Back at ISB

Wow !!!! Feels great to visit the ISB campus after a long gap. In fact on entering the campus I felt as though I was just living there till about a few days back. Went to almost all the hangout spots. Visited the DVD library where I have spent sufficient part of the time during my year at ISB scouting for movies. Looks like there hasn’t been much addition to the collection since the time my batch left. I couldn’t find much life on campus both yesterday as well as today as people were  mostly either busy attending pre-placement talks or holed up in the student villages.

Here is wishing everyone at ISB and other B-Schools all the best for placements. Just hang in there. Its just a matter of time before you get the job you like. Remember that the job you get just after B-School is not the end of it all. So even if you haven’t for some reason been able to find the (realistic) fit you are seeking immediately after your B-School, you will surely find one in due course of time.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan @ R.R.Sabha, Chennai

Venue: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Main Auditorium, East Mada St, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 27 Jan 2007

Organizer: Rasika Ranjani Sabha (R.R.Sabha)

Vocal: Sri. Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Violin: Sri S.Varadarajan

Mridangam: Sri Neyveli Venkatesh

List of songs:

1) chalamu sEyanEla (varnam) – hindOLam – Adi – tiger varadAchAriAr

2) kalayAmi – kannaDa – misra chApu – swAti tiruNAL (OS)

3) sundaratara dEham – pantuvarALi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANS)

4) paruvam pArka – danyAsi – rUpakam – Anai ayyA (A)

5) srI subramaNyAya – kAmbOji – tisra Eka – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (AST)

6) yAr pOi solluvAr – tOdi – misra chApu – ghanam krishna iyer

7) tEril ErinAn – kalyANi – rUpakam – pApanAsam sivan

8 ) tirisila giriyAr – chenchuruTTi – Adi – ??

9) kAdi mOdi (tiruppugazh) – shankarAbharaNam – ** (see below) – aruNagirinAthar

10) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

** each avartanam of talam for song 9 was put as two tisra chApus followed by a kanDa chApu followed by a kanDa ekam

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan never ceazes to amaze me. What a repertoire of songs !! What quality raga alapanas !!! What an imagination !!!! I could just go on and on. One thing I think will surely happen is that about 10-15 years from now, there will be at least 10 songs that would be associated with his name for having been popularised by him.

Sri Sanjay began this wonderful concert of his with the awesome hindOLam raga varnam of Sri Tiger Varadachariar, one of my personal favorites. The relatively short pantuvarALi alapana that came after the song kalayAmi was beautifully executed by both Sri Sanjay and Sri Varadarajan. It was as though a crash course in pantuvarALi alapana singing was being provided for the benefit of rasikas and students of music. The alapanas, neravals, kalpana swarams, song renditions etc can all be described with the most choiciest adjectives and would yet probably fall short of describing the way Sri Sanjay performed.

Sri Varadarajan and Sri Neyveli Venkatesh have played in so many concerts now for Sri Sanjay and this, along with the fact that they are playing for such a top class performer would obviously be extracting the best out of them. Sri Venkatesh played a very good taniavartanam in tisra Ekam comprising the chatusra and misra naDais.

A very very satisfying concert indeed !!!!!

Gayathri Girish @ R.R.Sabha, Chennai

Venue: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Main Auditorium, East Mada St, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 27 Jan 2007

Organizer: Rasika Ranjani Sabha (R.R.Sabha)

Vocal: Smt. Gayathri Girish

Violin: Sri H.N. Bhaskar

Mridangam: Sri Poongulam Subaramaniam

Ghatam: Sri N. Guruprasad

List of songs:

1) sAmi ninnE (varnam) – pantuvarALi – Adi – shaTkala narasayyA (OS)

2) enna solli – kAnaDA – Adi – ambujam krishnA

3) marakata vaDivE (viruttam) – lalitA

     nannu brOvu – lalitA – misra chApu – syAma sAstri

4 ) sandEhamunu – ramAmanOhari – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

5) nAn enna tavam – khamAs – Adi – UthukkADu venkaTa subbaiyer

6) srI rAjagOpAla – sAvEri – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ANST)

7) unnai anri – bhavAni – rUpakam – m.m. danDapANi dEsikar

8 ) gAyati vanamAli – gAvati – Adi – sadAsiva brahmEndra

9) dhIm tArE nArE nArE (tillAnA) – hamsAnandi – Adi – harikEsanallUr muthiAh bhAgavatar

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

A delightful concert with shades of TNS appearing at a lot of places. Certainly an artist who looks to be on her way to making it really big in the field.

T.M.Krishna @ R.R.Sabha, Chennai

Venue: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Main Auditorium, East Mada St, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 26 Jan 2007

Organizer: Rasika Ranjani Sabha (R.R.Sabha)

Vocal: Sri T.M. Krishna (TMK)

Violin: Sri Vittal Ramamurthy

Mridangam: Sri B. Ganapatiraman

Ghatam: Sri N. Guruprasad

List of songs:

1) valachi (varnam) – rAgamAlikA – Adi – kothavAsal venkaTrAma iyer

2) bhakti bichamiyyavE – shankarAbharaNam – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (OS)

3) mundu vENuka – darbAr – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

4) rAga sudhA rasa – AndOLikA – Adi – thyAgarAja

5) vAtApi gaNapatim – hamsadwani – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ANST)

6) kANavEnDAmO – srIranjani – rUpakam – pApanAsam sivan

7) pibarE rAmarasam – yamunAkalyANi – Adi – sadAsiva brahmEndra

8 ) krishNam kalaya – mukhAri – Adi – nArAyaNa tIrtar

9) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

One of the many reasons I admire TMK is the fact that despite being one of the busiest musicians around giving so many concerts, he manages to make each one of them a success. Today’s concert was yet another example of this. TMK started with the navarAgamAlikA varnam and went on to sing Sri Thyagaraja’s “bhakti bichamiyyavE” with kalpana swarams put at the pallavi line. An elaborate alapana of darbAr followed this serving as a prelude to a moving rendition of “mundu vEnu“. A fast paced GNB style “rAga sudhA rasa” in AndOLikA came next. It had one of these beautiful sangathis for the words “nAdOnkAra swara” in the charaNam which I can’t remember havind heard anyone sing before. What followed next would have surely taken many by surprise. Hamsadwani as the main raga for the day !! A detailed raga alapana was followed by “vAtApi” which I have never before heard being sung anywhere else but at the beginning stages of a concert. TMK did a great job with the alapana, with the kriti rendition and with the neraval and kalpana swarams which were put at “parAdi chatvAri vAgAtmakam, praNavaswarUpa vakratuNDam“. I especially loved the slow speed kalpana swarams where TMK kept traversing the lower octave and the lower half of the normal octave.

Sri Vittal Ramamurthy followed TMK well and played in a somewhat restrained fashion. Sri B.Ganapatiraman and Sri Guruprasad were brilliant. Kudos to Sri Ganapatiraman for playing so beautifully for all the songs !! The taniavartanam in Adi talam played by the percussion duo comprised the chatusra and tisra naDais. Here also Sri Ganapatiraman played some really difficult sollus with unbelievable ease.

Remember the famous dialogue from the Bollywood blockbuster Sholay “pachas kos door gaon mein jab koi bacha rota hai toh maa kehti hai: so jaa bete warna Gabbar aa jaayega“. In TMK concerts, whenever a mama or mami gets up during the mangalam, his/her neighbours tell him/her: “Baith jaao warna TMK ko gussa aa jaayega (sit down, else TMK will get angry);-)

Sanjay Subrahmanyan @ Muthamizh Peravai, Chennai

Venue: Satguru Gnanananda Hall, Narada Gana Sabha, TTK Road, Chennai

Date: 25th Jan 2007

Festival: Muthamizh Peravai’s 31st Music Festival

Vocal: Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Violin: Sri S. Varadarajan

Mrudangam: Sri Neyveli Venkatesh

Ghatam: Sri Trichy Murali

List of songs:

1) undan pAda (varnam) – shankarAbharaNam – kanDa aTa – madurai subramNya iyer (O)

2) chandiran oLiyil – malayamArutam – misra chApu – subramaNya bhArati (ONS)

3) aDuthAnai – yadukulakAmbOji – tisra tripuTa – tirunAvukkarasar (AS)

4) kA guhA shanmugA – kOsalam – rUpakam – kOTIswara iyer (ANS)

5) karuNAlaya nidhiyE – hindOLam – Adi – vEdanAyakam piLLai

6) thillai chidambaramE – kApinArAyaNi – Adi – mArimutha piLLai (O)

7) yArO ivar yArO – bhairavi – Adi – aruNAchala kavi (AST)

8 ) kunrin mIdhu ninru kanDEn (?) – khamAs – rUpakam – ?? (O)

9) batti mudalAm – rAgamAlikA (Ahiri, hamIrkalyANi & suruTTi) – misra chApu – vEdAnta dEsikan (O)

10) mAlOn maruganai (viruttam) – kAmbOji, sAvEri, bEgaDa, shanmukhapriyA, mOhanam & jOnpuri

      mAlAsai kObam – jOnpuri – Adi – aruNagirinAthar

11) vAzhiya senthamizh – madyamAvati – Adi – subramaNya bhArati

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan sang an interesting, exclusive Tamil compositions concert for Muthamil Peravai at the Narada Gana Sabha. He was at his usual best, delivering a quality performance once again, ably assisted by the accompanying artists. Everything about the concert was so good except for the fact that the auditorium folks had probably decided to give a feeling of the North Indian winter to Chennai folks assembled there. It was biting cold inside the auditorium, at least in the area where I was sitting.

Sri Neyveli Venkatesh and Sri Trichy Murali played a taniavartanam in Adi talam comprising chatusra and sankIrna nadais and a kuraippu in tisra nadai.

Papanasam Ashok Ramani @ TTD Info Center, Chennai

Venue: TTD Information Center, Venkatanarayana Road, T. Nagar, Chennai

Date: 23 Jan 2007

Vocal: Vid. Papanasam Ashok Ramani

Violin: Vid. Lalgudi G. Vijayalakshmi

Mrudangam: Vid. Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman (UKS)

Morsing: Vid. Srirangam Kannan

Konnakkol: Vid. Konerirajapuram Varadarajan

List of songs:

1) nI inda mAyam (varnam) – danyAsi – Adi – pApanAsam sivan

2) jaya jaya – nATTai – kanDa chApu – purandaradAsa (S)

3) teratIyagarAdA – gowLipantu – Adi – thyAgarAja

4) venkaTaramaNA – latAngi – rUpakam – pApanAsam sivan (ANS)

5) gAnamUrtE – gAnamUrti – Adi – thyAgarAja

6) hechariga – yadukulakAmbOji – kanDa chApu – thyAgarAja (AST)

7) srIpatE – nAgaswarAwaLi – Adi – thyAgarAja

8 ) koluvamaragadA – tODi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

9) jagadOdhAraNA – kApi – Adi – purandaradAsa

10) sivaperumAn krupai – suruTTi – Adi – pApanAsam sivan

11) shAntAkAram (viruttam) – sindhubhairavi

venkaTAchala nilayam – sindhubhairavi – Adi – purandaradAsa

12) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Sri Ashok Ramani started his concert with Sri Papanasam Sivan’s beautiful varnam in danyAsi, which I am hearing for the first time. latAngi and tODi alapanas were very well executed by both the vocalist and violinist. After Sri Ashok Ramani sang the yadukulakAmbOji kriti, Sri UKS launched himself into one of the best taniavartanams I have heard for a long time now. Playing a good taniavartanam in kanDa chApu in the kalapramanam at which the song was sung is a very difficult task and Sri UKS simply excelled at that. What naada and what clarity even while playing lightning fast patterns !!!! He played the chatusra and tisra naDais. Sri UKS and Sri Ashok Ramani discussed something on the stage after the tODi alapana got over, the result of which was that Sri Konerirajapuram Varadarajan, who was present in the audience, was called on stage to do konnakkOl for the tODi kriti as well as play the taniavartanam after the kriti along with Sri Srirangam Kannan. The taniavartanam here comprised of chatusra and tisra nadais with Sri UKS joining in the end to do the kuraippu and play the mOrA and kOrvai. This is the first time I am hearing the use of konnakkOl in a vocal concert.

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan/Vijayalakshmi @ Hamsadhwani, Chennai

Venue: Youth Hostel, Indira Nagar, Adyar, Chennai

Date: 21 Jan 2007

Organizer: Hamsadhwani

Violin Duet: Vid. Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan &  Vid. Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi

Mridangam: Vid. Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman

Ghatam: Vid. E.M.Subramaniam

List of songs:

1) nIvE gatiyani (varnam) – naLinakAnti – Adi – lAlguDi g. jayarAman (O)

2) aparAdamula – rasALi – Adi – thyAgarAja (OS)

3) thyAgarAja yOga – Anandabhairavi – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (AS)

4) aparAdamula- latAngi – Adi – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer (AS)

5) eppaDi manam – husEni – misra chApu – aruNAchala kavi

6) sItammA mAyammA – vasantA – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (O)

7) eduTa nilachitE – shankarAbharaNam – Adi – thyAgarAja (AST)

8 ) nI dayarAdA – vasantabhairavi – rUpakam – thyAgarAja

9) rAgam tAnam pallavi – saraswati – kanDa tripuTa (kanDa gati) (T)

    pallavi wordings: “sabarI girIsham sadA bhajAmi, shAstAram harihara sutam”

   kalpanA swarams in saraswati, kEdAram, sAvEri, madyamAvati, sahAnA, danyAsi, sAmA, kalyANavasantam , rEvati & dEsh

1o) tunga tarangE – hamsadwani – Adi – sadAsiva brahmEndra

11) enna solli – kAnadA – Adi – ambujam krishnA

12) thillAnA – brindAvani – Adi – lAlguDi g. jayarAman

13) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram & madyamAvati – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Vid. Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan & Vid. Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi presented a melodious, thoroughly enjoyable violin duet concert. What was most impressive was the way they played the compositions so beautifully as though they were singing it with full bhava rather than playing it on the violin. If you knew the compositions, you could just sit there, sing along if you wanted and note what all beautiful sangathis could be put. If you didn’t know the kritis, you could simply sit there and enjoy the melodious journey.

Sri Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan’s shankarAbharaNam alapana was the hallmark of the concert. Neraval was conspicuous by its absence. Sri Umayalpuram Sivaraman was in top class form and he played a gem of a taniavartanam along with Sri E.M. Subramaniam for the shankarAbharaNam kriti. The percussionist duo also played a short taniavartanam for the ragam tAnam pallavi.

The ragam tanam pallavi in the raga saraswati was set to kanDa jAti tripuTa tALam in kanDa gati. The pallavi wordings were “sabarI girIsham sadA bhajAmi, shAstAram harihara sutam”. The pallavi line was structured as follows (B=beat, C=count; 1 avartanam of the talam = 22.5 B = 22.5×4 C = 90 C): (eDuppu = 0.5B after samam) sa (1.5B) ba (1.5B) rI (1B) gi (1B) rI (1.5B) sham (1.5B) sa (0.5B) dA (1.5B) bha (0.5B) jA (1.5B), mi (+gap=3B)  shA (1B) stA (1B) ram (1B) ha (0.5B) ri (1B) ha (0.5B) ra (1B)  su (0.75B) tam (0.75B).

Sanjay Subrahmanyan @ Bhakta Anjaneyar Temple, Chennai

Venue: Bhakta Anjaneyar Temple, Alarmelmangapuram, Chennai

Date: 20 Jan 2007

Organizer: Guru Kaingarya Sabha

Vocal: Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Violin: Sri S. Varadarajan

Mridangam: Sri K. Arun Prakash

List of songs:

1) ninnu jUchi – sowrAshTram – Adi – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer

2) Ela nI dayarAdu – aTANA – Adi – thyAgarAja

3) toli janmamuna – bilahari – kanDa chApu – thyAgarAja (ANS)

4) rAmA nIvEgAni – nArAyaNi – Adi – thyAgarAja (AS)

5) kA vA vA – varALi – Adi – pApanAsam sivan

6) mA jAnakI – kAmbOji – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) banTurIti – hamsanAdam – Adi – thyAgarAja(ANS)

8 ) kOri sEvimparArE – kharaharapriyA – Adi – thyAgarAja (AST)

9) vizhikku thuNai (viruttam) – sindhubhairavi

manadir kugandadu – sindhubhairavi – Adi – tanjAvUr shankara iyer

10) mAvalla kAdammA – mAnD – Adi – chittUr subramaNya piLLai

11) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

As I was searching for Bhakta Anjaneyar Temple, the venue of the concert in Alarmelmangapuram, I suddenly heard strains of nadaswaram music coming from one of the directions. I was kind of drawn to the music instantly. A few steps in the direction in which the music came from admiring the very good sunAdavinOdini alapana that was being played led me to the temple. As I entered, I was greeted by the start of Sri Mysore Vasudevachar’s kriti “dEvAdi dEva” played by a nadaswara vidwan who was seated in one corner of the small temple. What a good music being served as an appetizer to the great music to follow I thought !!

And what a great music it was on offer in the concert that followed from a team that has time and again given us the same great music !!! Beginning with beautiful renditions of “ninnu jUchi” and “Ela nI dayarAdu“, Sri Sanjay moved on to do a grand, detailed raga alapana of bilahari. Sri Varadarajan followed suit with a slightly smaller but divine alapana of the same raga. The kriti “toli janma” was taken up and neraval and kalpana swarams were beautifully put at “rAgi pairula chenta“. A very good elaboration of nArAyaNi followed. Both Sri Sanjay and Sri Varadarajan almost explicitly sang/played the start of the song “rAmA nIvEgAni” at the end of the alapana to indicate the raga.

The start of the hamsanAdam alapana triggered in me hopes of Sri Sanjay taking up “kalyANa rAmA“, one of my favorite songs in this raga. However, that was not to be the case and Sri Sanjay instead sang “banTurIti” brilliantly. The piece de resistance “kOri sEvimparArE” was rendered brilliantly after a detailed exposition of kharaharapriya. Sri Arun Prakash played a short but delightful tani comprising of chatusra and kanDa nadais. The highlight of the tani was the korvais he played, especially the ones that came at the end of the chatusra nadai and at the end of the tani itself.

mAvalla kAdammA” sung to some explosive accompaniment provided by Sri Arun Prakash and the traditional mangalam that followed it brought the awesome concert to an almost abrupt end.

Voices Within – Book Review

There have been sincere efforts made in the past to document the life of masters of Carnatic Music. However less in number these attempts have been, they have given us, in the absence of other documentation and sources, insights into the life and times of the masters and the changes in Carnatic music over the ages whenever they have been published. Four such books that I have read in the past many times over and that immediately come to my mind now are Great Masters of Carnatic Music 1930-1965 (Indira Menon, Indialog Publications Pvt. Ltd), The Madras Quartet – Women in Karnatak Music (Indira Menon, Roli Books), Carnatic Summer – Lives of twenty great exponents (Sriram.V, EastWest Books Pvt. Ltd) and MS – A life in Music (T.J.S. George, HarperCollins Publishers India). “Voices Within“, which can be termed as the latest offering in this series, by Bombay Jayashri, T.M. Krishna and Mythili Chandrasekar (Matrka, 2007) was released in Chennai yesterday.

voices_within.jpg

In the words of the authors themselves – “It is not a collage of biographies“, which is where perhaps it seeks to be different from the earlier attempts. Which is also why I was perhaps a tad disappointed on reading it as I was expecting it to chronicle the lives of the masters in a greater detail. The amount of written matter inside the book also pales in comparison to its size itself. Having said that, the book contains some details of the lives of the masters not covered in the other books I named earlier, to get a sample of which you can read this article that appeared in The Hindu’s Sunday Magazine a few days back. The article contains almost all the text that is available in the book on Sri Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar. The voices “from the heart” of the authors that are insterspersed with the other content and the many photographs that adorn the pages are a welcome addition and form an integral component of the book.

The choice of just seven maestros from the many that lived and breathed Carnatic Music might raise several questions about the omission of the rest. The musicians that individuals feel should have also been included will also vary from individual to individual, which points to the fact that the line has to be drawn somewhere. Instead of criticizing why only these seven, as has been happening in some forums I have visited on the internet, it is more constructive and beneficial to savour what additional material has been contributed about these seven and move on. I feel the authors have done a very good job given the tough task of selection of a limited set of maestros to represent and given the time it takes to research and collect material on each one of them due to non-availability of ready material to refer from.

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The seven maestros who have been talked about in the book are:

  1. Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, the margadarshi. For introducing the modern day kutcheri format and forever changing it.
  2. T.N. Rajarathnam Pillai, the one and only Nagaswara Chakravarthi, The Last Emperor. For fighting to give his instrument its rightful place and whose influence went way beyond his instrument.
  3. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, The Grand Old Man of Carnatic music, with the longest presence on stage. For influencing not only the music, but also its organisation and administration.
  4. G.N. Balasubramaniam, the revolutionary. For a style and bani that opened unknown vistas and generated a new kind of audience fervour.
  5. Palghat Mani Iyer, the first and last word in South Indian percussion, timekeeper to the entire system.
  6. M.S. Subbulakshmi, The First Lady. For giving Carnatic music a place not only in the national fabric but also in the international arena.
  7. T.R. Mahalingam, maverick, genius. For going where few before him had dared to tread. And for unequivocally giving a completely new dimension to a piece of bamboo called the flute.

The book is priced at Rs. 1900 per copy and was available at a discounted price of Rs. 1710 per copy outside the Music Academy after the launch function.

(Pictures courtesy: The Hindu)

Voices Within – Book Lauch Function, Chennai

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Voices Within (Carnatic Music – Passing on an inheritance)“, the book written by Bombay Jayashri, T.M. Krishna – “young practitioners looking at the lives of the masters through the prism of their own experience” and Mythili Chandrasekar, was released in Chennai in a grand function held at The Music Academy. The whole exercise was very well planned and executed I must say. From the choice of The Music Academy as the venue to auctioning the first copy of the book for a social cause to having copies of the book available for perusal and purchase outside the Academy, it was all a very good marketing exercise. The setting done on stage and the lighting effects used were very good.

The program started with a group of children aged between 8 to 13 (?) years, presenting gems sung/played by the masters with T.M. Krishna and Bombay Jayashri taking turns to introduce the masters before the song associated with them began. The “concert” the youngsters presented was simply too good. The extended round of applause they achieved in the nearly packed Academy was testimony to their brilliant performance. The choice of youngsters to present the songs I felt fit very well with the title of the book itself which has the phrase “Passing on an inheritance” in it. The following are the details of the songs presented:

Artists (I hope I got the names right):

Vocal: Anahita (disciple of Sri Chitravina N. Ravikiran), Apurva (disciple of Sri Chitravina N. Raviiran), Subhashree (disciple of Smt. S. Sowmya), Kalashri (disciple of Sri S.P. Ramh), Karthik Narayan (disciple of Sri Rajkumar Bharati), Ashwin (disciple of Sri Chitravina N. Ravikiran)

Violin: Rajeev (disciple of Kum. A. Kanyakumari)

Mridangam: Praveen Kumar (disciple of Sri Guruvayur Dorai)

Tambura: Shruthi & Sahana

Songs presented:

Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar – “The First Crossing”

1) vanajAkshi (varnam) – kalyANi – Adi – rAmanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer – “Element of Pageantry”

2) dEva dEva – mAyAmALavagowLa – rUpakam – swAti tiruNAL

T.R. Mahalingam – “Reluctant Genius”

3) sujana jIvana – khamAs – rUpakam – thyAgarAja

G.N. Balasubramaniam – “Pleasure Jaunt”

4) rAga sudhA rasa – AndOLikA – Adi – thyAgarAja

T.N. Rajarathnam Pillai – “Rebel King”

Palghat Mani Iyer – “Celestial Drummer”

5) chEsina della – tODi – Adi – thyAgarAja

M.S. Subbulakshmi – “Windsong”

6) brUhi mukunDEti – kurinji – Adi – sadAsiva brahmEndra

7) maitrIm bhajata – yamunAkalyANi – Adi – chandrasEkharEndra saraswati

The tODi alapana done by Karthik Narayanan (?) was simply brilliant. The range his voice traversed and the fast prayogas that he used were simply unbelievable. The mridangam accompaniment provided by Praveen Kumar was just too good. What clarity of sollus and what a beautiful accompaniment for songs !!!! All these children certainly have a great future in carnatic music if they diligently pursue it.

After this “concert”, extracts from the book were read out by two theatre personalities (?) whose names I think were Yog and Shruti Gupta. A short film of the presentation of the first copy of the book in Delhi to the President of India Sri A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was then shown. This was followed by a beautiful short movie titled “Shadows on the Wall and Voices Within” made for the book by Rajiv Menon. The movie was very well made and it would have been good had it been made available in a CD form with the book itself for purchase.

The program culminated with an auction of the first copy of the book for charity which I think finally fetched Rs. 50,000 and with vote of thanks by Smt. Bombay Jayashri and Sri T.M. Krishna. The book was available for purchase outside the Academy at a discounted price of Rs. 1710 per copy.

(Pictures courtesy: Matrka & The Hindu websites)

Sanjay Subramaniam @ Alwarpet Asthika Samajam, Chennai

Venue: Asthika Samajam, Venue Colony, Alwarpet, Chennai

Date: 11 Jan 2007

Organizer: Asthika Samajam

Vocal: Sri Sanjay Subramaniam

Violin: Sri S. Varadarajan

Mridangam: Sri K. Arun Prakash

List of songs (partial):

1) marachitlunDE (varnam) – bEgaDa – kanDa aTa – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer (O)

2) jaya jaya – nATTai – kanDa chApu – purandaradAsa

3) pArvatI nAyakA – bowLi – Adi – swAti tiruNAL (A)

4) shivE pAhimAm ambikE – kalyANi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANS)

5) kanukonu sowkhyamu – nAyaki – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (A)

6) vazhi maraithirukkudE – nATTakurinji – misra chApu – gOpAlakrishna bhArati (ANST)

7) nijagAdasA – sindhubhairavi – Adi – jayadEva (A)

8 ) summA summA varugumA sukham – aTANA – Adi – ghanam krishna iyer (O)

9) ADum chidambaramO – behAg – Adi – gOpAlakrishna bhArati

10) vaNNamAdangaL – rAgamAlikA – Adi – periyAzhwAr

……

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

I am a bit late in posting this but then better late than never.

Sanjay Subramaniam rules !!!!! Sri Sanjay once again proved why he is the reigning king among Carnatic vocalists today with this beautiful concert of his. Starting with the rarely heard bEgaDa aTa tALa varnam, he went on to sing a fast paced “jaya jaya jaya jAnakI kAnta” in nATTai. The first alapana of the day was of bowLi. Both this as well as the kriti that followed were well sung. Next came a cracker of an alapana of the raga kalyani. Sri Varadarajan on the violin also followed suit with a very good alapana. The kriti “shivE pAhimAm ambikE” which is again not much heard in concert circuits these days was very well rendered. A moving raga alapana of nAyaki and a moving rendition of the kriti “kanukonu sowkhyamu” followed this. “vazhi maraithirukkudE” – the piece de resistance came next. What a beautiful and detailed alapana of nATTakurinji it was !!!! Even though I am so used to hearing the lovely version of the same song sung by Sri T.M. Krishna in tODi, I could also appreciate the nATTakurinji version of it primarily due to Sri Sanjay’s beautiful rendition. Many singers have sung this song in nATTakurinji in the past but I think Sri Sanjay’s version was simply one of the best. I had to leave the concert when Sri Sanjay was singing periyAzhwAr’s “vaNNamAdangaL“. The above song list is thus partial.

When the violins sang

Venue: Raga Sudha Hall, 85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 17 Jan 2007

Organizer: Naada Inbam

Violin Duet: Sri R.K. Sriramkumar & Sri S. Varadarajan

Mridangam: Sri K. Arun Prakash

List of songs:

1) vanajAkshA (varnam) – rItigowLa – kanDa aTa – vINA kuppaiyer (O)

2) kanjadaLAyatAkshI – kamalAmanOhari – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ONS)

3) sujana jIvana – khamAs – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (A)

4) birAna varAlichi – kalyANi – Adi (tisra gati) – syAma sAstri (ANS)

5) inta sowkhya – kApi – Adi – thyAgarAja (A)

6) viDajAladurA – janaranjani – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) pakkala nilabaDi – kharaharapriyA – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (ANST)

8 ) ini enna pEchu – sahAnA – rUpakam – subbarAmayyA (O)

9) kanDu danya – behAg – rUpakam – purandaradAsa ? (O)

10) anri ulagam aLandAi – sindhubhairavi – Adi – AnDAL (A)

11) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

It was a day when the violins literally sang. Two of the best violin artists of the present generation and celebrated accompanists – Sri R.K. Sriramkumar and Sri S. Varadarajan, came together and presented a violin duet concert at the Raga Sudha Hall in Mylapore. The concert started with a beautiful rendition of one of my favorite varnams, the rItigowLa aTa tALa varnam. It came very close to the best rendition of this varnam I have heard so far (by Sri T.N. Seshagopalan). Then came a beautiful outline of kamalAmanOhari done by Sri R.K. Sriramkumar followed by the kriti “kanjadaLAyatAkshi“.  A very good alapana of khamAs by Sri R.K. Sriramkumar followed this which was praised effusively by violin maestro Sri T.N. Krishnan, who was present among the audience for the first few set of songs. kalyANi and kharaharapriyA alapanas were done by Sri S. Varadarajan and to me the kharaharapriya alapana was the best portion of the great concert. Every song was played as though someone was sitting there and singing it.

Albeit belonging to different schools and having not given many public performances (to my knowledge) in the past, the two violinists played as though they have been performing as a pair for years together. They played in almost perfect unison and supported each other very well wherever required. I also somehow felt that they played with a lot of restraint. Personally, I have observed them take a lot more liberties and bring their imagination a lot more to the forefront when they play alapanas as accompanists. May be the presence of Sri T.N. Krishnan played a part in this.

Sri K. Arun Prakash was his usual self, tapping where required and enhancing the overall quality of the concert with his excellent accompaniment. The organizer SVK has this habit of summarizing the concert and commenting on the performance after the main item of the day gets over. He sometimes speaks very trickily and it is difficult to judge whether he is taking someone’s ass or praising him/her. He summarized Sri Arun Prakash’s  playing as being highly efficient i.e, “something that gives maximum effect with minimum usage” ;-)  Today however, he clarified on which side he is when he said he is personally a fan of Sri Arun Prakash.

Sri Arun Prakash played the taniavartanam in misra chApu very intelligently. The taniavartanam was given in “pakkala nilabaDi” at “manasuna dalachi” which starts 3 counts (3/4th of a beat) after samam. To my (limited) knowledge, with this eduppu, it is not possible to play any naDais and end them with a kOrvai other than the chatusra naDai.   Initially Sri Arun Prakash played a small chatusra naDai portion followed by a tisra naDai portion without any kOrvais. He played some interesting patterns in the tisra naDai. One of the patterns went like this (1 avartanam of misra chapu = 3.5 beats = 14 counts) : two lengths of that pattern which would have come to 10.5 beats (3 avartanams) in normal chatusra naDai were played within two avartanams (which is tisram). He played the tisram portions samam to samam. He ended the taniavartanam with a kOrvai that lasted for 71 counts one time and 213 counts when played three times so as to end at 3 counts after samam when started from samam. Silence intervals were beautifully used within this kOrvai.

Trichur Ramachandran @ Music Connoisseurs Club, Chennai

Venue: Dakshinamurthy Auditorium, P.S. High School, R.K. Mutt Road, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 16 Jan 2007

Organizer: Music Connoisseurs Club

Vocal: Sri Trichur V. Ramachandran (TVR)

Violin: Sri M.A. Sundareswaran

Mridangam: Sri Umayalpuram Mali

List of songs:

1) pArvatI patim – hamsadwani – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (OS)

2) bAgAyanayya – chandrajyOti – Adi – thyAgarAja

3) srI ramaNa vibhO – Arabhi – Adi – swAti tiruNAL (AS)

4) sachAmara ramAvANi – hamsAnandi – tisra Eka – harikEsanallUr muthiAh bhAgavatar (AS)

5) manasu swAdInamai – shankarAbharaNam – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (ANST)

6) muralIdara gOpAlA – mAnD – Adi – periyasAmi thUran

7) dayavu seyya innum enna tAmadam swAmi – suruTTi – misra chApu – nIlakanTa sivan

8 ) ninnu pogaDa taramA – kuntalavarALi – Adi – g.n. bAlasubramaNiam

9) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Age certainly seems to have taken its toll on Sri TVR. He strains to listen to the shruti box and tanpura. He asks the violinst to play “sa” almost before every song as if to check up if he is hearing the correct base shruti to start off his next song/alapana. But once he starts singing, his voice just weaves magic. There is perfect shruti alignment and a clear diction. The raga alapanas have many good prayogas. The songs themselves have very good sangathis. The kalpana swarams, especially the slow speed ones, are thoroughly enjoyable.

The concert started more than 30 mins behind schedule thanks to a good dance recital by a group of children that just stretched a little beyond time and an eloquent wannabe politician who, being the chief guest for the evening, spoke well but for an extended period of time. Starting off with a quick fire “pArvatI patim” in hamsadwani, Sri TVR went on to give a good rendition of Sri Thyagaraja’s “bAgAyanayya“. I have always loved to hear Sri TVR sing Arabhi . When he started the Arabhi alapana yesterday, I just wished he sang Sri GNB’s “maravanunE ninnu” as the best version I have heard of this song is TVR’s. He chose Sri Swati Tirunal’s “srI ramaNa vibhO” instead. Interestingly, Sri M.A. Sundareswaran started his Arabhi alapana on the violin by almost playing the same song. He was able to predict TVR’s choice may be because of the fact that TVR sings “srI ramaNa vibhO” a lot these days. The hamsAnandi alapanas that followed this were very well executed by both Sri TVR and Sri M.A. Sundareswaran. The song of the day however was “manasu swAdInamai“. The shankarAbharaNam alapana was just perfect and the neraval and kalpana swarams were beautiful. Sri TVR wrapped up the concert with a kriti in one of my favorite ragas suruTTi (I am hearing this kriti for the first time) and Sri GNB’s “ninnu pogaDa tarama“.

B. Balasubramaniam @ Musiri Chamber Concerts, Chennai

Venue: Musiri Chamber Concerts, 28/2, Musiri Subramaniam Road, Mylapore

Date: 13 Jan 2007

Vocal: Sri B. Balasubramaniam

Violin: Sri R.K. Sriramkumar

Mridangam: Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao

List of songs:

1) sArasAlanu (varnam) – karnATaka kApi – tisra Eka – tAnjOre quartette

2) hastivadanAya – navarOj – misra chApu – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

3) avatAram enduku – harikAmbOji – kanDa chApu – thyAgarAja (AS)

4) saraswati manOhari – saraswati manOhari – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

5) saTrE vilagi – pUrvikalyANi – rUpakam – gOpAlakrishna bhArati (ANS)

6) vINA pustaka – vEgavAhini – misra jampa – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

7) ninnADa nEla – kannaDa – Adi – thyAgarAja

8 ) vidhi illArkku – kharaharapriyA – tisra Eka – Anai ayyA

9) gajavadanA – tODi – Adi – kumAra rAja eTTEndrA (AST)

10) venkaTashaila – hamIrkalyANi – Adi – subbarAya sAstri

11) valapudAsa (padam) – varALi – misra chApu – kshEtragna

12) OsOsi (padam) – mukhAri – misra chApu – muddu naTEsA

13) jAnarO I mOgamu (jAvaLi) – khamAs – tisra Eka – rAmanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr

14) maharAju (jAvaLi) – behAg – misra chApu – ??

15) kandugamada kariyai (viruttam) – rAgamAlikA (sindhubhairavi, chakravAham, hansAnandi, nATTakurinji, suruTTi & hindOLam)

dIm tAna nana nAdru (tillAnA) – hindOLam – kanDa Eka – mysOre vAsudEvAchAr

16) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Mylapore has many busy roads and one of them is Musiri Subramaniam road. As you travel on this road from Alwarpet signal towards Mylapore Fine Arts Club, you will see a small yellow signboard (put up by Mudhra?) that proudly says “28/2, Musiri Subramaniam Road” and beckons you into a silent bylane in the otherwise crowded and noisy Mylapore. A few steps in the lane and you are outside one of the best places to enjoy a carnatic music concert in Chennai!!!!

Sri Musiri Subramania Iyer’s family does this wonderful job of organizing chamber concerts here. There are many good things about a chamber concert as such. Apart from the apparent realities like ability to observe the artists at close quarters, better communication between the artists and the rasikas and better concentration on the music being presented with minimal distractions, the one good thing that must be very encouraging to artists themselves is the fact that even a small, nice sanchara is lapped up by the audience and evokes a lot of appreciation. When a lot of such good sancharas/prayogas are packed in a concert, its just a heavenly experience for the rasikas.

I have been witness to two good concerts at this venue in the last two weeks. Last week it was Smt. Suguna Purushothaman rendering her own compositions and this week it was Sri B. Balasubramaniam giving a vocal recital accompanied by accomplished artists Sri R.K. Sriramkumar and Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao on the violin and mridangam respectively.

What appealed to me the most in Sri Balasubramaniam’s concert was the rendition of the songs. Some sangathis used in the songs were just brilliant which speaks a lot about his gurus and his school (I incidentally learnt from a friend of mine that he belongs to the Brinda-Muktha school). The compositions chosen in the initial half of the concert were ones that aren’t heard much in the concert circuit these days. Sri Sriramkumar played along almost like Sri Balasubramaniam’s shadow and showed his individual brilliance during the raga alapanas. Sri Raja Rao played well for the songs, with a lot of sowkhyam.

Almost all the post-tODi compositions were rasika requests. Sri Balasubramaniam ended his concert with a melodious thillana in hindOLam in which he rendered the pallavi in normal speed, tisram and double speed.

Guru – Review

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Though Mani Ratnam denies that his latest movie “Guru” is based on the life of businessman Dhirubai Ambani, there are simply too many coincidences in the film that speak otherwise.

Guru is a rags-to-riches story of Guru Kant Desai (Abhishek Bachan) who, though advised by his father not to dream, dares to and goes on to create India’s largest public company. The movie starts off with Guru being offered a promotion and a pay hike for his excellent performance at work in Turkey. Instead of happily staying on, he choses to quit the job to return back to his village and start his own business. A significant part of the capital that he needs to start his business comes by way of his marriage to Sujatha (Aishwarya Rai). I do not intend this post to be a spoiler for those who want to see the movie and hence cut short posting the story of the movie here.

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The positives for me in the movie are Abhishek and Aishwarya’s portrayal of their characters, fine camera work (especially for a few of the song sequences) and some of the confrontation scenes (between Abhishek & Madhavan and between Abhishek, Madhavan & Mithun). Both Abhishek & Aishwarya I feel have done a fine job. Madhavan and the lovely Vidya Balan are also impressive whenever they appear on screen. What is however certainly not impressive is their supposed-to-be-passionate kissing scene that that takes place amidst a heavy downpour :-(

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Mithun da is in a strange role I have never seen him play before. He has carried it off well. Its very hard though to imagine him without his trademark “Aiyee saalaa” or his dance sequences. Here is a snap of his from the movie for you to stare in utter disbelief:

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I heard the songs of Guru for the first time today in the movie hall … now don’t blame me entirely for not hearing them even though the audio got released ages back …. I hardly get to watch TV these days and I don’t have the luxury of the songs being played all around me any more as I am in Chennai these days. After hearing them for the first time and being a die-hard A.R. Rahman fan, I must say that I am a tad disappointed. I would however have to listen to the songs a few times more before drawing any final conclusions as the full import of A.R. Rahman’s wizardry usually takes some time to get completely registered.

Coming back to the movie, I found the ending to be a bit unimpressive; not that I have a ready answer to how one could have made it better. The part near the end where Guru compares his struggle to that of Gandhiji’s freedom struggle was especially a bit too much for me.

To sum it all up, the movie is certainly worth a watch, especially for the performances by the cast.

Here are two quotes from the movie that kind of stayed in my mind:

  • “I don’t fear the public. I am the public”
  • “There is a saying in our village – if people say bad things about you, you must be doing something good”

The one that however takes the cake and makes Guru a Management Guru is the following one: “Think Big, Think Ahead and Think Fast”.

(Pictures and quotes courtesy http://www.msnspecials.in/guru/index1.asp )