Introduction and Announcements

New Original ! 
Aankhon ko - आँखों को

Older Compositions : Haule SeUdalin Thiriyaale , Choolena
Available in iTunes and Amazon !!

Learn Indian Classical Dance in Riyadh   !!

Friday, February 10, 2023

Rendezvous with a legend - Shrimati Vani Jairam - 2

The Dinner - Orignally written on 20 Jun 2014

We arrived at the restaurant ( Kamadhenu ) and VJ asked me to join her at the dinner table but I was already full with both food and adrenaline.  However, her insistence won and I agreed to have a morsel to keep the conversation going.  However, quickly realizing that there were many others who were interested in talking to her I excused myself and went around the table to greet the rest of the team which included Sathyaprakash and Madhumita - two talented youngsters.  Sathya was very calm, measured in conversation, but polite and came across as easily approachable gentlemanly artist.  There were some discussions about Satyaprakash's interests in gazals and his eagerness to learn hindi and urdu.   After the dinner, we were off to the hotel.

On the way, I asked VJ:

MS:  "Amma..I am a composer and there are a few tamil compositions which have been done over these years with your voice in mind in hindustani/ gazal style.  If your time and interest permit, I would like to have a discussion with you about them"

VJ : "Surely.  The morning of the day after the show (Sunday), I will be free and you are most welcome to the hotel to discuss them.  I will be glad to hear them."

I could not have asked for more, although I was not very sure this meeting would happen since celebrities like her were always sought after for multiple reasons by many people.  But then came another question:

VJ : "BTW, is there any place we can go near by on Sunday ?"

MS:  "There is a Westfield  mall near to your hotel.  Would you like to go to the mall on Sunday morning? Please remember that the mall opens only at 11 AM and you have to start towards the airport around 5 pm."

VJ : "Malls all over the world are the same.  I am not particularly interested in them.  Is there anything else that you could suggest ?"

MS:  "Well..there are many attractions in and around Sydney since this is a huge city.  If you are happy to go along with me and my wife, I am more than glad to take you around."

VJ :  "Plese understand that I do not intend to inconvenience you.  I could ask the organizers as well.  What I am looking forward is just a drive through some nice scenic area.  However if you are free and promise me that it ain't a burden on your schedule only then, I will agree"

MS:  "It certainly is not a burden, but a pleasure.  You may please confirm after you discuss with the organizers."


The concert

The concert was simply wonderful.  Some songs were rendered at a reduced pace but at the original scale !  Please remember that she is 70 ("I am pushing 70 and people say it is hard to believe" - True indeed )  and at that age even to hold a sustained note without vacillating is so very difficult.
But her range and adherence to shruti was perfect throughout the concert.  Among her co-singers Satyaprakash excelled and matched her for note-by-note in the rare song of Vijayabaskar - "maamadurai naatinil vaigaik karai kaatrinil".  His own rendition of "paattum naane" was superlative with his ornamentations (Sangathis) cascading naturally out of his soft but sonorous voice.  VJ vividly recalled that she has sung innumerable kannada numbers for Vijayabaskar who she termed - 'a gentleman composer' who was always soft in his choice of words, articulation and tunes.  Harish Raghavendra was good in his originals and understandably VJ's ornamentation in her original duet songs (like "ilakkaNam maarudho") stood out.

She recounted how her entry to the film music has been one of "all good omens".  She entered the film music as a 'guddi' (little girl) - the hindi film, then returned to tamilnadu through "Veetukku Vandha Marumagal" (daughter-in-law who had come home) and then her break happened in 'dheerga sumangali' ( a lady blessed with a long blissful marriage ) through the song "malligai en".  And among the songs, while she sang most of the popular numbers including "ezu swarangaLukuL" the surprise element was her inclusion of "yaar adhu sollaamal" instead of "meghamE mEghame" which found a shrunken place in her medley.

At the end she rounded it off with a beautiful medley of many songs with just the shruti (drone) in the background.  I was hoping somebody would play the piano / keyboard - but nope - just the shruti.  Later when I asked if she preferred it that way, she replied : "the keyboardists are in their early twenties and do not know many of my songs.  So, I thought this was a better arrangement".  I woudl ideally have liked them to play the chords at least.

The concert was well attended by close to 800 people.  People were really appreciative of her singing and cheered her when familiar songs hit the stage.Throughout the concert she spoke in chaste tamil.  I met her backstage during the interval and asked her if she planned ot sing any malayalam song on stage and reminded her of "Karuna cheyvaan".  She immediately said "Swami's composition" and to my surprise she immediately sang it backstage ! Once she finished she said : "There is no malayalam number in the original list of stage-songs, but now that is done too" with an affectionate smile.

    karuna cheyvaan (malayalam) :

She also presented signed copies of her "tamil-poem" collection to me and Dr. Gowribalan on her own volition.  We were really surprised by her gesture, since we were probably the only ones, or may be among the handful of people, who were accorded that gesture !

(Final part describing our musical interaction will follow soon..)

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Rendezvous with a legend - Shrimati Vani Jairam -1

The arrival in Sydney (Originally written on 17 Jun 2014)

 Murali Sankar (MS) : ”அம்மா : நீங்கள் வர மிகவும் தாமதாகிவிட்டதால், நானும் கெளரிபாலன் அவர்களும் உங்கள் பாடல்களைப் பற்றி விமான நிலையத்திலேயே பேசும்படி ஆகி விட்டது.  எங்களின் அயர்ச்சி வேலை செய்ய ஆரம்பித்துவிட்டது.  ஆனால் எல்லா சோதனைகளும் முடிந்து நீங்கள் வெளியே வரும்போது எங்களுக்கு மிக்க மலர்ச்சி ! மகிழ்ச்சி ! அப்போது உங்களின் பாடலான ”விழியோ உறங்கவில்லை” தான் ஞாபகத்திற்கு வந்தது !”

("Amma : The long delay in the flight's arrival, gave me and Dr. Gowibalan a chance to discuss your songs and more as we waited for you at the airport.  Although it was a long and weary day, seeing you emerge out of immigration, we lost our tireness and I got reminded me of your number 'Vizhiyo uRangavillai’ (means eyes could not sleep) that you have sung in one of the movies.")

Vani: ”ஓ ! அதுவா ! அது ரொம்ப நல்ல பாட்டாச்சே !  MSV சார் போட்ட பாட்டு” (பாடிக்காட்டுகிறார்)

("Oh ! that is a really nice song." Breaks into singing at the airport we wait on the instrumentalists who were yet to clear their instruments at quarantine and join us)

It was indeed amazing how a legendary artist sings spontaneously without any inhibition regardless of the venue at the slightest of impetus.  This is a lesson to those who, when asked to sing, almost always offer a standard excuse of a "bad / sore throat" for sub-par renditions since they are uncomfortable with the truth of their limited-talents being exposed.

Vizhiyo urangavillai :

And so began a conversation late in the night, in the car headed towards the restaurant / hotel which was an hour away from the airport.  Thanks to Dr. Gowribalan (GB) who offered to drive us all, I got chatty with Mrs. Vani Jayaram (VJ) as we hit the road.

MS: "Amma :  First I would like to ask if you remember Mr. Saravanan Natarajan who met you quite a while back ?"

VJ : "Saravanan From Dubai ?  Yes of course.  He was the one who revealed to me how much research has gone into my songs and I was really surprised ! Is he still in Dubai ? I remember him moving to Dubai from some other country.  Was it Canada ? I never knew that I had a fan-club who remembered almost each and every aspect of some of my long-last songs.  Neel - is another aficionado of mine who I had interacted with.  I sang close to 60 songs for at Chennai"


MS: "Yes.  Saravanan works in Dubai.  But I am not sure where he immigrated from from.  And regarding Neel - He is probably your greatest fan ever.  I remember the interview he did quite a while back ( ).  The interview was done when tamil film music was discussed to shreds in a website called  Later Saravanan, Balaji and I teamed up to produce a web-site  - to collect all rare songs of TFM.  In that we had quite a few numbers of yours thanks to various sources. Between Balaji, Saravanan and I we had different interests in music.  Balaji was interested in a lot of old songs and also helped with the running of the portal.  Saravanan was a walking encyclopaedia of information on songs and films and he wrote very detailed articles on long-lost songs, films and lesser known artists.  I, on the other hand was more interested in the musical aspects"

VJ :  "Is the web-site still up and running ?  Are you guys still contributing"

MS : "I very much think it is up.  But honestly, all the three of us have moved on in our lives.  I have moved into composing and performing primarily.  Saravanan is probably looking to collect all his articles and publish as a book"

VJ :  "You should not lose that information because it would be really a reference for the generations to come"

MS : " We hope to not lose it either"

Now that I had established a comfortable platform to chat (thanks to Saravanan ! ), slowly the conversation started veering towards music.

MS : " terms of songs which have a hindustani style of rendition, I wonder if anybody has equaled your contribution except for say thEdum kaNpaarvai.  But I believe there are many songs of yours which have got much less recognition than they are really due.  "mEghame meghame" is a fantastic song, but my biggest favorite of your songs is "yaar adhu sollamal".  And I believe it did not achieve the fame it should have got"

thEdum kaNpaarvai :
mEghame meghame :
yaar adhu sollaamal :

VJ : "Yaar adhu is a very beautiful song (she sang this in the concert as well).  But mEghamE was the first song that Vairamuthu wrote for me. Both the songs are special"

MS:  "Most of my introduction to ragas were through film songs.  Whenever I hear ranjani family of ragas, only your face flashes in mind.  The reason is simply that the first ranjani I ever heard was when my entire family including 80+year old grandpa was taken to watch Mrudanga chakravarti and your "sugamaana raagangaLE" which was a ragamalika and had the phrase "ranjaniyai azaiththen" which introduced me to it.  Of course the ranjani portion of"Ezhu swarangaLukkuL" is another.  And then I heard "naadhamenum kOvilile" ( ) which gave me a reference to sriranjani.   Your earlier renditions for the movie Shankarabharanam like "Brochevarevarura" were heard at such a young age that I could not associate them with any raga at that time, but when I grew up to decipher them, those ragams were also automatically associated with an image of your face."

sugamaana raagangaLE :
naadhamenum kOvilile :

MS : "Another very difficult song that you have sung which involved multiple styles, high pitched singing and some really tough sangathis is "kalaimagaL kaiveeNai muzangudhamma".  This song too, in my humble opinion, shoudl have received more exposure than it received."

kalaimagaL kaiveeNai :

VJ : (acknowledging with a smile) :"Many compositions of M.S. Viswanathan, kunnakkudi Vaidyanathan and K.V. Mahadevan were tough.  But I am fortunate to have been offered those and to have been able to sing them to the extent that you could remember them today".

MS: "I would probably need to get Alzheimer's to forget them.  Those songs have gone into my DNA now"

In my entire interaction over 3 days, three qualities of VJ stood out - the poise, confidence and practical humility.  There was absolutely no air of celebrity, but her assuredness in her talent was refreshing and inspiring and sweetness of her personality with an eagerness to erupt into some beautiful songs at any juncture made the interaction asolutely cherish-worthy.  More on this and on her wonderful singing of a bengali song (captured in video), her inputs to my composing, singing and and her works in other languages / genres..soon...

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Nandakumar Nagarajan


I entered CECRI in 1994. Till then I had no clue about any music composer. I just used to hear many songs (hindi / tamil / malayalam) and occasionally sang them without really putting much thought into who composed them or what were the different aspects of a song.

But since I could sing, my ragging was predominantly musical. When I entered the CECRI hostel Iw as told that three names were synonymous with music : Bvs Maruthi (final year), Vidhyashankar Kannan (final year) and Nanda (third year).

Maruthi was largely into classical music (averred by his habit of eternal betel chewing) with an occasional indulgence in light music. My classmate Deepa Srinivasan was a classical singer par excellence and together they were instrumental in keeping the carnatic segment alive in CECRI which featured unnikrishnan and later Kadri gopalnath concerts.

The "music room" of cecri was a room with water constantly trickling down the walls on to the floor from an embedded but cracked pipeline giving an eerie damp smell. Located on the first floor and at a dark corner overlooking the casuarina plantation it appeared to invite many venomous visitors (snakes/ scorpions) which were no rare sights in CECRI.

Unlike Maruthi, Buchi (Vidhyashankar Kannan) and Nanda were fully into light music. With a yamaha keyboard which was only a tad better than a kid's, a battered kettle drum and a worn out maracas, Nanda was the lead singer and Buchi was the keyboard player of the "music troupe".

Nanda was an embodiment of inspiration. A soft-spoken fellow with a gentlemanly singing voice and an introverted romantic, he struck a chord with me instantly. He and Buchi would meet many times in a "music room" and tirelessly practice the songs of their interest (including "Zoom zoom zoom baba"). He made me join the "troupe" and later along with others set the scene for some modest "concerts" at CECRI.

Nanda was the one (without him realizing) who taught me the biggest fundamental of harmony: Three notes make a chord.

He introduced me to :
1. The augmented chorded in the pallavi of "en iniya pon nilave"
2. The surreal chord progression in the pallavi of "kodai kaala kaatre"
3. The major, minor and suspended chords by just "playing" them as he would hum a song along

In many ways Nanda was my first guru in light music. While he himself was a decent player of chords, he preferred to sing. He left CECRI in 1996 and we discovered each other only day before yesterday - after 25 years. And coincidentally we both are married to bengalis 🙂

And today you are hearing his wonderful tribute to SPB : the name which we both cherish as the light of our musical souls.