Dance is her life. She was the reigning diva of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi for several decades from the 1960s. She rose to fame with her magnetic stage presence, virtuosity and presentations exuding power, artistic pride, and an overt sensuality, which gave a new dimension to the arts in the post-devadasi phase. Often performing three classical dance forms in her concerts, she is one of the most celebrated Indian classical dancers of the 20th century. Her performances highlighted the majesty of Bharatanatyam, the speed and grace of Kuchipudi, and the lyrical languor of Odissi. The veteran dancer-teacher who has made Delhi her home stepped into her eighties in December 2019. Named Yamini Poornatilaka by her grandfather, a noted Urdu poet, Yamini, started her training in Bharatanatyam as a child at Kalakshetra, Chennai. She subsequently learnt from well-known nattuvanars Ellappa Pillai and Kittappa Pillai, as also from Mylapore Gowri Amma. After her debut in 1957 at Chennai, Yamini was the rising star. She trained in Kuchipudi with eminent gurus Vedantam Lakshmi Narayana Sastri, Chinta Krishnamurthi, and Pasumarthy Venugopal Krishna Sharma.
Ghatam, the quintessential musical earthen pot, has become synonymous with the name of S. Karthick, for he alone enjoys the popularity of being referred to as ‘Ghatam Karthick’. As a child, the earthen pot that could produce music in its pure, earthy and natural form (unlike other instruments crafted to produce music) fascinated him. He would accompany his mother and aunt to the shop, buy pots, play on them, break them and buy new ones! This continued till he decided while in class seven that he wanted to become a ghatam artist. “My DNA for music is from amma,” says Karthick. Though he is the first generation musician in his family, his mother, Padma Subramaniam, a vocalist, had sung for dance programmes of Vyjayanthimala Bali, Chitra Visweswaran, and Kumari Kamala to name a few. She learnt music in Delhi from T.R. Subramanyam and thereafter in Chennai at the College of Music where she learnt from the likes of K.V. Narayanaswamy and Rajam Iyer. Music did come to Karthick easily as his mother trained him.
Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti popularly referred to as “Nalli” or “Chettiar”, is a famous textile industrialist and a liberal donor for arts, culture and education. Over the past 50 years, a major portion of the patronage for several sabhas in Chennai comes from this philanthropist who is the chairman of Nalli Silks. Over the past month he has been felicitated by several organisations as he turned eighty. Kuppuswami was born on 9 November 1940 in Kanchipuram. He completed his schooling in Chennai and was a rank holder, but had to give up his dream of college education as he had to join the family’s textile shop. After the death of his grandfather, Nalli Chinnaswami Chetti, he inherited the family business trademarked Nalli Silks in 1958. Over the decades, he worked to develop the small 200 square feet silk store into a multistoried 30,000 square feet showroom in the heart of Chennai’s bustling T. Nagar. As the goodwill ambassador of Nalli Silks for the past 60 years, this soft-spoken man of amiable disposition, has expanded the textile business to establish thirty domestic and overseas branches and has also entered the jewellery sector.
Srinivasa Iyengar or Poochi Iyengar as he was better known, was one of the great music performers and composers of the era immediately after the trinity. It is hundred years since he passed away on 20 July 1919. Born on 16 August 1860 to Lakshmi and Ananthanarayana Iyengar in the estate of Ramnad (Ramanathapuram), he was sent to study at the local school where he formed a close friendship with a classmate Pandithurai Thevar who went on to become the Zamindar of Palavanatham. Thevar was a kinsman of the ruling Setupati of Ramnad, and through him, the latter got to know of the singing talents of Poochi Iyengar. The ruler immediately made arrangements for the young boy to be sent to Tiruvaiyaru to learn music from Patnam Subramania Iyer (1845-1902), the eminent composer and musician who through his own guru Manambuchavadi Venkatasubba Iyer, traced his lineage to Tyagaraja (1767-1847).
6 News & Notes
14 Birthday calendar
16 Yamini Krishnamurti
22 Ghatam S. Karthick
30 Instruments v The ghatam
32 Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti
38 Organisation v Mudhra celebrates its silver jubilee
42 A peep into the past v Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar
46 Analysis v Sree Tyagarajaya mangalam
48 Perspectives v Music - catalyst to mathematical ability
50 From the Editor
Front Cover: Yamini Krishnamurti (photo by Avinash Pasricha)
S. Karthick (photo by Akira Io)