Saturday, September 13, 2008

When Vidwan Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan played for me…

The passing away of Sri Kunnakudi Vaidynathan was a sad piece of news for me. This great Violin Vidwan was the most popular classical maestro in the world of Carnatic Music. All the obituaries have discussed the multifarious talents of this wonderful vidwan. The Thyagaraja Aradhana at Tiruvaiyyaru was an especially memorable yearly event, where Sri Kunnakudi Vaidynathan would lead the young and old and the greats and students in rendering the Pancharatna Kritis of Tyagaraja. I particularly liked his devotional renderings and thematic compositions, especially his album called Colours, where he played with Zakir Hussain, Sivamani and Dilip (now known to the entire world as A R Rahman). He rendered thematic pieces with Carnatic ragas like maayamalavagoula, shanmughapriya, hindolam, and bandhuvarali. This album came out sometime in the early nineties and was presented to me by my senior at the then CIEFL, Anita Devasia, whom some of us affectionately called Chechi (elder sister). This is an album I deeply cherish for its lovely music.

I also had a personal moment with Sri Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan which I would like to share with all of you. This happened long ago, when I was 6-7 years old…I don’t remember the year…my father was posted in Tiruvananthapuram and he was a member of the Swati Tirunal Sangeetha Sabha…a number of classical music concerts would be held by this organisation every year and my parents would attend most of them…so, I too attended some concerts with them, though I had no idea what was going on…Sri Kunnakudi Vaidynathan was playing his violin in one such concert and my parents had taken me along…it must have been a particularly popular concert, given the stature and popularity of Sri Kunnakudi Vaidynathan and all seats were full and since I was not a member as such, a small chair was produced and it was placed in the central passage (aisle?) for me to sit…I was sitting straight in front of Sri Kunnakudi Vaidynathan’s line of vision…the concert was in full flow and suddenly Vaidynathanji stopped for a second and played the opening line of a popular tamil film song thoongade thambi thoongade (don’t sleep, brother, don’t sleep)…the audience was surprised and didn’t know what to make of it…he kept at it for some more time…then suddenly my parents must have realised what had happened and looked at me in my small chair…I was fast asleep…they were totally embarrassed and hurriedly woke me up… Vaidynathanji had spotted me sleeping and in a light hearted way played this line… he smiled and then continued the raga from where he had left it…

My father keeps reminding me of this whenever Vaidynathanji’s topic comes up when we are generally talking of music…

I can proudly claim that Sri Kunnakudi Vaidynathan played a line especially for me…

Thank you Vaidynathanji for making such glorious music…May your soul rest in music…

Jayasrinivasa Rao

No comments: