Actress-director-danseuse Hema Malini has always maintained a strong bond with culture and arts. Today sees the release of her maiden album, Soundaryalahiri. Set to tune by Ashit Desai, it has verses chanted by her, Shankar Mahadevan, Suresh Wadkar and Desai.
"I've always been fascinated with the sacred verses of this text written by Adi Shankaracharya. Since I'm a dancer, we're familiar with the Sanskrit texts, as we automatically learn them during rehearsals. This album is my offering to the divine mother Tripurasundari," says Hema, who has been thinking about this idea for the last two years.
She adds, "I've learnt music since this is a part and parcel of growing up in a traditional Tamil Brahmin family. In fact, I've even given three exams in music when I was young. While families in South India are familiar with Soundaryalahari, I wanted others to know of it too."
The album will have an introduction by Amitabh Bachchan. And, Hema says, her new offering can be used for meditation as well. "I've chanted some of the verses, while the others have been gracious enough to accept my offer and chant the rest," she adds.
Quiz her about the reaction to the album from her family and she says, "They all got to hear it. In fact, Dharamji was pleasantly surprised and asked me how I spoke such fluent Sanskrit. He is very supportive." She says many spiritual leaders, too, have been appreciative about her album. "When Sri Sri Ravishankar and Giri Maharaj got to know of this, they said that it is a privilege for someone to chant Soundaryalahari," she adds.
As for whether she plans to come out with more devotional albums, she says, "I've nothing planned. As of now, I just want people to listen to this one."
Soundaryalahari is available on Times Music across all major music and retail stores. Digital downloads also available on music websites.