It’s not every day that you see a Chinese person singing Indian music with such skill. (It’s not even every day you see an Indian person doing it.) But the singer in the video above, which has won over social media, didn’t sing any old Indian song – he delivered a rendition of the classic Carnatic raga Shankarabharanam.
The impressive vocalist in the video is Chong Chiu Sen, a Malaysian-born Chinese. A renowned Carnatic singer, who also goes by the name Sai Madana Mohan Kumar, he was a long-time apprentice of prominent Carnatic musician DK Pattammal, who adopted him as her god-grandson and gave him the name he has been using for over a decade as a singer.
Sen’s parents were staunch devotees of Sai Baba and so from a young age, Sen was drawn towards bhajans in Sanskrit. But it wasn’t until a concert in Malaysia that he was exposed to Carnatic music. He was so mesmerised with the performance of the Veena maestro E Gayathri, that, on her suggestion, he came to India and learned Bharatanatyam as well as Carnatic vocals. The 34-year-old has been performing regularly since then.