RAJKUMAR BHARATI - Gifted musician and composer
Prodigiously talented, expansively creative, generous, loving, a sensitive human being – these are the first remarks we hear when we mention Rajkumar Bharati. Indeed, most of the music and dance fraternity today knows Rajkumar as a gifted musician and composer. But there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Born on 24 June 1958, Rajkumar Bharati is the great grandson of ‘Mahakavi’ Subramania Bharati, whose writings and fiery songs added fuel to the patriotic fire in a country struggling its way out of colonial rule. He is the son of Venkatasubramanian and Lalita Bharati, the younger daughter of Thangammal Bharati, the second of Subramania Bharati’s daughters.
TANJAVUR S. VENKOBA NAIG - ‘Abhang Samrat’
The bhajana sampradaya is an important musical tradition in south India. The great bhajanakaras expressed their devotion to God through music, adopted and added Maharashtrian abhangs to their bhajana repertoire of devotional songs of south Indian composers. When Ekoji, stepbrother of Chhatrapati Shivaji ascended the Tanjavur throne in 1675, after the Nayaks’ rule, Samartha Ramdas came to Tanjavur. During his stay there, he established a few mathams, nominating some of his disciples as the heads of those seats. Thus keertan, which later came to be known as Harikatha kalakshepam, after the inclusion of songs in many south Indian languages and innovations by Tanjavur ‘Patti’ Krishna Bhagavatar, became very popular. It was customary in the Tanjavur district to render Maharashtrian abhangs almost every day in the mathams and on some festive occasions. There was perhaps no Maratha family in Tanjavur, that neither sang nor attended abhang sessions.
THE MS CENTURY
Though I hail from a district in Tamil Nadu known as the cradle of classical Carnatic music, my technical knowledge of music is next to nothing. But I enjoy good music instinctively, perhaps, because of the soil to which I belong. Also I have this consolation that one need not be a meteorologist to enjoy good weather. I may not be far wrong when I say a critical knowledge is likely to interfere with one’s spontaneous appreciation of a moving melody.
In 1984, I was asked in a radio interview in Regina (Canada) organised by an Indian Association, to tell them my most favourite song, which, they said they would play at the end. I told them it was a film song rendered by MS, in the Tamil version of ‘Meera’ and added they might find it difficult to find the cassette. They took up the challenge and on the very next day, soon after my interview, this song by MS was broadcast; it moved me to the depths of my being.
PALLAVI VENKATARAMA IYER
Two months ago, one of my father’s (Pallavi Venkatrama Iyer) disciples, Paiyur C. Gopala Krishnan, a regular accompanist to Sirkazhi G. Sivachidambaram, called to remind me about my father’s centenary this year. In the past five or six years there have been many centurions like Madurai Mani Iyer, GNB and Alathur Brothers. All of them took to music as their profession and were well known among the rasikas. They were honoured and remembered by all. However, as my father was not a professional, very few may remember that this is his centenary year. No regrets, since he was well respected by all the senior musicians till his last.
Venkatarama Iyer was born on 2 September 1915. He learnt vocal music from Salem Doraiswamy Iyengar, then switched to the flute, as a student of Salem Venu Pillai. He was very close to Flute Mali. He started a trust in his name, along with Mali’s disciples T.S. Sankaran (who passed away a few months ago) and N. Ramani.