Cerebral Shangrila

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Behind every successful artiste is a liberal parent

It seemed to be the best seat to choose. I had just entered the concert hall as Ravikiran was winding up his concert with the Mangalam. The next concert was by Sanjay and it was expected to be a full house. I wanted to get the best seat and though this seat was a lone empty seat in a crowded row, it had the best view of the stage.

I settled in the seat and to my left was an "Iyer Mama", close to 60 years of age with Vibhuti splashed liberally over the forehead. The Mangalam got over and it was announced that the next concert would begin in 15 minutes. That is how the conversation began :

Him : Are you new to Sydney, I haven't seen you in past concerts?

I ( I quickly guessed that he was a veteran of carnatic music scene in Sydney) : Yes, I am new to Sydney. I just moved here 6 months ago.

Him : It is good to see youngsters (!!) like you being interested in carnatic music.

I : Thanks. It is an interest passed on from my dad. How long have you lived in Sydney?

Him : I came here 35 years ago. Most of the accompanists who play here were all introduced by me and our circle.

I: wow. For someone who has lived here for 35 years, your Tamil is still intact. It has lost none of the Madras brahmin flavor.

Him: Thanks. We always speak Tamil at home. Btw, I lived more in Bangalore than Chennai but still how can we forget our language and culture. In fact, my daughter although born here in Australia is well trained in our language and culture.

I: That is very good to hear.

Him : In fact, she is a well trained dancer, winner of Miss India Australia and is now an actress in south Indian films.

My trivia brain immediately started working its way and quickly deduced the gentleman next to me was none other than the father of Actress Vimala Raman.

I: Are you the father of Vimala Raman?

Him (Excitedly): Yes, How did you know?

I: I have seen her movie "Poi" and also attended a Bharathanatyam recital by her in Singapore.

Him ( Calling his wife): He knows Vimala and has attended her dance performance.

That is when his wife turned to look at me. The resemblance was very palpable, Vimala looked exactly like her mom (minus the wrinkles).

Him : She can speak Tamil very well too. She learnt dance for a long time and even now performs when she gets time. She chose to pursue a career in films and now lives in Chennai.
She is a very intelligent girl and hence we decided to allow her to pursue her career of choice. Once they become adults, we should be an advisor to them and not a decision maker.

Something tugged at my heart then. I suddenly became an unabashed admirer of his liberal values . Here was someone, who wanted his daughter to grow up in a conservative manner but yet had the courage to not force his value system on her, once she became an adult.

We chatted for a few more minutes and promised to keep in touch. Hopefully I will meet him again during other concerts. I should conclude by saying " Behind every successful artiste, there is a liberal parent".

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sanjay Subramanian - Live at Sydney - Concert Review

It has been raining music in Sydney. Braving the cold weather and drizzle, rasikas turned up in full steam (with steaming filter coffee for company) at the UWS Campus for the 3-day Sydney Music Festival.

Sanjay started the concert in his usual brisk manner with the Viriboni varnam in "Bhairavi" sung to three speeds - Vilamba, Madhyama and Dhuridha Kaalam. It was a great warm-up for the day, akin to a Sehwag sixer in the 1st over. He then sang the Thiruvarutpa " Sama Geetha Priyan" in Raaga "Gaulai". I had listened to this song a few years ago in Sanjay's Jaya TV Margazhi Mahotsavam concert. His pronunciation was commendable with no "Sanskrit vaadai". The next two songs were the Thyagaraja compositions "Evari Kai" in Raaga "Devamanohari" and "Janaka" in Raaga "Asaveri". He elaborated the "Asaveri" Raaga for 5 minutes giving enough glimpse of this rarely sung raaga.

Next came a "Kamboji" raaga alapana that was out of the world and then followed with the song " Adiyenai" that dripped with Karuna rasa, a hallmark of Kamboji. Hindolam is one of my favorite ragas and Sanjay sang a quick "Neerajakshi", preparing the listeners for the RTP. Just when you thought RTP was around the corner, there was yet another brisk " Niravathi" in raaga "Ravi chandrika" that added pace and fervor to the concert.

He started the RTP and within seconds I was throwing by dice between raagas "Nattai" Vs "Chala Nattai" - which were both unusual choices for an RTP. Quickly I figured it was indeed "Chala Nattai" and was amazed by his choice of this rare raga for an elaborate rendition. Contrary to my expectations, he didn't sing a ragamalika and sang the RTP fully in one raga for almost 45 minutes. He brought the intricacies of this beautiful & romantic raaga and kept the audience enthralled for the next hour. Though a Melakartha raagam (36th), Chala nattai has rarely been sung in an elaborate manner in concerts. On a related note, Illayaraja, the musical genius had captured the essence of this raga in the beautiful melody " Pani Vizhum Malar Vanam". As Sanjay elaborated the raaga, I realized the boundless genius of Illayarja for capturing the raaga's essence in a mere 4 minutes song. The more he sang it, "Pani Vizhum" was running like a background score in my mind. Viloiinist Nagai Sriram followed Sanjay in an adept manner throughout the rendition. The Kriti chosen was "Jalame".

How can one not have a Bharathiyar composition? "Payum Oli Nee" followed next (Not sure what the raaga is , seemed like Mand to me) and Sanjay 's delight was evident as he enjoyed singing it, imagining himself as the great poet. It was followed by "Vizhikku thunai" a virutham in "Mohanam" and "Va Va" in "Sindhu Bhairavi". I adore Sindhu Bhairavi and wished Sanjay had sung a bit more of it. He then wrapped up the concert with a Thillana in "Kapi" and Mangalam.

It was a phenomenal concert and yet another exhibition of the creative peak that Sanjay has been enjoying in the past few years.Great start to a weekend !

Here is the full song list:

1. Viriboni - Bhairavi
2. Sama geetha - Gaula
3. Evari kai - Deva manohari
4. Janaka - Asaveri
5. Adiyenai - Kamboji
6. Neerajakshi - Hindolam
7. Niravathi - Ravi chandrika
8. Jalame - Chala Nattai
9. Payum oli - Mand (I think so)
10. Vizhikku - Mohanam, Sindhu Bhairavi, vaa vaa
11. Thillana - Kapi
12. Mangalam - Sowrashtram


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Is Maran set to follow?

With deep apologies to Shelley who must be turning in his grave, " If Raja goes can Maran be far behind"?

If this CNN-IBN article is to be believed, the allegations against Maran (Apart from the Aircel Scandal) are nothing short of serious.