Unlocking rare record collection for music lovers

As a child, Srinivasan Mohan ‘broke’ many gramophone records owned by his father. But there was an opposite reaction to his naughtiness, of course, not instantly. He soon fell in love with the old records, and today, he maintains more than 6,000 gramophone records.

With rare records of bands like The Beatles and speeches of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohan today shares the records with those who are interested online through YouTube. “The lockdown gave me time to convert some rare gramophone records to digital audio files that I post online,” said Srinivasan, who has converted more than 100 such records during the lockdown, they include rare film songs, Carnatic and Hindustani concerts and speeches of world leaders.

“I grew up listening to songs as my family was into music. I was enamoured by the duo Vishwanathan-Ramamoorthy when I first heard their songs. It was a turning point and I soon started listening to songs in other languages. As I developed an interest in music, I started collecting old records. And that’s how it all began,” said Srinivasan, a hotelier based in Coimbatore.

Collecting old gramophone records is time consuming, but at the same time equally rewarding, said Srinivasan, who feels his hobby in a way preserves music. “We have advanced when it comes to technology. But at the same time, we have lost lots of music. We don’t have copies of many records. My idea is to pass this wealth of knowledge to the next generation,” he said.

A rare gem in his collection is by veteran playback singer P B Srinivas, who had written two songs in English when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. He sang one solo and the other with famous singer S Janaki. “The songs were recorded and sent to the US President. I have a copy of these rare songs. I still consider this a precious one because it was meant for a special event,” he said.

Maintenance is the toughest part, said Srinivasan, who has a separate house to store his records. The search for records has taken Srinivasan to the most unusual places in Chennai, Madurai and Kanyakumari. Many times, he found rare records lying abandoned at waste-paper stalls.

“Some people don’t know its value, and some others don’t want to preserve the records. I was in touch with many people across Tamil Nadu. Whenever someone finds a rare record, I get a call and then I go and collect it,” he said.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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