Karthik Netha has started his life and career afresh. The lyricist is basking in the reception of his latest song ‘Yaarum Kaanadha’ for Fight Club, starring Uriyadi fame actor Vijay Kumar, that releases on December 15. The song, set to tune by Govind Vasantha, is written to the backdrop of teenage love in North Chennai. It has the yearning and energy of young love, and combined with Govind Vasantha’s strains of the violin, makes for a heady and addictive listen.
There is something different in the way Karthik writes these days, and he agrees. “The way I look at life has changed completely; I used to approach it with hatred. It has all dissipated now,” says the 42-year-old. Karthik struggled with alcohol addiction for years, and says he has been sober for four years now. “It took me 20 years to get here,” he says, adding that he started drinking from his teen years. Addiction came in the way of him getting work. “I’ve lost lots of big films. I would be unreachable on phone and would take off without notice,” he recalls.
But gradually, he took control of his life. “Gnaneswaran, a fellow inmate at a rehabilitation centre in Mumbai, introduced me to the school of thought of philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti,” he says, adding that he took refuge in the words of people such as Ramana Maharishi and Thayumanavar. “The more I read their works, I realised the problem lay in me,” he says. Reading healed him, and Karthik found that this reflected in his songs too.
People in the industry got news of his return and more work came his way. “Over these four years of sobriety, I have written 150 songs to different situations,” he says. “Somewhere in between, I had lost my way. But I’m back.”
Karthik says he can write anywhere, anytime. All it takes is 15 minutes for him to arrive at a song’s first sketch. “I listen to the tune a few times, and connect with some portion of it, after which a word comes to mind. I build on it as words pour. I don’t know where they come from, but I get paid for it,” he laughs. He can write on his mobile phone as well. “This is nothing compared to how Bharathiyar and Bharathidasan wrote at a time there was a war going on in the country,” he remarks. “I can write as long as the mind is tranquil.”
Karthik has written songs for several upcoming films, including the women-centric Kannagi starring Keerthi Pandian and Saba Nayagan that has Ashok Selvan in the lead. Both these films are scheduled to hit screens on December 15. “The three songs I wrote for Kannagi are close to my heart. They changed the way I look at women and helped me realise I too had a maternal instinct.”
The lyricist enjoys working with composer Govind Vasantha. “His music comes from a deep place. I am able to connect with the soul of his tunes, and write accordingly,” he says. Karthik is at his busiest at present and is writing every day. “Life is more meaningful now,” he says. “I stand as a musical note, waiting to turn into a tune for someone else.”