/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": Madurai Somu – music that stormed Mysore from "Parvathi"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Madurai Somu – music that stormed Mysore from "Parvathi"

Inside "Parvathi" and feeling very happy, indeed! - Palghat Raghu, Madurai Somu, M.S. Gopalakrishnan
Vidwan Madurai S. Somasundaram (1919-1989), popularly known as Madurai Somu, is one of the most remembered vocalists who adorned the "Parvathi" concert platform for many years and shone brightly in the firmament of artistes who left their mark on the Ganapati and Ramanavami festivals and in the memory of T. Chowdiah, there. Hailing from the Chittoor Subrahmanya Pillai school, Madurai Somu brought incredible energy and passion into every concert. His concerts invariably lasted 3-4 hours and he was always featured with top-notch accompaniment of stalwarts like Lalgudi Jayaraman, M. S. Gopalakrishnan, M. Chandrasekharan, Palghat Raghu, Guruvayoor Dorai, Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Vellore Ramabhadran and so on.When Madurai Somu first came to "Parvathi", Mr. Srikantiah could not reconcile his diminutive figure and mild conversational voice with his reputation as a resonant vocalist. But once he went on stage, he lit the stage aglow with a vibrant, sruti-aligned voice that scaled a wide range from 'mandara' to 'tara sthayi' and held the audience captive right from the four-speed varnam to the final devotional pieces. True to the Chittoor bani, laya was his forte and the accompanists exulted in his racy delivery. Somu etched himself into every one’s heart with his colossal manodharma and profound rendering of ragas of substance that are the quintessential treasures of Carnatic music. His concerts in "Parvathi" always drew mammoth crowds who filled the pandal as well as the surrounding areas outside the compound wall. In fact, Mr. Srikantiah would announce that the concert would end by 10 PM out of consideration to students in the adjoining Maharaja’s College Hostel . But the students themselves would loudly remonstrate that the concert should go on, as they wanted to enjoy Somu's music. Call it coincidence or otherwise, Somu’s concerts most often brought a welcome downpour in the city. The "Parvathi" pandal was built sturdily with 32 tarpaulins for waterproofing and a gabled roof that rose more than 20 feet. But the public power supply often played truant when it rained. And yet the music would soon resume after a brief interruption with generator back-up for the mikes. Once the downpour ended, the people listening outside would gladly reassemble from the surrounding residential areas where they had sought shelter during the downpour. Somu once rendered a memorable Sriranjani and sang the kriti Sogasuga Mridanga Talamu. When he came to the words, “navarasayuta-kriti che bhajiyinchu”, he seemed overwhelmed with emotion and stopped singing, with tears in his eyes. It took several minutes for him to regain his composure and continue. Later he confided in Srikantiah that just the previous day, during his concert in Salem, there had been an ugly incident caused by miscreants during the Lord Sri Rama procession. He recalled that sad incident at that point on the stage and felt immense grief. Such was his passionate devotion and involvement in the singing.

1971 - another view under the "Parvathi" canopies - Palghat Raghu, Ramachar, Madurai Somu, Lalgudi Jayaraman

Somu sang the 'manodharma sangeetha' that was his hallmark for a good 2-3 hours and then regaled the audience with more, in the lighter segment. He sang a trademark kriti that extolled all the famous deities in South Indian temples like Meenakshi, Kamakshi and so on in a delightful ragamalika. He was always requested by the audience to sing in the end his famous film song, 'Marudamalai Mamaniye Murugayya' from the Devar Films’ production Daivam. Madurai Somu sang over a dozen times in Parvathi, starting in 1971. The crowds always asked when his concert was billed. Somu's unique music continues to endure in the rasika’s memory for its classicism, emotive appeal, verve and weightiness. Likewise, Somu also dearly loved to perform in "Parvathi", and said with feeling that his music always rose to a new level being next to Sri Rama who was enthroned under the Parijatha tree.

[Excerpted from R. Sachidananda's "Recorded Conversations with Advocate Kunigal Srikantiah" (a private collection) ]


1975 "Parvathi" - Madurai Somu, M.Chandrasekharan (Violin), Guravayur Dorai (Mridangam), H.P. Ramachar (Kanjira), M.A.Krishnamurthy (Ghatam), Nagaratnam (Morsing)

[01 Ninnu nammi naanu – Shuddha Dhanyasi varnam ; 02 Shakti Ganesham – Shuddha; 03 Seetapate naamanasuna- Khamach; 04 Parameshwaram Jagadeeshwaram – Kumarapriya ; 05 Abhayamu chakkave – Ahiri; 06 Banturiti – Hamsanadam; 07 Pakkala Neelabadi – Kharaharapriya; 08 Sogasuga Mridanga – Sriranjani; 09 Koluva maragatha – Todi; 10 O Rama nee nama – Poorvikalyani; 11 Rama namamu – Athana; 12 Ninnai Kada neramillai – Bageshri; 13 Enna kavi paadinalum – Shivaranjani ; 14- Maduraiyil Meenakshi – Ragamalika; 15 Elumalai vasanakku – Abheri; 16 Viruttam – Ragamalika; 17 Marudamalai maamaniye – Darbari Kanada ; 18 Bhajo re bhayya – Desh?; 19 Nada bindu kala swaroopa – Jhinjuti; 20 Vande mataram – sloka – Madhyamavati ; 21 Pavamana –mangalam - Sourashtra]