December 17, 2011

Record oral history

Professor T. N. Krishnan is an internationally known Carnatic music violinist and a very senior vidwan. His fans are legion. I am one of them.
But there is another reason why I would not miss a meeting or a kutcheri where he is featured.
Prof. Krishnan is a charming raconteur. And he has lots of stories to share and anecdotes to give you.
On Thursday evening, the famed violinist who is in his 80s was decorated at the opening evening of the art festival of the 111-year-old Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha which has its roots in Triplicane but does not have a hall of its own.
At a function held at a community hall tucked away in a street that runs of the well known landmark of Jammi Buildings in Mylapore, Krishnan got into rewind mode.
He took us to the times in the 40s and 50s when Triplicane was the hub of the classical arts, of the days when he rented a little house in a lane off Sri Parthasarathy Temple, of the moods of the temple precincts.
Those days, Parthasarathy Swami Sabha's kutcheris were held at Hindu High School, said Krishnan.
But since the hall was on the top floor all the vidwans had to make an effort to climb up. But greats like Ariyakudi and Semmangudi would all be there half an hour before the concert began which was always at 4.30 p.m.
"We would play for close to four hours", said Krishnan.
We at Kutcheribuzz have begun recording stories that vidwans like Prof. Krishnan share with the audience.
We intend to post these audio clips on the web site ( as we cover the famed December Season of music and dance this year.
Oral histories of the art and the artistes are aplenty and they are shared at many events which allow for talks and exchanges.
Much of it is not documented and the loss is great.
Your parents, grandparents and elders also have stories to share - on art, or on a neighbourhood. Or on lives and people.
Perhaps you may want to record them now.

1 comment:

G G Raj said...

Your excellent article brought back nostalgic memories of those glorious days.
Between 1953 and 1956, I was residing at Triplicane and I was a member of the Parthasarathy swamy Sabha. It was a concert of the great Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar. I don't remember the name of the violinist; the mridangam accompaniment was by the legendary Palghat Mani Iyer.
After a brief but scintillating alapana of the Raga Kamboji, Ariyakkudi took up Dikshitar's masterpiece, "Sri Subrahmanyaya Namaste". In the anupallavi "Vasavadi Sakaladeva Vanditaya", he embarked on an elaborate Niraval and Mani Iyer stopped playing! When after exploring the entire gamut of Kamboji, Ariyakkudi returned to the base and sang "Vasavadi", Mani Iyer put his fingers on the Mridangam; and lo and behold, the audience could distinctly hear the word "Vasavadi" emanating from the instrument! There was spontaneous applause all round. Ariyakkudi stopped singing, held the mike in his hand and pointing towards Mani Iyer remarked with a smile on his lips, "He just does not play the mridangam; HE MAKES IT SING"!