/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How 'eerie' can a phone call get?

Remembering VishnuVardhan

He indeed spread joy everywhere!
Vishnuvardhan and Bharathi in "Parvathi" with the Srikantiahs and Mysore Prabha

How much more 'eerie' does a phone call have to get?

Its 10 a.m. Wednesday Dec 30 in the USA (around 8:30pm in India same day).

A member of the blog is on the phone with Advocate K. Srikantiah wanting to check on some facts related to the old photographs of Karnataka Screen thespians Ananth Nag, Vishnuvardhan and the musical genius Yesudas. In fact, the desire to post the photographs of those names was an inspiration of a couple of days back, as the same member, in accidentally tracking Mr. Srikantiah's whereabouts to Mysore, had finally connected with him but only for a few moments as the latter was about to retire to bed.

Due to the inconvenience of the hour, the blog member was barely able to get past the initial courtesies of a conversation. The only noteworthy sentence that he was able to remember from those few minutes was that the elder had had "...a good time in Mysore connecting with my dear friend Vishnuvardhan for some laughs!..." In someways, this also reminded the member that maybe the next posting on "Parvathi" might as well be on the famed name of Vishnuvardhan and that of the other famous ones that periodically collected in "Parvathi". If so, he needed to speed up the collection and verification of some photographs for the weekend deadline!

The next phone call, made in innocence, today, at the time noted earlier, may perhaps be the eeriest thing that this member would remember for a long time to come in his life "... and I am calling you about putting some Vishnuvardhan's
photographs and thinking of calling it 'Happy times at "Parvathi" '...does the title sound OK to you? "

...and as he waited for the moments silence for the other's elderly voice to synchronize with him in a response, it came in a very sad and feeble but devastating way "... Just want to let you know Vishnuvardhan is no more!...the airways have all been carrying the news....I just came away to Bangalore...left him behind in Mysore... and now he is no more!...how can one forget thirty years and more of this great friendship!...."

This Karnataka screen legend departed his mortal frame of fame around 3am Wednesday Dec 30 in Mysore, on cardiac arrest.

From our side, we can but only honor him in sharing whatever he leaves behind with us!

Vishnuvardhan being honored 1994 along with Mysore's other famous sons! Silver Jubilee Commemeration of Chowdiah in "Parvathi"

Honoring friend Yesudas for his music in "Parvathi"

Friends all - Vishnuvardhan, Bharathi, Yesudas, Srikantiahs and Mysore Prabha

Friday, December 25, 2009

Chowdiah: "I call them but GNB in sarees! "

Whenever the name Radha & Jayalakshmi pops up these days a simultaneous void is cast in many a heart, as is echoed in these sentiments from many members of a well known forum:

“I have an impression that the music world has totally forgotten this duo”
“I agree. I was floored by an astounding amruthavarshini and have been searching for more from this duo” or

“Their music is a beautiful breeze” In 50s, they were most sought musicians by almost all the Sabhas.
etc. "

There are any number of reasons (all but only known to the one above) why anyone’s life takes a particular pattern. Ours can only be one of speculation, till the sources themselves decide to reveal the real reasons. Till then, we can only draw upon their beautiful memories and recall them as fresh as they were during the days when theirs was but to command.

We offer the following (close to our hearts) picture of the duo performing in “Parvathi”, Mysore in 1962.

[Courtesy: Book "Sangeetharatna Mysore T. Chowdaiah" by K. Srikantiah; Prasaranga, University of Mysore 2007]

During their performance, a very distinguished guest, a great admirer of theirs and a well known colleague and a friend of their Guru, GNB, happened to drop in to offer them his encouragement; it was none other than Sriman T. Chowdiah , himself! (please look for picture displayed elsewhere). What greater tribute can one obtain than the one that Chowdiah bestowed on them by calling them “GNB in Sarees!” and by adding “Listening to their heavenly performance I have lost my mind!”

We offer you Chowdiah’s living voice from that day:

And, finally, a concert

[01-Paripalayamam-Reetigowla; 02-Rararajeeva-Mohanam; 03-Evarimata-Kambodi; 04-Emani-VeeraVasantham; 05-RTP-Shanmukhapriya; 06-Sharavana-Shanmukhapriya; 07-Tharakka- Tilang ; 08-SHLOKA-Kedaragowla, Saveri;]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why their music can only be Divine?

They say that the most miniscule drop of ambrosia is sufficient for immortality.

It is only with such thoughts that we console ourselves and bring you the remnants of an almost destroyed tape, on what might have been an extraordinary concert of the early 60’s by the Alathur Brothers and who else? but T.Chowdiah and Palghat Mani in “Parvathi”, Mysore. While the snatches of a brilliant ‘Tani’ between Mani-Chowdiah in a barely preserved 3 minute ‘Chakanniraja’ reveals their virtuosity, the Alathur Brothers rendering of ‘Epapamu’ (the only fully retrieved piece) reveals an extraordinary devotion. As everyone knows by now, the Brothers were known to be adepts in ‘laya’.

Bhakti’ is the one singular aspect that the great artists from the past brought from their own lives into their performances. Their voices, back then, revealed that aspect of the theatre of their lives. The compositions that they sang all came from Saints who had revelations (Purandara Dasa, Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar et.al.) and who expressed themselves only poetically of their divine experiences ( ‘Kavim Kavinaam Upa mashra vastamam’ ). The ‘Vidwans’ and the ‘Vidushis’ who carried their expressions to us masses were basically ‘Upasakaras’ and fixed in the ‘Niyamas’ of the faith and tradition of their times.

This is brought to us in many ways and in many aspects of all the artists of old; we learn how Chowdiah was devoted to his Guru Bidaram Krishnappa and was a great Anjaneya devotee. We learn of another example, from that of GNB and we let the following words ( written by a person who could not be any closer to him ) amongst other things speak for itself

“... Pooja. He had a mantap built specially for his puja and it had a Mahameru, Srichakram, and also a 8inch panchaloha idol of His ishtadevatha Nadaroopa sundari, made at home on his instructions.”

Of “Parvathi” itself, we have shown of how the place was a transported mini-durbar from the Wodeyar’s durbar, sans the royal regalia. The same leading citizens of art and culture would move from there to here. Through our posting “Homams”, and through participating pictures of Vasudevachar, M.S. Subbalakshmi, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Umayalpuram Sivaraman et.al. we have shown how the ‘yagnas’ of prayer and music would take place. We have Chowdiah himself expressing through an audio of how the matriarch of the family would be found “twenty-four hours” in supplication. On K. Puttu Rao and Chowdiah we found the following interesting link

“... after visiting Kanyakumari we (Chowdiah, K.Puttu Rao and K.Srikantiah) were on our way to Madurai. On the way we halted at a wayside village temple to enable my father (K.Puttu Rao) to perform the evening ‘sandhyavandanam’…..the local onlookers (then) recognized Chowdiah and gasped “Soundayya!” ….the priest (at that point) entered the scene and pleaded Chowdiah to give a ‘sevartha’ concert there…”

To sum up all this ‘devotional’ aspect of the past and difference in generations today we leave you best with the words of the great mridangist Dr. T.K. Murthy ’s take on this:

“Tyagaraja sang and Lord Rama came. Muthuswami Diskhitar sang and Lord Murugan came.

Shyama Sastri sang and Goddess Kamakshi came.

Purandaradasa sang and Lord Narayana came.

Who comes when we sing?

They forgot themselves when they sang. That is bhakti. They were totally devoted to their God.

It is not like the way we sing today.

These days we pray that we will go to the temple and break 2 coconuts if we get 1 lakh rupees or if a marriage gets fixed.

We must totally surrender to God! "

Now, onto whatever music we could save.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

1970 - A Watershed Year

[Photo Courtesy: Academy of Music, Bangalore]
President of India A.P.J.Abdul Kalam at the Chowdiah Memorial 25th year Jubilee
honoring eminent musician Pandit Shivkumar Sharma
[Left to right: President of India A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Chief Minister Karnataka N. Dharam Singh, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Music Academy President K.K. Murthy (who invited the President), Karnataka Governor T. N. Chaturvedi and Transport Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge.]

We have hinted, in many of our earlier postings of how 1970 was the ‘watershed’ year in the Chowdiah Memorials coming up.

The popular newspaper The Hindu, in attempting to capture the same sentiment on the 25th anniversary celebration of the Memorial in 2005, wrote inline “As he walked one morning in a park, K.K. Murthy, former chairman of the BDA ruminated over M.L. Vasanthakumari's concert he had heard the previous evening at the Ramanavami music festival. "I remember the concert went on till midnight and it was heaven," recalls this working president of the Academy of Music, an independent registered body that administers the Memorial Hall.”
K. K. Murthy’s words "the previous evening" related to April 15, 1970, the evening in “Parvathi”, Mysore, honoring the memory of T. Chowdiah.

The Mysore event had been inaugurated by Karnataka Governor Dharmavira (a very popular Governor in India) along with Karnataka Industries Minister Rajasekhar Murthy, who by then had both become close friends to the house of “Parvathi”. T. Chowdiah’s violin was on display to the thronging crowds of his native town and the joyousness of the occasion coupled with ML Vasanthakumari’s music, her eulogizing Chowdiah and the aftermath of dinner with those that mattered culminated in the ‘Sankalpa’ that there must be a fitting memorial to the memory of such a great stalwart of Carnatic Music.

But, as the earlier Hindu article also pointed out, this was an act easier said than done! As the son of the man who spearheaded the project K.K. Murthy recalls in a posted video on the blog , the bank balance was but an astronomical figure of only Rs. 500! ($10 in today’s conversion).

What followed, is something for the history pages to decide, as we leave you here with some connecting pictures, a full concert by Vidushi MLV and her speech, all for your enjoyment.

Minister Rajasekhar Murthy addresses, while an attentive Governor Dharma Vira listens

An evening of 'trupthi' with Vidushi ML Vasanthakumari and party

[ 01_Jagadanandakaraka_Nattai;02_Manasu Nilpa_Abhogi;03_Saketanagaranatha_Hari Kambhoji; 04_Bhagayanayya_Chandrajyothi;05_Eduta nilachite_Sankarabharanam; 06_Mariyadagadayya_Bhairavam; 07_RTP_Shanmukhapriya;08_Yake Nirdaya_Ragamalika; 09-Shloka, Amrutahuni goad, Baliyamanege,Baro Krishnayya_Ragamalika; 10_Pavamana Mangalam_Saurashtra; ]


Leading by example? Academy of Music President K.K. Murthy occupies a front row listening to MLV.
That 'rapt attention' would pay dividends later!

Some others too with a rapt attention on MLV!
Prof. H.S.K. Iyengar, India's great novelist R.K. Narayan and Agaram Rangaiah, Editor "Sadhvi".

Ah, even a Governor eats with his hands when the dinner is in "Parvathi"!
Minister Rajasekhar Murthy, K. Srikantiah, Governor Dharma Vira, K.K. Murthy

Finally, remembering the man who came to the support of a Memorial !

Advocate Srikantiah's family at home to Chief Minister Gundu Rao and Mrs. Varalakshmi Rao

Academy President Murthy ,too, remembers in gratitude!
Felicitating Mrs. Varalakshmi Rao with Karnataka Chief Minister Dharam Singh

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The first woman to perform the RTP : Sangeetha Kalanidhi Vidushi D.K. Pattamal

With this posting, we bring you that ‘grand old lady’ of our Carnatic musical heritage and Padma Bhushan, Smt. D.K. Pattamal, about whom we find ourselves unable to add any more to the extraordinary amount of material that is already out there. As the year winds down, however, we remember with certain sadness, that it was only this July that she passed away from our midst. In her wake, however, she has left behind such a rich and lasting legacy that we feel that our own lifetimes may be insufficient to absorb even a sufficient amount of her.

In paying homage to her, we would like to just remind ourselves of the core things that made up her personality,the formative years of her life and just how rare were her gifts and accomplishments.

“…She received no formal Gurukula training. As a child, (she) would sit through the concerts, and on returning home, would notate the kritis she heard, and key phrases of ragas…She would also sing simple devotional hymns and songs that her father had taught her…Later, she received tuition from an unnamed Telegu-speaking musician, whom she would call "Telugu vadyar" or "Telegu teacher"…. At age 8, she won first prize for singing Thyagaraja’s "Raksha Bettare" in Bhairavi, at a competition…”

“(In later life) her knowledge was encyclopedic and she was considered as an authority on Muthuswami Dikshitar’s compositions.…(She) was also the first woman to have performed the Ragam Thanam Pallavi (RTP) in concerts…She was not just a musician, but a patriot and freedom fighter who used her art to propagate the struggle for Indian independence...."

[courtesy of words borrowed from
and 'Rasikas']

We leave you with a snapshot of Vidushi D.K.Pattamal performing in "Parvathi" in 1976 with Vidwan D.K. Jayaraman, Vidwan Seshagiri Rao (violin) and Vidwan Kuniseri Krishna Mani Iyer (Mridangam, and teacher of Vidwan Mannargudi Easwaran) along with the audio from the concert

If the audio doesn't play, please click here

[01-Varnam-Pantuvarali; 02-Evarani-Devamruthavarshini; 03-Sujanajeevana-Kamas; 04-Nadachi Nadachi-Kharaharapriya; 05-Sandehamu-Kalyani; 06-Elavatarame-Mukhari; 07-He Kamakshi Ekambreshwari-Yadukula Kambhoji (composer 'Andavan Pichai') ; 08-Mohanarama-Mohanam; 09-Bhajare-Abheri; 10-Mamava PattabhiRama-Manirangu; 11-Neenaayako-Ragamalika; 12-Nan Oru Vilayattu Bommeyya-Khamach; 13-Shloka & Theeradavilyattu-Ragamalika; 14-Kavadi Chindu-Bhairavi; 15-Rama Enniro-Vasantha; 16-Thillana-Bilahari; 17-Bhavayami Raghuramam-Ragamalika ]