He has the classical richness of ace singers Yesudas and Unnikrishnan. His voice readily adapts itself to different kinds of music.
But it took more than 90 songs before he shot into fame with the number `Naane tholaintha kathai' in the movie Thavamai Thavamirundhu. Meet playback singer V. Prasanna.
"I am not new to playback singing. I have recorded private albums, including Hindu and Christian devotional songs. It was during one of these recordings that I met music directors Pradeep and Ravi, who booked me for their movie En Sagiye," says Prasanna.
That was the precursor to a string of movies for which he sang (Saravana, Kathal Azhivathillai, Engal Anna, Kuthu, Jore and Adithadi). Though `Annakili nee vaadi,' which he sung along with Jassie Gift in the movie Four Students, became popular, he was sidelined.
Classical music runs in his blood, as his great grandfather Palladam Sanjeeva Rao was a flutist and his grandfather Palladam P.R. Ramachandra Rao a violinist. He began as a violinist but somewhere along the way he decided to take up vocal music.
He learnt the basics of Carnatic music from K.V. Nataraja Bhagavathar, Coimbatore, S.R.V. Sharma and Santhanagoplan (Neyveli). He now learns Hindustani music from Sanjah Nadkarni of Mumbai who visits Chennai every month for 15 days.
"Any aspiring singer has to be versatile. Given a chance, I would like to learn even tribal and Arabic music. But Carnatic music is my first love," he confesses. Talking of singing for movies Prasanna says, "In playback singing one has the choice of experimenting, improvising and honing ones singing skills."
His eyes brighten when you talk about Abhang (Marathi) and Purandaradasa Padhagalu (Kannada).
"Generally, in classical music concerts singers confine themselves to songs of Thiagaraja Swamigal, Muthuswamy Dikshithar and Shyama Shastri. There are not many musicians who would sing an Abhang or a composition of Purandaradasa. But I would," he says.
He also listens to thumris and qawalis especially of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
His love for all kinds of music held him in good stead when he ventured into films. Thavamai Thavamirunthu gave his singing career a fillip. "Director Cheran was on the look out for a refreshing voice and I was asked to sing two lines from the song `Unnai Saranadainthen' and I was immediately selected," he says with pride.
He also has a clear understanding of the difference between classical and film music. "A lot of singers get confused. Film music is totally different. It has to be enjoyed and it is beyond any critical analysis."
Along with singing Prasanna also composes music. He has more than 95 compositions to his credit in which he has combined Carnatic and Hindustani music. He is now flooded with offers.
At present, he is working on K. Shankar's Veyyil, Mrs. Raghava, Kalinga, Idhu Kadhal Varum Paruvam, Achacho, Niram, Cleopatra and Yadhartham. He is also working with music director Yuvan Shankar Raja for Cheran's next film.
His pleasing demeanour and good looks are also fetching him acting offers. "If recognition as an actor would help my singing career I have no qualms about acting. But I may not opt to be a conventional hero. I am looking for an opportunity which does not cause any damage to the credibility I have earned as a singer," he says.
"A good singer has to be a good listener. Listening is different from hearing. It is more like meditation. You listen to all types of music. There should not be any restrictions," he advises aspiring singers.