Happy Birthday Iyerval!

You are one of my all time favorites and, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest musicians ever in the history of Carnatic Music. Your life and music has taught me so much and I am sure will continue to teach and influence me a lot more in the years to come. You are the Sangita Pitamaha. Here is wishing you, Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, a very Happy 100th Birthday!!!!!

A Trip to Umayalpuram

It was a dream come true. I had been wanting to visit Umayalpuram, the place from where my guru and idol – mrudangam maestro Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman (UKS) hails, for quite some time now but never imagined that I will get an opportunity to go there along with UKS sir himself! The occasion was the annual Sita Kalyana Utsavam which brings to the village, families that used to once live there but have now migrated to other places. Some even come from as far as USA to participate.

Taking part in the festival was a great experience in itself. The unchavriti in the morning, the dips and lazing around in the river Kaveri in the evening, playing for the Divyanama bhajans in the night and most importantly eating the tastiest food that I have ever had in my life, all made it a special affair to be remembered for a long long time.

Here are some snaps:

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Unchavriti

Unchavriti

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Sita Kalyana Utsavam:

Bhagavathars in action:

The ladies get into the act:

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Divyanama bhajans in progress:

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Program schedule (Courtesy: Ravi Shankar):

My Chennai debut!

I think I was fortunate to play my first Chennai concert at one of my favorite venues in the city – Raga Sudha Hall, Mylapore. When I started hearing concerts in the hall a few years back, I was amazed to see Shri SVK (the owner of the sabha) take so much care to give the audience a good concert experience. For instance, he would walk around the hall periodically to check if the amplification was proper at all places and would also enquire with a few people in the audience about the sound levels. I would be left wondering as to how good it would be to play under such a person’s care. SVK mama is no more now but his daughter runs the sabha with a lot of dedication, the way he would have done had he been alive today. I must thank her from the bottom of my heart for reposing faith in me and giving me this opportunity.

Coming to the concert, I was playing on stage after a gap of almost 4 years. I was able to feel considerable improvement in some areas since the last time but was also at the same time able to identify many areas that I need to work upon to improve further . Veteran mrudangam vidwan Sri Vellore Ramabhadran walked in some minutes before the tani started. It felt good to get his blessings and a few words of appreciation after the concert.

I tried to collect as much feedback as possible from the people I could meet after the concert. In case you were present, please do send your feedback by email to ramsinbox@gmail.com . Please be very frank, especially while writing about areas you felt I could have done better in.

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Details of the concert:

Vocal: Vid Shruthi Subramaniam

Violin: Vid Srividya R.S. Iyer

Mrudangam: R. Ramkumar

List of songs:

1) inta calamu (varNam) – bEgaDa – Adi – vINa kuppaiyer

2) bhaja mAnasa – bahudAri – Adi – tuLasIvanam (OS)

3) kanulu tAkani – kalyANavasantam – tisra Ekam – tyAgarAja (ANS)

4) parama pAvana – ranjani – Adi – mIsu krishna iyer

5) shrI mAtA – begaDa – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkSitar (ANST)

6) nInE anAtha bandhu – shubapantuvarALi – Adi – purandaradAsa (O)

7) avasiriyali nInu – darbAri kAnaDA – kanDa cApu – kanakadAsa (O)

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

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Here are some snaps:

Ram's concert @ Naada Inbam, Raga Sudha Hall, Mylapore - 1

Ram's concert @ Naada Inbam, Raga Sudha Hall, Mylapore - 1

Ram's Concert @ Naada Inbam, Raga Sudha Hall, Chennai - 2

Ram's Concert @ Naada Inbam, Raga Sudha Hall, Chennai - 2

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na

Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is a delight to watch lit by superb performances by the cast. It is not often that one gets to see a movie with such brilliant supporting actors. The storyline is nothing new but the movie has been made in such a refreshing way that made me want to watch it despite it being so very predictable. Took me back to good old college days.

The only thing that left a bad taste in the mouth was the way A.R. Rahman’s songs have been handled. Arey yaar … bande ne kitna effort maara hoga … kuch toh izzat di hoti un fundu gaanon ko :-(