Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MLV 80th Birthday Celebration

MLV - Melody Layam Vidwat has been the expansion given to the legendary musician srimathi M.L.Vasanthakumari by her students and fans. On July 3 and 4, 2009 at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Main hall, a function was launched by Dr.MLV rasikar mandram. I had been there on July 4. The guests of honour were sangeetha kalanidhi sri T.N.Seshagopalan who shared his personal experiences with MLV. He mentioned that it was MLV who introduced him to Mumbai Shanmukhananda sabha in seventies. Its very rare to find an artiste who refer another artiste and that too very junior to them, as quoted by TNS sir.

The other guest was Mr.Seshasayee, MD Ashok Leyland, who was popularly known to many as MD, but very few know about his Musical skills. He has been blessed to be with MLV personally. He shared his experiences with her, that portrayed her humbleness. He was painting in his room and suddenly MLV came inside and asked him whether if he could teach her painting and in turn, she could teach him music. I was just moved to tears on hearing this! Yeah!! She being the lioness of carnatic music circle and how humble and simple was she to ask in such a polite way? Definitely, MLV was simplicity personified!!

The third guest was Ms Kanimozhi, MP. I liked the way she spoke. She felt a lot for not being closely associated with MLV personally. Even I use to feel the same whenever I think about MLV. Though I am connected with her through the songs, I use to feel a lot for not having seen her in person.

After these nostalgic speeches, there came Padmashri Sudha Ragunathan, one of the disciples of MLV. She launched a DVD about MLV which carried the title Melody - Layam - Vidwat. This DVD is to be released on her commemoration day, that falls on October 31, 2009. It was a wonderful DVD that can be kept as a treasure. A preview was played which was very impressive.

Followed by this there was a carnatic music concert, by Sudha. The accompanists were Sri Embar Kannan(Violin), Mannargudi sri Easwaran (Mridangam) and Sri B.S.Purushottaman (Kanjira). Easwaran sir's mridangam needs special appreciation. He was the heart beat for the concert, executing apt layams at appropriate places. Sudha's singing needs no special elaboration. It was as usual superb!

The concert kick started with starry navaragamalika varnam. Then came siddhi vinayakam in the raga chaamaram (aka shanmukhapriya) by dikshithar. There were fast flowing kalpana swaras. I use to feel that MLV use to sing swaras on the fly. I could see that in Sudha on that day.

Then sudha choose, raaka sasi vadana (dakka). Following that she sung raguvara in pantuvarali with elaborate alapana which was enjoyable. Then came MLV fame chalanata kriti of Kotiswara Iyer, Yedaiyya gathi. The artiste portrayed the raga bhavam while singing the phrase "bhoothala chala naattaa".

After the steady chalanatta, there came the scintillating kadhanakuthookalam. She sang, a devi kriti, composed by GeNius Balasubramanian (GNB) [courtesy for the name - Ramanathan N Iyer's blog on carnatica.net]

Then came the queen bhairavi. Sudha's massive imagination is portrayed in her alapana. She never bores here rasika through alapana and makes it more interesting by doing some innovation as her guru MLV does. She chose the kriti balagopala of Muthuswami Dikshithar. Sudha once said in an interview that she practiced a sangathi in anu pallavi of that song (neela niratha sareera dheera) for a whole night. I doubt her on that. She must have practiced the entire song like that :)

Bhairavi flowed like the ganges and so did the feel of that song. Several songs were sung as listener's choice. I just spoke about the main songs that captured my mind very much.

What I felt was, it was not Sudha's concert. It was MLV's concert. In the place of Sudha, her guru MLV was there. In Kannan's place, his guru violin maestro Kanyakumari was seated. Already Easwaran sir was there in mridangam place and instead of Purushottaman, Kanjira exponent Harishankar was there. Concert in memory of MLV would be there in my memory forever.

Smt.Parvathi Gurumurthy, Tamil Teacher at Sivaswami Kalalaya, an ardent fan of MLV has written a book (Vasantha Kumari Pillai thamizh) which has 100 songs about the legend MLV. Its a worthy book to be read by every admirers of MLV.

P.S. - Pillai thamizh is sung in praise of a person, thinking him/her as a child. From a child's third month to its 21st month, the time span is divided into 10 stages and each stage will have 10 songs.

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