me smile and wonder at the same time - smiling cos of our foolishness, and wonder on how we implemented our plan perfectly!

YS: Tell us a little more about your programs and projects. What are you trying to achieve with this? 

Chandru: We wanted to make youngsters who never read local-language (eg, Tamil) books to read by making them listening to music.

And that's how we came up with the idea of Musical Novel. Added to that, we also wanted to encourage people to buy music via CDs and online rather than just downloading it for free.

Its a totally new market - that is selling a book and music as a combo - but till now we have seen enough response for this package to move on to our 4th Musical Novel!

We have few other projects too in pipeline - but currently we are looking ahead for the release of Neon-Nagaram's english adaptation by Penguin India - "You Stole My Song". We have made a single music video for this novel - and waiting for the response of Musical Novel on a national level.

YS: Tell us a little about the team at Paadhai. 

Chandru: To be frank, members of team Paadhai are not extra-ordinarily talented or super-creative individuals. But the difference is that we as a team are just talented, creative and foolish enough to realise our ideas and dreams. In under 3 years, from a 3-member team to a 30-member strong team, i am proud to say that we can produce and market a novel, a music album or a musical novel from start to end in just under a month successfully.

 

YS: What is the reactions that you're receiving for Neon Nagaram and Ranam Sugam? 

Chandru: Initially people needed a bit of convincing and also explaining on the concept of Musical Novel. But once it took off, the response has been enormously positive. We have received rave reviews from all quarters both for the content of the musical novel and for the idea of musical novel too!

Just to give you an example, a gentleman old enough to be my grandfather, called up at around 12.30 AM after finishing Neon Nagaram - and talked about the musical novel experience for about an hour. There were lots of messages and calls from young fans, but this one personally tops my list of reactions.

YS: What is your vision for Paadhai? 

Chandru: Personally, i want Paadhai to grow into a successful business venture by producing creative ideas. As a group, we are looking forward to make a movie on our own - and prove to ourselves that anyone can be happy and contented by being foolish.

YS: What is your one piece of advice to others out there who are in the same dilemma as you were in, 3 years ago?

Chandru: It has been an exhilarating journey for us since that midnight discussion on the terrace, and we never regretted the decision we took. All i want to say is - life is too short for everything. So go ahead, don't plan too much or think too much about results, just become foolish enough to realise your dreams.

Inspired? Why don't you check out Paadhai and get in touch with them? 

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