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Individual Issues

Profile : S. Rajam at 90
Issue : 295
Published on : April, 2009


Special Feature : Septuagenarian Kottakkal Sivaraman; Prof RC Mehta


Bringing Back old Tiruvaiyaru
Music in Sacred Spaces

A religion and culture editor, a psychotherapist, a poet, a housewife, and a writer – women formidable by any standard – made great company! We made a motley group with a musicologist from the Netherlands travelling to witness the first "Tiruvaiyaru on Kaveri – a festival of Sacred Music" organised by Chennai based Prakriti Foundation. Though associated with Prakriti Foundation, as its cultural coordinator from its inception, this time I was going only as part of the audience as I did not play any role in the organization of the festival. Ranvir Shah, founder of Prakriti Foundation was standing in the scorching sun of Tiruvaiyaru as he got the Panchanadeeswara temple cleaned for Bombay Jayashri’s concert. Theatre actor and director Pravin Kumar worked on the mood lighting. Together they created discreet lighting on the temple gopuram which was the backdrop for the concert and soft lighting on the musicians. The many bronze lamps of varying sizes that Ranvir had carted from Chennai were lit in front of the dais.

Ranvir wanted to host three kutcheri-s at three different and unique venues in the town. So on Day One (February 26), Bombay Jayashri performed at the Sree Panchanadeeswara Temple, sitting on a stage surrounded by glowing earthen lamps. She sang compositions on Siva. The silence and the stillness and the sense of peace that pervaded the Panchanadeeswara temple were reflected in the soulful music of Jayashri. Particularly haunting was the Dwijavanti Akhilandeswari. Pravin and the sound expert Kalai Selvan moved all the equipment after the concert to Pushya Mandapa by the Kaveri for Jayanthi Kumaresh’s veena concert the next day (February 27). Click here to read more ...


S. Rajam – A Rare Gem

90th birthday celebrations at home

Musician, musicologist and artist S. Rajam turned 90 on February 10, 2009. At Sruti it was a special day for celebration as "Rajam Sir" has been associated with the magazine almost since its inception. Many members of the Sruti Parivaar assembled at Rajam's home at 41, Nadu Street to greet and pay obeisance to the grand old man. A delighted Rajam Sir recalled that it was customary to visit Tirukkadaiyur to celebrate such milestones in a person’s life. However, as health did not permit him to undergo the strain of travelling, he spontaneously invoked the blessings of the deity of Tirukkadaiyur by singing Muthuswami Dikshitar’s kriti Sankaram Abhirami manoharam in a voice that rang out strong and clear. He insisted that all of us should sing along. We did so for a few lines and gave up as we could not keep pace with his sangati-s!

It was a memorable occasion for all of us as Rajam Sir cut the cake we had ordered. We honoured him with a shawl, and presented him with a specially designed card and poster which read "S. Rajam – A Rare Gem". Click here to read more ...


The Royal Heroine of Kathakali - K.K. GOPALAKRISHNAN

Septuagenarian Kottakkal Sivaraman, the Kathakali actor renowned for his heroine roles, is the recipient of the first Mali-Karnasapadam award, instituted by the Mali Foundation in memory of the late Mali V. Madhavan Nair, for his lifetime contributions to Kathakali.

Kottakkal Sivaraman is 72. Discharged from hospital after a couple of months of chikan guniya, he is well on his way to recovery. The man who delighted Kathakali followers for over five decades felt let down that they stayed away in his moment of suffering. "This is the fate of any Kathakali artist in Kerala", he says, sitting on the veranda of his house, surrounded by nature, in Karalmanna of Palakkad district.

It was through Sivaraman, the female characters of Kathakali, traditionally donned by men, earned recognition and equal status with male characters, especially in the northern school of the art. Advancing years have compelled him to substantially limit his performances and retire from most of his celebrated roles, except that of Damayanti in Nalacharitam and Kunti in Karnasapadam. Click here to read more ...


Prof. R.C. Mehta
An Institution and an Institution Builder - DEEPAK S. RAJA

In the first week of January 2009, when the Sangeet Natak Akademi announced the Akademi Ratna award for Prof. R.C. Mehta, his phone did not stop ringing for several days. The Akademi award was the crowning glory of a distinguished career that had already been honoured many times before by other cultural organisations. But, when his name appeared in the list of Padma Bhushan awardees on January 26, his friends and admirers mistook it for some other Ramanlal C. Mehta. Hardly anyone could have imagined that a musicologist would be included in the Republic Day awards. When the truth dawned, Prof. Mehta’s phone started buzzing once again

This is the significance of Prof. R.C. Mehta's dual decoration. His services to musicology, and to the community of musicologists, have elevated the entire profession – no bigger than a few hundred in India – to a level of consideration at the highest levels of decision making in the country. Click here to read more ...

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