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Articles on Carnatic Music

Requiem To a Musician Par Excellence From a Humble Rasika
by T.K. Srinivasan

(This is the fourth of our article entries. Here we will print several entries to our article contest for your benefit.)

It was that period, when Gulbarga was a Subedari of the Hyderabad State.Typical Deccani Spirit prevailed, with Purandaradasa's Kritis sung in Utharadi Style! Even after the lapse of a few years after 1956-- when Gulbarga merged with the New Mysore State (later christened Karnataka),the same was the situation,with Carnatic Music practically unknown!

Some die-hard votaries of Carnatic Music,who had come there on transfer or on business on the formation of Karnataka, urged me to start a Sabha for Carnatic Music. For an auspicious Inauguration & growth,we decided to request Sri Maharajapuram Santhanam to give the 'Inaugural Concert'.Being a family friend, Sri Santhanam agreed to alight at Gulbarga, on his way to Bombay, where he had a Series of Concerts.

Then I had to worry about other problems.The suitable 'auditorium' part was solved by fixing the 'kutcheri' in our Engg College Auditorium, as I was a Senior Faculty there! Next, to gather a suitable audience, befitting the artiste! By personal appeal & constant persuasion, I could arrange for filling up the first two rows with 'thappu thalam podatha' friends!

My wife briefed Sri Santhanam on the 'prevailing situation' when he came to our house for breakfast.The genius that he is, he instantly understood and assured us of all cooperation. Permit me to digress here to give light to the aspect of 'ready wit' which was always an enlivening part of his!

Out of liberty my wife chided Santhanam for not bringing 'mami' (his wife), as promised on the phone. He replied," Of Course I have brought her, have I not , Venkatrama" he said turning towards Vlathikudi Venkatraman, his Tamboora artiste, who had accompanied him. 'I can never go anywhere without her' he said further to our wonder!

After a pregnant pause, he said, "You know she is 'Gnanam', how can I go anywhere without her? Will people like you call me even?" That is a small instance of his 'ready wit'!

To my amazement, the 'concert' had attracted a huge audience, with the 'hall' brimming with dignitaries & friends! My heart was beating fast.

Santhanam commenced with "Gajavadhana Beduve" of Purandaradasa, drawing a big 'applause'! He continued to sing popular Kritis most appealing to all,who responded with appreciative claps after each song! "Tala Beku..Thakka Mela Beku"with the enthusiastic percussion support (Guruvayur Dorai) drew the maximum applause!

Glancing at me, he began Uthukadu's "Kuzhaludhi manamellam Kollaikondapinbum" & in neraval amended the line as "KuraiEdhum Umakillaye" looking at me & the audience! You can imagine the most enthusiastic 'uproar' it created! My eyes welled up with grateful tears.

That this "Suswagatham" laid a strong foundation & the Sabha made giant-strides in its growth, is another story! ********************************************** I have to record with great remorse this sequel. Years later we had settled in Chennai & my daughter's wedding was scheduled on the 25th June 1992. We were eagerly expecting Sri Santhanam to attend the Muhurtham/Reception on his return from the South.

We & the entire Music World were dealt the saddest blow of his demise in a road-accident on the 24th June!

Professor TK Srinivasan is a retired academician passionate about Music, with guidance and encouragement from his graduate musician wife Rajeswari. Both are mentally very active! Contact t srinivasan at gmail dot com

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updated on 08/15/2006