Malare Mounama ?

 


Malare Mounama ? 

It was a humid Friday afternoon on September 25th, when my maid tells me that she is not coming to work for the next few days.... now that is a crisis for me, so I jumped and asked her the reason. Pat comes the answer, ‘Amma don’t you know that SPB died? My husband & I are devastated and depressed.’ Now, this is the magic of SPB with which most of us have grown up with and this is the same magic we can never outgrow! 

This has become a personal loss for millions of people and the Indian film music world for he is truly irreplaceable!!

They call him a legend and how else can they describe a man who made his debut in playback singing in a 1966 Telugu film ‘Sri Sri Sri Maryada Ramana’, and last for 54 years in the most dynamic & competitive film music industry. 

Who would think that a boy from Konnetammapet, Nellore with a surname Sripathi Panditaradhyula, will also through his remarkably expressive singing make us love,laugh, cry and live with an entire range of emotions. Today he gave us emotion which he never given before, that of a feeling of helplessness and feeling of emptiness. I know scores of people who have used his songs as their emotional crutches. The man who made us rich with his music leaves this world poor by no small measure. 


It is very common to have really long surnames among Telugu people, so Sripathi Panditaradhyula Balasubrahmanyam became Balu to people close to him and the one & only S.P.B. to the world. 

I am not here to give the list of innumerable awards he received, the number of songs he sang, the number of languages in sang in etc,etc. That would be mere statistics and there are some who are above statistics & the number game. His undeniable talent & his success were there for everyone to see. He and Yesudas were the only singers popular beyond their home states and that is what we call beyond boundaries. He had an emotional appeal and probably that contributed to the now existing palpable grief among people . He was one of the most versatile singers Pan India. 

Now there could be many to counter this statement with names of wonderful singers such as Rafi, Kishore, TMS, PBS and more. I repeat, that he was easily one of the most versatile singers, and one who was never intimidated to sing in any unfamiliar language or a new genre. The proof is in the fact that, one of the most listened to classical based songs in AP and TN were not from Carnatic stalwarts,but from a single Telugu movie ‘Shankarabharanam’ and these were sung by a classically untrained singer SPB. To take the challenge of singing all Carnatic based songs and to deliver them fabulously is no small feat. I used to often wonder, when the central character of the film was a famous Carnatic Music exponent, then why would the music director K.V. Mahadevan choose to risk using a classically untrained singer like SPB, when he could have used any other acknowledged, recognised Carnatic vocalist. Like always, I answer my own questions (I know that sounds crazy)... I felt K.V. Mahadevan must have made this choice because when it comes to emoting and giving that extra feeling to a song, there is almost none who can come close to him. His trademark was that little laugh or call it chuckle which was so very real & lovable that certainly was in favour of Kamalahasan’s romantic roles. 

I think this was possible because of 2 things, one was he totally enjoyed every song he sang and another is he was quite a cute actor himself. He has played significant roles in several films and some in the lead role where he was sensible enough to choose what suited him rather than running around trees or fighting a dozen goons. Both onscreen and in real life, he handled himself with dignity and humility. I am convinced that SPB was a die-hard romantic himself (have the same feeling about Swati Tirunal). How else can one explain the ability SPB had to make romance, love, yearning all so tangible & bodied ? He must have been a sincere lover who was passionate about his singing...all this giving him the power to make already romantic people like me, dreamy & idealistic deluding myself that pure love is still out there waiting for me! 


Much of this has been attributed to the Illyaraja SPB combination. Much has been spoken about their partnership and their split. They were definitely a winning combination like Leander Paes & Mahesh Bhupathi or like Bollywood writers Salim-Javed or better example for Carnatic Music lovers is Ranjani- Gayatri. Sadly like the first two pairs, Illyaraja- SPB had differences, where SPB was more graceful. When Paes & Bhupathi broke up neither did well individually, same was the case after Salim Khan & Javed Akhtar broke up(of course RaGa are still together & will remain so) but in the Ilayaraja & SPB split, only one of them was affected, SPB was still wanted across South India by other music directors. Ilayaraja no doubt used SPB & S.Janaki extensively, both these Telugu speaking singers were complementing each other.

It’s unthinkable that the succulent voice which sang for Vidyasagar”s music direction ‘Malare Mounama’ from the Arjun Sarja’s film Karna has fallen silent. Many film songs have been based on Kaanada Ragam and one of my favourites is this one, incidentally a non Illyaraja song.

SPB was matchless with his little laughter, a stifled sob, those inflections were his USP. 

It is common knowledge that MGR wanted to replace TMS, since MGR was a megalomaniac who is reputed to be unforgiving to anyone who doesn’t suck up to him. But,TMS was too valuable because it was his voice & the curated lyrics which played a catalyst in MGR’s political career. So, the search for a good replacement was not easy. It was then that MGR who was sitting outside a recording studio in the garden, to beat the heat inside(there were no air conditioners those days) hears SPB singing a Telugu song and seeks him out. But, on the day of the recording SPB was unwell and couldn’t sing, so he thought he had lost a chance not having turned up at the recording, that too for an MGR song. But, MGR waited till SPB got better & recorded the song ... probably MGR could identify talent & skill, like he did in the case of mentoring Jayalalitha to be his heir. 

That was how SPB sang ‘Ayiram Nilave Vaa’ under the music direction of K.V. Mahadevan for MGR’s film ‘Adimai Penn’ .... and rest is history ! After this song, there was no looking back for him and he was the busiest singer in the whole Indian film industry, for the many decades to come.TMS ‘s loss was SPB’s gain. SPB had arrived ! 


How many know that, he had recorded the most songs on a single day by any singer? A whopping 21 songs in Kannada for the composer Upendra Kumar in Bangalore from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm on 8 February 1981. Can anyone beat that ? 

And in all this, what stands out is that every single person who has met him is amazed by his humility & simplicity ...this is something no one has contradicted. If he was pretending to humble & simple it would be difficult to be consistent and sometime, somewhere his arrogance would have been exposed but that never ever happened. We have lost a wonderful singer with some exemplary qualities which many other artistes in every field can emulate. 

People loved working with him not just because of his immeasurable talent and success rate but also his goodness. 

It happened when K. Balachander wanted to remake his Telugu hit film ‘Marocharitra’ in Hindi as ‘Ek Dujje Ke Liye’ he realised that he has to make a few changes in order to reach out to the Hindi audience and therefore cannot dub the film in Hindi, which would have been a cheaper option and it is a well known fact that K.B. always worked on a shoe string budget. During the remake there were two things K.B was adamant about not changing and that was the hero Kamalahasan & the male singer SPB. He had to fight to have his way, with the music directors Lakshmikant Pyarelal who were not excited about using a non Hindi speaking SPB. KB was clear that both Kamal & SPB were irreplaceable. And boy, did it pay off... SPB went on to win the National Award for the song ‘Tere Mere Beech Mein’. It is important to note that the same song is sung by Lata Mangeshkar in the same film both being solo versions. If it is the music direction which was the winner or Raag Shivaranjini then Lata could have won the award. But it was SPB who had everyone crying with the pathos in his voice. After this movie, the Kamalahasan’s acting coupled SPB singing almost convinced me,that true love means jumping of the cliff together. And the film ‘Punnangai Mannan’ completely convinced me !! 

I even found the cliff to jump from and am still waiting for somebody to join me on the top of the cliff ! 

I am a loyal fan of Lata but I have to admit that SPB made Lata’s singing appear mediocre and made Lakshmikant Pyarelal eat humble pie for doubting his talent. I still maintain one has to be a romantic to act like Kamal and romantic to both sing that song like SPB and to enjoy it too ! And Lata’s life was devoid of romance except for some stray rumours. 

His debut in Hindi which got him a National award had him singing for Salman Khan. My candid assessment is that, this helped Salman’s films to be successful because by himself Salman was no Kamalahasan to carry the films with his wooden acting. I was amused to see channels saying that SPB was better known as Salman Khan’s voice... I am sure SPB himself would have been amused, the confident humorous man that he was ! My opinion is that it is Salman who owes his early success to SPB‘s singing for ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, ‘ Saajan’ and ofcourse ’Hum Aapke Hai Kaun’, in which Madhuri Dixit contributed along with SPB to give Salman another hit. 

SPB was not better known as Salman’s voice, he could be anyone’s voice.... it can be Vijayakanth, Ramarajan or even Mohan. Remember Mohan of ‘Payanangal Mudivathilai’? Would anyone watch Mohan’s films for his acting, if it was not for SPB giving him some of the best songs? It was not only a genius like Illyaraja who made super hit songs with SPB, but even music directors like the plagiarist Bappi Lahiri who benefitted that extra thing that was the magic of SPB, who could transform any song because he just loved to sing and being a linguist helped immensely. Rest of the singers were only cloning him, yet didn’t try to imitate his humility. 

His acting in Guna, Avvai Shanmughi, Keladi Kanmani, Minsara Kanavu,Priyamanavale, Kadhalan & some other Telugu films were definitely as effortless as his singing. 

In a field, where almost everyone has had clandestine or brazen relationships, and almost everyone is accusing everyone in the #Metoo campaign, to remain spotless and dignified is so respectable. I am glad, I lived in an era of his music and also had the taste to enjoy them. 

He has often mentioned that Rafi was his idol, his inspiration and like him, he understood the mood of the song, relished the lyrics, studied the actor in the scene, the context, the entire package and there was no song which was too difficult for him yet he didn’t take any song lightly and do a half hearted job. 

Many are paying lengthy tributes while many others are speechless. I could keep writing so much more because this is not about an ordinary man but a ‘Gentle Giant’, whose life and million anecdotes to go with it, can never be uninteresting. If a person has rendered more than 40,000 songs, and all of them are brilliant and each one has a story to go with it, then imagine how much more can be written. Probably, I should write as a serial and give it the detailing that it deserves. 

I am guilty of quoting my grandmother, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. She used to tell us stories from Ramayana and when she fell short of words to describe Rama, she used to say that there is no simile, no metaphor, no synonym, no example to describe Rama ... one doesn’t say Rama was like this or that or like someone, because there was no one like him before him or after him. We can only say someone is ‘almost’ like Rama,even that is difficult. He is his own example ! 

I say that there was nobody like SPB before him, and there will be none ever after !! 

About the Author:
Sandhya Shankar belongs to a well respected business family in Chennai. She is a Life Skills & Corporate Trainer by profession. She is an avid reader and a natural writer, who has written several poems and articles. She even presented her poems as a reading at the British council. She has keen interest in all art forms  and has explored many different forms of painting like stained glass and Tanjore being among them. 

Music being her first passion, she had her formal training under Terakotti Chandrasekharaiah at Bangalore and later briefly under Mrs Champa Kumar. She is a regular visitor of concerts, theatre and other live performances. Her witty reviews have gained a loyal and interactive readership for their sound technical commentary and relevance for every kind of melophile, from the casual-goer to the ragam expert, frequenting Chennai’s rich music scene.

(*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Music of Madras.)

Gana ashramamalika



The terms ‘BC’ has taken a different meaning from our school days.. it’s not just ‘Before Christ’ but it is ‘Before Corona’. It is a thing of the distant past that .. when you had to look at the clock on the wall to hint that your guest should leave. Today, you just need to terminate the Zoom video call with a click, and then blame it on the internet. How many of us like the fact that the world can gaze upon you only in the way, you frame it in the corners of your video camera ? 


Well, Corona has certainly done different things to different people. I always thought, we would do things on our list if only we found time. Initially, many would have thought, that they will benefit from this forced lockdown and they will be able to focus on their personal life. But I am confident that, there are men out there with really long hair not having dared to go out for a haircut fearing this Corona. In the beginning, there were sincere promises of sharing domestic chores but over time only I was left as the sole warrior handling everything. Anyway, I knew who had mopped the living room as they danced to Sunidhi Chauhan’s singing ‘ Mind blowing Mahia’, who vacuumed the tiniest corner in their bedroom, who had baked brownies, who had washed the dishes just as cheerful as Katrina Kaif did hers, because the Facebook & Instagram was flooded with million such posts. While I am usually active on FB, this lockdown there has been hardly any posts from me ...the reason being, I was REALLY washing, mopping, cooking and didn’t find time to post or even photograph these activities and I didn’t care if anyone was judging ! 

The reality in many homes was that there was always somebody, looking absolutely unwashed, lounging on the sofa opposite the television with a packet of potato chips perched precariously on their stomach, with crumbs all around, some Coke bottles rolling on the floor..... all this and more as they were making some life defining choices as to what to choose from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, Sony liv and mind boggling options to choose from while Tatasky became the new Doordarshan. Remember Doordarshan? 


If people thought work from home is easy, their managers had different thoughts... they felt that the time you used to spend in commuting can be now better used to schedule meetings and start work early. Probably they installed some software on your laptop to check keyboard presses, now that they can’t casually peek over your shoulder. 

In the beginning, I thought I would read all the books which I had impulsively bought (with the genuine intent of reading) and are lying covered with dust on my bookshelf, take a course in a foreign language, clean my overflowing cupboards, and revamp my kitchen, practise my music, study philosophy, learn the formidable Veda chanting, renew my forgotten painting, search for countless things I have been missing for decades, exercise & take care of my body & health (these are only a few things in the list) but ended up doing very little of everything !!! 

Two things which somehow I managed to keep at were studying scriptures such as Adi Shankara’s Tattva Bodha and music .. I must say, that I am grateful music never left me. I feel that music & spirituality align with each other. Both are endless, meditative and nothing else can give you that joy like these do. 

I want to state firmly that when I say spirituality, it is not to be confused with religion. People like the most eloquent T.M. Krishna can rest assured, that I am convinced that Sufi music is also a path to the divine as much as the other genres of music ... the paths are different but the destination is the same. 

My choice was to first try & understand atleast a few of the scriptures which included work by the Buddhist Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I also tried understanding Hindu scriptures, simply because I want to respect and understand my religion, just like loving my family, my lineage, before I respect and love others. This is learning from my Buddhism exploration.

While at this, I had some humorous thoughts about the similarities in music and the 4 ashramas or stages of life, mentioned in Hinduism .... 


First is Brahmacharya ... it is like Western Pop music, fast, chaotic, head banging, no need for any tune, no one should understand your words or you, very, very high level of energy. Basically, you shouldn’t follow any rules, better if you can break them, best of you can make your own rules, if you can do that repeatedly, then you are a trend setter and noticeably you will have a gang. And you are going nowhere yet everyone is following you ! My generation will remember wearing bell bottoms, boys growing side locks, swooning over John Travolta’s gyrations in ‘Saturday Night Fever’, listening to ABBA & Boney M and protesting against anything remotely sensible !


Next stage is Grihasta, which is like our own Carnatic Music. It will sound right only when it is measured and balanced with pakkavadhyams of career, family, money etc. They should all be in sync but even if one of them goes off key, the whole performance will suffer. It is serious, often tedious, very challenging and there is constant competition. It is a stage which follows the Darwin’s theory ‘survival of the fittest’ ! You can also get away with some thukkada aspects, but you will be identified & evaluated by only your main piece, which is a big responsibility. You need to constantly upgrade and innovate yourself. You need to deliver and strike a balance while catering to all concerned. Haven’t we all been there.....trying to please everyone, being careful about the future of all who matter, trying to multitask .... all along not deviating from the rules laid down by the predecessors and generally living life on roller skates ! 


Then comes Vanaprasta, which is like Hindustani Classical Music, this when life slows down and it is time to withdraw, you start singing on one note for a long time, with everyone waiting for you to go to the next note, and as you move to the next note, your co-vanaprast starts the earlier note. There is a lot of elongated drawls sometimes finding the interest level of the audience withering, occasionally even is lost. The more experienced you are the slower is your performance leaving the impatient younger audience looking forward to you moving on and giving space to the next performer ! 


The last stage is Sanyasa which is like Western classical Music, you know the time has come or is it that your time has gone? You don’t know when the music started, you don’t know how many instruments are suddenly pouncing on you, and just as you are warming up, there is sudden silence. You don’t understand what the hell is going on and you are not even in control, someone else is controlling the baton. Just as the divine conductor is controlling everything for us. Unless they tell you, you don’t even know when it started or when it has ended. This is the time to renounce everything and move on ! 


Anyway, as communities are slowly opening up, the invisible enemy is still persistent and is lurking around every corner, making everyone increasingly terrified of the new normal, where every cough will be shots fired. It is only an ocean of masked faces, where the only visible thing is a pair of apprehensive eyes looking at a world more frightening, more hostile and more divided than ‘BC’. And just as I am wiping doorknobs with sanitizer, I realise that earlier I was slowly losing faith in humanity but now I am losing faith in surfaces !!

About the Author:

Sandhya Shankar belongs to a well respected business family in Chennai. She is a Life Skills & Corporate Trainer by profession. She is an avid reader and a natural writer, who has written several poems and articles. She even presented her poems as a reading at the British council. She has keen interest in all art forms  and has explored many different forms of painting like stained glass and Tanjore being among them. 

Music being her first passion, she had her formal training under Terakotti Chandrasekharaiah at Bangalore and later briefly under Mrs Champa Kumar. She is a regular visitor of concerts, theatre and other live performances. Her witty reviews have gained a loyal and interactive readership for their sound technical commentary and relevance for every kind of melophile, from the casual-goer to the ragam expert, frequenting Chennai’s rich music scene.

(*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Music of Madras.)

Will Carnatic become Coronatic?

 



Among the many changes that we are experiencing, most of which is extremely frustrating, this December Music Season( if it happens) may also see plenty of changes, beginning with the sabha canteens(shorter queues, hiked pricing on already highly priced menu, attempting to make up for lost business during lockdown, different seating arrangements(only 50% audience capacity, more soberly dressed women or maybe exquisite ‘pattu’ masks with embroidery matching their shiny sarees which have been lying idle in the cupboards for months. One welcome change, would be sabhas opting for online ticketing, enabling minimal contact, not having to go and wait at the venue at 3am, like you do or rather used to do, for Tirupati darshan only to get a token. And portals such as Music of Madras can facilitate a smoother or should I say healthier procurement of tickets. 
In a lighter vein, lot of people are going to be disappointed that they can’t notice who else has come and even worse not be recognised with everyone going around with mandatory masks covering half the face ! Just wondering, how they will feel because till last year, we used to meet ......

1)The ‘Yaaro Ivar Yaaro ?’ type

They will sit in the first row for ALL shows and constantly stand up and keep looking back to make sure everyone knows she/he is here. Often, they have no significant role at home or elsewhere and this is what they look forward to during the whole year. 

2)The ‘Note’ swaram type:

As soon as the singer even clears his or her throat, they will start writing a 500 word precis writing on the ragam, talam, janyam of the gargling ! 

3)The deep research type : 

The moment they hear the first alphabet, they will quickly Google up the assumed song so that they can message on WhatsApp to everyone else how smart they are in identifying carnatic complexities and later sheepishly realising most Telugu songs begin with enta ,nannu, ninnu and that family set of wordslu

4)The ‘By’Gonamruthkeerthamalika type : 

Same as point 3, except they will use a handy 1920 pocketbook to try and identify the curriculum vitae of the krithi, and will spend the entire song time searching, even after the next song has started.

5)The Thani avarthanam type: 

This lady is dangerous, she will keep talking throughout the song, about where she heard it first, who is the best, why Seshu Mama is a ‘Mushudu’ for preventing her from learning thereby she not becoming a ‘Madras Jayashree ‘ and why Neela Mami’s marriage failed. 

6)The (Vi)Desh Ragam type : 

This gent will place himself next to a foreigner Mama/Mami, and take it upon himself to do ghar wapsi of his guest by irritatingly adding subtitles for the songs,including the alapanais just to find out that Mr/Ms foreign is a student of Sanjay Subramanyam for 10 years. 

7)The endha ROW mahanubhavu type: 

This enthusiastic distractor will double up as a traffic constable and Zubin Mehta with one hand conducting people towards him and the other hand chasing away people saying no space,and also shouting at the highest possible staayi when spotting a fellow constable.

8)The pakka or is it mokka Vadhiyam type:

The most dangerous...

The type who will distract everyone around in the kutcheri with arbid co-singing and morbid wrong talam putting and doing one ich ich ich sound to indicate to everyone around that he knows this song from S.G. Kitappa days. 

Now on a more serious note, December Music Season would be only half as interesting without all this. It’s not only about the vocalist, violinist, mridangam artiste and choice of songs. If only that mattered, why aren’t these avalanche of online kutcheris, you tube videos not as enjoyable as going for a live performance ?

About the Author:

Sandhya Shankar belongs to a well respected business family in Chennai. She is a Life Skills & Corporate Trainer by profession. She is an avid reader and a natural writer, who has written several poems and articles. She even presented her poems as a reading at the British council. She has keen interest in all art forms  and has explored many different forms of painting like stained glass and Tanjore being among them. 

Music being her first passion, she had her formal training under Terakotti Chandrasekharaiah at Bangalore and later briefly under Mrs Champa Kumar. She is a regular visitor of concerts, theatre and other live performances. Her witty reviews have gained a loyal and interactive readership for their sound technical commentary and relevance for every kind of melophile, from the casual-goer to the ragam expert, frequenting Chennai’s rich music scene.

(*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Music of Madras.)

Nen Je Nandini - NJ Nandini



Nen Je Nandini


Gone are the days, when we were able to identify the singer, lyricist, music director when we heard a song. I would easily recognise if the voice was Lata Mangeshkar or Asha Bhonsle, Mukesh or Kishore Kumar, Mann Dey or Mohammed Rafi. Same was the case, when we could recognise Ilayaraja’s music or M.S.Vishwanathan and likewise being able to distinguish between Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar from Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna from Maharajapuram Santhanam or M.S.Subbalakshmi from everyone else ! 
What I am trying to imply is that everyone sounds similar especially in the field of playback singing for films. Probably it’s because there is too much happening with very hardworking, focussed young artistes, who are MORE hardworking and MORE focussed and have MORE ambitious parents and most important definitely MORE opportunities ! 
There are so many immensely talented artistes that it is difficult to distinguish one from the other and maybe it’s even unfair to rank them.

Being in the pursuit of good music myself, I have found only two voices among female Carnatic musicians, which stand apart and are recognisable for their individuality and those in my opinion are the voices of Bombay Jayashri and Gayathri Girish. I am referring only to their distinguishable voice and not pitting them against anyone’s singing prowess. Jayashri has got a semi husky and unique voice quality & Gayathri has a mature & original voice which gives a vintage effect ! 

Now before anyone gets confused as to who this post is about .... Jayashri or Gayathri .... it’s about N.J. Nandini from Trivandrum. An artiste I was listening to for the first time on Facebook during the Mani Krishnaswami Academy ongoing series. 
Normally I listen, while I am trying to do a jugglery act between cooking, pooja and some unlisted classified odd jobs... with my phone in the background. It is not to be concluded that I am casual or indifferent about music or the musician of the day ! It’s just that the timing is not so ideal for a karma yogi like me ! 
This is the normal scenario but one day I heard this voice which made me abandon my unrecognised multitasking and I was propelled to watch the kutchery with rapt attention. Towards the end, I was left with one question ..... where was this girl hidden all these years or how come I have never heard her before ?
A ‘stand alone’ beautiful voice, flawless diction, competent & confident singing ..... well she practically had me captive for the entire concert. Watching this young woman with ‘Sharmila Tagore’ dimples, I became curious and gathered more information about her. 
There was so much that it was mind boggling and she has got nothing less than 30 awards, such as : M.S.Subbalakshmi Fellowship, Chembai Puraskaram and Madurai Mani Iyer award.
Okay... guess that is enough of gushing about her and let me share the songs she sang on that day. 

She started the concert with Puliyur Doraiswamy Iyer’s composition in Ragam Nattai ‘Saraseeruhasanapriye’ set to Adi thalam. 
Puliyoor Duraiswami Iyer was a renowned musician who lived in Vaiyacheri, a small village in Tanjore district. Once while he was singing Thyagaraja Swamy’s ‘Chakkani Raja’ in Ragam Kharaharapriya, it so happened that Sri Thyagaraja was passing by and was so happy to listen to the wonderful rendering that he blessed Duraiswami by saying that his two sons would become very famous in music. Duraiwami had four sons and true to Thyagaraja Swamy’s words, Duraiswami found that Ramaswami and Vaidyanathan (who was later known as Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer, because he composed a Ragamalika with all the 72 Melakarta Ragams) evinced keen interest in music and trained them in singing. Among his well-known compositions are ‘ Saraseeruhanasanapriye’ and the Dasaragamalika Varnam ‘Intha Gopa’.

Her next song was Mysore Vasudevachar‘s ‘Sri Chamundesweri’ in Ragam Bilahari, set to Adi thalam. It was very pleasant to see Nandini choosing a not so often sung krithi of one other great musician. 
Mysore Vasudevachar( 28 May 1865 – 17 May 1961) belonged to the direct line of Thyagaraja Swamy’s disciples. I am sure Vasudevachar considered himself very lucky to receive direct ‘Deeksha’ from Thyagaraja Swamy school of learning,....not sure Kamalahasan will agree with him ! 
Among his 200 + compositions, the most popular kritis include BrochevaravaruRa in Ragam Khamas, Mamavatu Sri Saraswati in Ragam Hindolam and Bhaja Re Manasa in Ragam Abheri and was a recipient of the civilian honour of the Padma Bhushan. On the insistence of Rukmini Arundale, he became the chief musician in Kalakshetra and helped in setting the Ramayana to music. I give these details because generally people don’t know much about many wonderful composers barring the Trinity ! 

After this, another not so often heard composition by Dharmapuri Subbaraya Iyer ‘Smara Sundaranguni’ in Ragam Paras, set to Adi thalam. This is a Javali usually used for Bharatanatyam performances. 
Dharmapuri Subbaraaya Iyer was a 19th century composer and as the name suggests, he was from Dharmapuri and is the most notable composer of the Jaavali form, of which he is the universally acclaimed master. Most of his music dealt with sringaara rasa, or romantic and erotic love, and all were of the jaavali form. Many of his compositions were composed in the home of Veena Dhanammal, whose music he admired, and who learnt around 60 javalis from him. It is said, that he may have composed the poignant javali ‘Sakhiprana' at her home, grief-stricken at his inability to save her from bankruptcy. ‘SmaraSundaranguni’ was also written out of his feelings for her. It is said that he kept a notebook at his bedside near the pillow to write down the javalis that came to mind, but his wife is said to have fervently prayed to the diety at Tiruchengodu that her children should not take after their father ! 

Nandini went on to sing Dikshitar‘s ‘Ranganayakam’ in Ragam Nayaki set to Adi thalam, in a flawless manner. Her years of learning music from highly respected & knowledgable teachers such as Prof. Parassala Ponnammal, Prof.Kumarakerala Varma, Dr.S. Bhagyalakshmi and Dr. M.N.Moorthy has given her invaluable insights into the nuances of music. The purity of her music should be largely attributed to her teachers, once again ascertaining the importance of getting the right Guru !! 

Her next song was what I refer to as ‘our’ family song...the kind of song, which everyone in our family knows and incase we are separated or get lost, this can be the song which will unite all of us, like in the film ‘ Yaadon ki Baraat’. It is Thyagaraja Swamy’s ‘Marugelara O Raghava’ in Ragam Jayanthasri set to Adi thalam. Nandini had a good blend of familiar & not so familiar songs lined up.

Her main piece for the concert was again a Thyagaraja krithi in Ragam Poorvikalyani ‘Gnana Mosagarada’ set to Rupaka thalam. I enjoyed it very much and it was evident that she also enjoyed singing it and that makes a lot of difference.

One cannot be from Trivandrum and not sing a Swathi Tirunal composition... actually today wherever the artiste is from, they include a Swathi Tirunal, such is the outreach of his compositions....transcending any sort of barriers. It was ‘Kanakamayam’ in Ragam Huesini set to Rupakam thalam.

Swati Tirunal, the 19th-century king of Travancore, was a prolific Carnatic and Hindustani composer whose compositions I personally admire. One of his most interesting works is the Utsavaprabandha, which is made up of twelve compositions: an introduction, ten main songs and a conclusion, each one describing a specific day of the Padmanabha Swamy Temple festivals. They are set in a variety of ragas, some popular and some rare, and their lyrics are in highly Sanskritized Malayalam.
This delightful song ‘Kanakamayam Ayidum’ was composed for the third day of the festival, when Lord Padmanabha’s idol is taken out on a procession atop the kamala vahana (lotus vehicle). It describes a conversation between two young boys who are watching the procession go by, but aren’t sure who the deity is. It’s kind of funny that Hindu kids are often teased about the seemingly endless number of Hindu deities, but as this song reveals, plenty of Hindus also find them hard to keep track of !

It is like a conversation between the lads as to ....Who could this be, approaching in such grandeur in the resplendent kamala vahanam ? If it is Indra, king of the gods, who killed the demon,then where are the thousand sparkling eyes all over his body?
The boys ask each other ...Could it be Chandra, the Moon, who moves so gracefully roaming with compassion ? But if it is indeed the Moon, where is his trademark dark spot, since this person is absolutely flawless. 
Literally, kalabha-gati means ‘one with an elephant-like gait’, kalabha meaning a young elephant, gati meaning gait. It’s a common epithet found in Sanskrit poetry, and it’s meant to be a compliment ! It sounds odd to us today, but I guess yesteryear poets thought elephants moved around very elegantly and elephants were a symbol of majestic grandeur. 
If it is Shiva, the beloved of Gauri and Lord of Kailasa, then where is his third eye ?
What an elaborate & unique way to describe the beauty of Lord Padmanabha and the procession he takes on the lotus vehicle !
Listening to the song, only made me want to witness all this sometime in my life! 
Nandini ended the concert with a Thillana in Ragam Behag by the inimitable Lalgudi Jayaraman. Much after she finished, I was left wanting more of her wholesome music along with the Sharmila Tagore dimples..........


About the Author:

Sandhya Shankar belongs to a well respected business family in Chennai. She is a Life Skills & Corporate Trainer by profession. She is an avid reader and a natural writer, who has written several poems and articles. She even presented her poems as a reading at the British council. She has keen interest in all art forms  and has explored many different forms of painting like stained glass and Tanjore being among them. 

Music being her first passion, she had her formal training under Terakotti Chandrasekharaiah at Bangalore and later briefly under Mrs Champa Kumar. She is a regular visitor of concerts, theatre and other live performances. Her witty reviews have gained a loyal and interactive readership for their sound technical commentary and relevance for every kind of melophile, from the casual-goer to the ragam expert, frequenting Chennai’s rich music scene.

(*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Music of Madras.) 

Garga Sudha Rasa - Sunil R.Gargyan


Garga Sudha Rasa



The nice thing about watching concerts online is that I have managed to listen to a few artistes whose name I have been hearing but have been unable to go for their kutcheris. 
One such person is a youngster Sunil Gargyan, who has learnt music from Nagai S. Bashyam and P. B. Shrirangachari initially and later from none other than P.S. Narayanaswamy.
I listened to him recently during the online kutchery series by Mani Krishnaswamy Academy and what I saw a young lad with a sweet disposition & a sweeter voice ! 

He started the concert with a shlokam which was a thaniyan about 46th Jeeyar of Ahobila Mutt. Thaniyan is an invocatory verse of glorification to an Acharya which is usually composed or submitted by a sishya. Having made an auspicious beginning he commenced the concert with a Thyagaraja krithi in Ragam Mayamalavagowla ‘Tulsi Dalamulache’ set to Rupaka Thalam. I had first heard this sung by the legendary M. S. Subbulakshmi. 
Both Thyagaraja Swamy & M.S. Subbulakshmi were and continue to be legends of ALL time .....atleast the world thinks so. Ofcourse some individuals like Kamalahasan & T.M. Krishna may have other views. 
In this song Thyagaraja Swamy says : I shall ever be worshiping with joy the Transcendental Lord, the personification of righteousness, the prince of Ayodhya, with tender tulasi, which are sacred basil leaves. I shall garland Him with fragrant flowers like the lotus, punnaga, champaka, jasmine & lily. The Lord also is happy with just a leaf offered with complete devotion. Even in the Bhagavadgita Gita this is expressed by the Lord himself. Such a song has to be sung with devotion and Sunil lent his best to give that effect. 
The next was a Kanakadasa composition in Ragam Begada set to Rupakam thalam ‘Lokabharithano’. Now, if Purandasa’s compositions are rarely sung in concerts then Kanakadas’s compositions are hardly sung, so it was pleasant to see Sunil sing this. 

Kanakadasa (1509-1609) whose original name was Thimmappa Nayaka was a Haridasa, a renowned composer and philosopher. He is known more for his Ugabhoga along with his keerthanas where he used simple Kannada language and native metrical forms for his compositions.
There are many stories associated with Kanakadasa but the most famous one was a happening at Udupi. Following the instructions of his Guru Vyasaraya Swamiji he had come to Udupi. But it was an era when discrimination on the basis of caste was at its peak and the Brahmin priests would not let him enter the temple as he was from a lower caste, inspite of Vyaasaraaya Swamiji asked them to let Kanakadaasa into the temple. Though upset, Kanakadaasa sat outside the backside of the temple meditating & singing songs in praise of Lord Krishna. Those who have visited Udupi would notice that the deity faces the west. It is believed that when Kanakadasa was outside the temple for days waiting to be allowed to go into the temple and see God, a spectacular incident took place. They say, he was pining & singing kirthanas when miraculously the deity turned around to face the west side wall which was the backside of the temple where Kanakadasa was and the outer wall cracked and he was able to see his Lord. This left the orthodox community flabbergasted and realising that the Lord will reach out to only pure devotion and ever since, Sri Krishna's deity has been facing west, though the main entrance is east-facing. Today that window (commonly called ’ Kanakana Kidiki’ ) stands as a tribute to Kanakadaasa. Devotees who visit the temple, try to have a darshan of Lord Krishna through this small window seeking to re-live the ecstasy where Kanakadaasa had when having the divine ‘darshan’. It is also testimony to the eclectic Hindu belief that devotion, poetry, and sainthood are above caste and creed.
Sadly this kind of stupid & rigid mindset hasn’t changed in so many centuries...... we still have the Guruvayur Devasom not allowing Yesudas inside the temple. Isn’t Udupi Krishna and Guruvayurappan one and the same ? Haven’t they heard of this story of Kanakadasa ? 
There was a request from the listeners’ end which was rendered most confidently by Sunil. The request was Thyagaraja Swamy’s composition in Ragam Shubhapantuvarali ‘Ennalu Oorake’, set to Misra Chapu thalam. Here Thyagaraja taunts his Lord Rama, asking him ‘How long are you going remain unconcerned about your Thyagaraja?‘ 
The beauty of this kind of Bhakti or devotion is not slavery but a variety of relationships rolled together. 
This song was also Sunil’s main piece where his hard work and the advantage of acquiring good teachers was displayed. 
Then came one of my favourite songs ‘Saagavaram Arulvai’ in Ragam Varamu composed by Subramanya Bharati. 
This particular song is a tribute to Lord Rama. Bharatiyar asked the lord for immortality in physical form. But he got it in spirit that lasts forever for generations to come.

What followed was a Telugu composition ‘Dhannyudevaddo Dasharathe’ by Patnam Subramanya Iyer in Ragam Malayamarutham set to Adi thalam. 
Patnam Subramanya Iyer (1845 - 31st July 1902) left behind almost 100 compositions.
Subramaniya Iyer was born in Thiruvaiyaru in Thanjavur district but moved to Chennapatnam, today’s Chennai. This gave Subramaniya Iyer the prefix to his name. Many of his students such as Mysore Vasudevachar, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar, Bhairavi Kempegowda and Tiger Varadachari became famous composers and vocalists.
Two of his famous compositions are ‘Raghuvamsha Sudha’ in Ragam Kadana Kuthuhalam and Evari Bodhanna in Ragam Abhogi. It is said the Ragam Kadana Kuthuhalam which has western notes, is invented by Patnam Subramanya Iyer.

Sunil’s next song was Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Mathrubootham’ in the Ragam Kannada set to Misra Chapu thalam. This again was rendered very sincerely by Sunil. This song was about the Thayumanavar temple in Trichy and most people are aware of the story that goes with this temple....How Lord Shiva himself came in the form of a pregnant girl’s mother and helped during the delivery since the mother could not arrive on time ! 

Another not so often heard Dikshitar composition was ‘MayeTvam’ in Ragam Tarangini set to Adi thalam. This is a rare Sanskrit krithi by the genius composer, was a special song in D.K. Pattammal’s repertoire deserves mention for rich ‘Sahityam’ which is rich in both poetic beauty & philosophical content. The song is addressed to Goddess Maya or the illusionary force, which causes human suffering, which keeps us bound to the material world and emotional entanglements, as result proving to be a hurdle in our spiritual enlightenment ! Dikshitar asks ‘Maya’ to go away and not trouble him further. Each of the 3 Charanams are unique in their own way.... the 1st Charanam for every word rhymes with one and another, the 2nd Charanam for its musical arrangements of the syllables using ‘goppucha yati’(meaning like a cow’s tail ... broad to start with then gradually tapering). The 3rd Charanam has the Rāga Mudra and the Vaggeyakara Mudra and also reaches the highest note at ‘guruguhodaye’, making it a remarkable composition if well delivered.... which Sunil did ! 

He went on to sing an Ugabhoga set in ragamalika as a Viruttam, in the Ragams Shanmukhapriya, Kaapi, and Hamir Kalyani this was very wonderful and continuing with a Vijayadasa’s composition in Hamir Kalyani ‘Guru Purandaradasare’ set to Misrachapu thalam. 
It was pleasant that Sunil chose Vijayadasa’s krithi because singers often don’t choose beyond the compositions of the Trinity.

Sri Vijaya Dasaru (1682 AD – 1755AD) holds a very revered status among the Madhwas. Sri Purandara Dasaru had composed 4,75,000 Devaranamas and he had ordained his youngest son to be reborn as Vijaya Dasa and compose the balance 25000 Devaranamas, to complete 5,00,000 dasa padhagalu. These numbers are astounding leaving one wondering if the likes of Purandara did anything besides composing & singing ! 
All his devarunamas and other compositions carried the signature ‘Vijaya Vittala’. 
Having sung almost all composers barring Shyama Sastri, he next choice was a Swathi Tirunal’s composition in Ragam Neelambari 
‘Kanthanodu Chennu’ set to Rupaka thalam. 
This song is a Padam in Malayalam, which expresses the sorrow that pervades the heart of a young damsel, who is in love with Lord Krishna. She thought her beloved would come and stay with her. Not having that pleasure she sends a young friend of hers as a messenger to go and convey her misery to her beloved.  She wants her friend to convey the message ‘gently and sweetly’ so that her beloved won’t be offended. The love affair is all in her mind which she thinks is real and this makes her miserable.
These emotions were well conveyed by Sunil, ofcourse Ragam Neelambari by itself has that effect.

Towards the end before the ‘Mangalam’ Sunil sang ‘Vandematram’ in the best suited Ragam Desh.
On the whole the concert was satisfactory almost as good as a live concert sans accompaniments. What is to be seen is the consistency and skill improvement from Sunil’s side.... after all he has an advantage of being young !

About the Author:

Sandhya Shankar belongs to a well respected business family in Chennai. She is a Life Skills & Corporate Trainer by profession. She is an avid reader and a natural writer, who has written several poems and articles. She even presented her poems as a reading at the British council. She has keen interest in all art forms  and has explored many different forms of painting like stained glass and Tanjore being among them. 

Music being her first passion, she had her formal training under Terakotti Chandrasekharaiah at Bangalore and later briefly under Mrs Champa Kumar. She is a regular visitor of concerts, theatre and other live performances. Her witty reviews have gained a loyal and interactive readership for their sound technical commentary and relevance for every kind of melophile, from the casual-goer to the ragam expert, frequenting Chennai’s rich music scene.

(*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Music of Madras.) 

Classical PR .......Palghat Ramprasad


Classical PR


I don’t want to be one more person to whine about the impact of Corona, or profess some knowledge about when the scientists across the globe are going to find the cure or vaccine whichever comes first ! Nor am I sure how this economic crisis the world is going through will play out. I can’t claim that I have discovered any hidden talent within me or that all my relationships are improving and blossoming ! One thing I can state confidently is that, this is the first time in my life, I have seen the entire world come to a standstill. It’s brought the world to its knees and for several people it’s been not just a career changing but life changing experience. Everybody is exhibiting their talent and skills on the social media.... it certainly proved one thing and that is Man is very quick to adapt to any given circumstance ! 
Here, when I use the term ‘Man’, it’s not a gender bias, it’s universal (need to clarify this before all the women activists shout hoarse.... but then they are busy with the issue of the homeless migrants)
Talking about adapting, the Carnatic music fraternity was quick to adapt and kept the connectivity with the music lovers alive by performing online. One of them has been the Mani Krishnaswamy Academy, who has been bringing a lot of good music to our homes. 
On this platform, I happened to listen to Palghat Ramprasad and the first thought that came to my mind was one of regret ... regret that I had not heard him before ! 
I need to admit that last year during the music season, quite a few people had recommended that I go for one of his programmes and also write about it but somehow running between overlapping concerts, I missed going for his... clearly my loss ! 
The morning concert on the FB sans accompaniments or any superior audio system was in a way enjoyable to listen. It was just music without the frills and easier to focus on the voice quality. 
In Palghat Ramprasad, it was a combination of good voice, swarasthanam and bhavam. Being the grandson of the much acclaimed mridangam maestro Palghat Mani Iyer and with a family full of musicians, it’s quite natural that music is a way of life for him. 
His concert started with Muthuswami Dikshitar‘s composition in Ragam Vasantha ‘Margadhalingam Chintayeham’. Dikshitar had his own method in composing songs. He used to visit various temples, and get inspired by the deity there and compose spontaneously on the deity. This particular krithi, is on Lord Maragatheshwar is the presiding deity of the temple in Tiruengoimalai, a place near Trichy. As the name suggests it is on a hilltop which has a serene & meditative atmosphere. There is belief that Parvathi worshipped Shiva here, so it is also known as ShivaShakti malai. The lingam in this temple is said to be transparent and also is said to throw a green shadow when camphor is burnt in front of it, during Arati .... it is referred to as emerald lingam or Maragadhalingam 

It needed me to only listen to the first song to realise that Ramprasad was a musician who doesn’t compromise on the grammar and all other aspects of pure music. 

Ramprasad next chose to sing a Purandaradasa krithi, ‘Devaki Kandha’ set to Ragam Hamsanadham which immediately struck a chord with me. Maybe I am biased, since I am from Bangalore and had learnt several Devaranamas by Purandaradasa and I used to always feel the lack of his compositions in most concerts. 
I had myself learnt this song in Ragam Piloo, which has a Hindustani base to it, and listening to him sing this in Ragam Hamsanadham was different. After all, (wo)man is a creature of habit ! 
Very often Purandaradasa krithis are sung in different ragams because there is no documented notations by him, unlike the Trinity. Apparently Ramprasad had set this song in Hamsanadham and I later came to understand that he has taken it as a project, to give Dasarapadas or Devaranamas a status of being among the main songs which are sung during concerts. Till now they have been relegated to being among the thukkudas, which are sung towards end of the concert, where you see most of the audience exiting. People have spent time setting to tune, contemporary works such as Perumal Murugan and others but no one has taken the same effort for the compositions of the Father of Carnatic. I look forward to other singers taking this up in the future. His initiative is available as ‘Vittala Pravaham’ online, though personally I would prefer them as a solo rendering and not group singing ( he with his students) because it somehow felt like bhajanasampradaya, which again defeats the purpose ! 

Next came a Oothukaadu Venkatkavi’s composition in Ragam Dhanyasi ‘Balakrishnan Pada Malar.’ The essence of the song is that, those who take refuge in Lord Krishna, will know no sorrow and this bhavam of complete surrender was well conveyed by Ramprasad. 

This not being a concert where the artiste can face the audience was a deterrent yet Ramprasad did not let it cloud his singing. He chose to sing Saint Thyagaraja’s composition ‘Adugu Varamula’ in Ragam Aarabhi.

This song is not a standalone composition but a part of a musical play composed by the Saint Thyagaraja called ‘Prahlada Bhakta Vijayam’. The Walajapet manuscript, ‘Sri Tyagaraja Swami Charithram’ makes a special mention about the time and occasion of the composition of the two musical plays he composed, ‘Nowka Charithram’ and ‘Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam’. 

It says that a young boy with a flute appeared before Tyagaraja after the composer had performed his daughter’s marriage and requested the bard to compose songs on him. Thus emerged the Nowka Charitram or Boat Story and the very next day was created the Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam or the victory of Prahlada’s devotion. These plays are a blend of literary & musical excellence and where conversations employ both direct and indirect speech. The composer’s mudra (signature) figures in every song, and (thank god for that lest someone should start a controversy about its authorship) and one finds a repetition of ragams not uncommon in such compositional forms.

 The Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam is in five acts with 45 kritis set in 28 ragas and 138 verses, in different metres in Telugu. I would think that is not an ordinary achievement. I take days to write one review and just imagine writing two musical plays and 700 songs. I wonder how he found the time.... oh but then Kamalahasan has the answer, Saint Thyagaraja didn’t have to worry about meeting expenses or making chapatis for dinner unlike me .....he had other options according to the actor ! 
Prahlad Bhakta Vijayam is a combination of musical genius and undisputed devotion. It is undoubtedly a treat to the ears and contains the potential of being staged as a delightful play. It has Telugu/Sanskrit poetry, grammatical features like kanda padyam, dvipada, utpalamala, champakamala, and dandakam.
Not adopting the same ragam for the whole play, he has used innumerable ragams except that he has used Ragam Saurashtram, for his opening and closing pieces, the influence of Yakshagana is also apparent through other devices he had adopted.

The surprise element surfaces in Act 2. Its first song is the now popular ‘Vandanamu Raghunandana’ in Ragam Sahana, sung by Prahlada, has Thyagaraja identifying Hari with Rama. He does not seem to be unduly bothered that Rama is a later avatara to Narasimha and viewed either historically or from the angle of mythology, did not exist during Prahlada’s time. In fact, strangely throughout the play there is no mention of Narasimha the saviour deity of Prahlada. Such was his single minded devotion to his Lord Rama ! The need to give these details is to elicit the apparent mindset of Saint Thyagaraja. It is unthinkable that someone with this kind of staunch devotion would use his God for any purpose which would bring dishonour to his Lord ! 

The songs from Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam are popular on the concert platform. Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer once observed that Carnatic musicians were rendering its kritis without knowing that they were from Prahlada Bhakta Vijayam. For example, I have also learnt ‘Vandanamu Raghunandana’ without knowing that it was part of a musical play.
The play opens with the kriti, ‘Sri Ganapathin’ in Ragam Saurashtram and it concludes with the famous mangalam in the same ragam, ‘Ni nama rupa mulaku.’ 
Thyagaraja has employed many rakthi ragas such as Huseni, Sahana, Punnagavarali, Pantuvarali, Kalyani, Ghanta, Nilambari, Gaulipantu, Asaveri, Ahiri and Paras.
Among the trinity, it is only Tyagaraja who has composed musical plays. He is also the first to have composed a mangalam in Saurashtram. Rare ragas like Nagagandhari and Parazu along with homely proverbs, thought-provoking similes, references to flora in these the two operas, now doesn’t it reveal a mastermind was at work, and these constitute just a fraction of his work. I hope that all this will establish his stature, while it is certain that his work & fame will outlive anyone’s celluloid fame !! 
For Thyagaraja it was his Lord’s ‘ KAMALanayana’ which mattered ! 
This song ‘Adugu Varamula’ is as if the Lord himself is having a dialogue with Prahlada. He says, ‘O child of a demon and a friend of Thyagaraja, do ask me for favours and I will grant them. I am constantly thinking of you and watching your every step and I am overjoyed with your unswerving devotion. I shall grant you gold, wealth, beautiful houses, loving wife and children because I love you my child. The Lord asks Prahlada in the song ‘Why do you endure so much because of your devotion ? I will kill all those atrocious Rakshasas (to be read as all evil in the world) And this I shall do not out of pity but with valour, and in a grand and praiseworthy manner. I shall grant you the kingdom of Brahma and Indra. I cannot wait to present you all the gems, exquisite ornaments studded with precious stones, elephants, palanquins and horse-drawn carriages and elephants, after all I am a friend of Thyagaraja. The Lord offers him all these despite the fact that Prahlada was a prince and lacked nothing. 
This reminds me of my grandmother giving an explanation for the ritual of doing naivedyam (offering to God) before she eats. When we questioned her, that if God was so great why should we symbolically offer him food ? She used to say that without that ritual it’s just ‘Sadam’ but after the ritual it becomes ‘Prasadam’ ! 

Ramprasad concluded his concert with a soulful sholkam in ragam Sindhu Bhairavi followed by Sadashiva Brahmendra’s composition ‘Sarvam Brahmamayam’ in Madhuvanti.

As for me, I am looking forward to a live concert of Palghat Ramprasad sometime in the future..... 
About the Author:

Sandhya Shankar belongs to a well respected business family in Chennai. She is a Life Skills & Corporate Trainer by profession. She is an avid reader and a natural writer, who has written several poems and articles. She even presented her poems as a reading at the British council. She has keen interest in all art forms  and has explored many different forms of painting like stained glass and Tanjore being among them. 

Music being her first passion, she had her formal training under Terakotti Chandrasekharaiah at Bangalore and later briefly under Mrs Champa Kumar. She is a regular visitor of concerts, theatre and other live performances. Her witty reviews have gained a loyal and interactive readership for their sound technical commentary and relevance for every kind of melophile, from the casual-goer to the ragam expert, frequenting Chennai’s rich music scene.

(*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Music of Madras.) 

Malare Mounama ?

  Malare Mounama ?   It was a humid Friday afternoon on September 25th, when my maid tells me that she is not coming to work for the next fe...