Song of Surrender

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A valued friend

By Venkatesan Srikanth

I came to know Manna through a banker friend in whose branch Manna had his bank account. I met him at the India International Centre (IIC) during a Carnatic music concert. He often sent me good and encouraging comments about my Carnatic music concert reviews through our banker friend. Our friendship slowly but steadily grew and I had the pleasure of listening to a number of music concerts in Delhi seated next to him. Particularly, he would never miss the special nagaswaram concerts organised at the Malai Mandir in Delhi during the Skanda Shashti festival. He sat through for the entire concert and appreciated the typical phrases played on the nagaswaram, exclaiming “Ithu nagaswara pidi,” in delight.

Manna enjoyed listening to the veena and arranged veena concerts at IIC. Once an artist, while playing kalpanaswara for the main song, switched to ragamalika swara-s, altering the original pallavi in different raga-s to suit the ragamalika swara-s. In my review I pointed out that had it been a ragam-tanam-pallavi the artist could do that as it was her own creation, but as she was playing a Tyagaraja kriti, she should not have taken the liberty to change the pallavi. Manna appreciated me for pointing this out. On yet another occasion, Manna complimented me for the way I had described in one of my reviews how a Chennai based vocalist had connected to the cosmopolitan audience at IIC even while singing traditional raga-s like Yadukulakambhoji and Varali.

I last met Manna at the Andhra Bhavan, just a day before he passed away, during a music concert organised by the Shanmukhananda Sangeeta Sabha. On the next two days there were music concerts by popular Chennai based artists at IIC to which Manna invited me. I could not, however, attend these concerts. A day later, without knowing that dear Manna was no more, I called to apologise, but since his mobile phone was switched off, I thought he was taking rest. I sent him an SMS asking him to call whenever he was free. There was no reply, later I came to know of his passing away.

I valued Manna’s friendship and will continue to cherish those good moments of sitting next to him and enjoying concerts at IIC, Malai Mandir, Andhra Bhavan and other auditoriums in Delhi.

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