D.K. Pattammal

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Generation Next

By KS Kalidas

N.C. Bharadwaj

(Reproduced from Sruti 342, March 2013)

Parents do not normally take three-year old children to music concerts, but Bharadwaj was an exception. He not only listened keenly to the concert but kept talam even if the kutcheri lasted a full three hours. And during the tani avartanam, he would try to match the strokes by drumming on his tiny knees, without fidgeting or running around the auditorium as kids of his age would do. Back home after the concert, he would pick up the nearest pot available to continue his brand of tani avartanam to his heart’s content. His parents were not trained in music but were keen listeners and on seeing their child’s propensity towards percussion, they enrolled him under mridanga vidwan Srivanchiyam Gopalan at the age of six. After the death of his guru in 2000, Bharadwaj, whose family had by now moved to Nanganallur, was placed under the tutelage of Nanganallur Sriram, a senior disciple of vidwan Karaikudi Mani. Bharadwaj continues to learn from Sriram. Intensive coaching lasted for about six years and, as early as 2004, Sriram, after observing the innate talent of the boy, asked him to participate in mridangam competitions held by various sabhas. Over the next two years, the boy won prizes in almost all the major sabhas in Chennai like the Indian Fine Arts Society, Music Academy, Mylapore Fine Arts Club and Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, to name a few.

Today at 20, Bharadwaj has decided to take up mridangam-playing as his profession – a timely and appropriate decision, going by the demands from sabhas and vidwans in Chennai and elsewhere for his participation in their concerts. He has a busy concert schedule which has already taken him to various cities in India, as well as Malaysia and Singapore. Among the senior artists he has accompanied are vidwans N. Ramani, T.V. Sankaranarayanan, Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi, Bombay Jayashri, Vijay Siva, Ranjani and Gayatri, S.P. Ramh, and Subhashini Parthasarathy. The number of up-and-coming artists he has played for is legion.

For his mridangam accompaniment, he has won awards in famous organisations like the Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha, Bharat Kalachar (Yuva Kala Bharathi), and Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha. His playing is characterised by precision of strokes giving rise to clarity, balance between the ‘valantalai’ and ‘toppi’ and melody (sunadam).

When Bharadwaj was but twelve, he won the first prize in the event Ragam Sangeetam conducted by Raj TV, and came to the notice of talent hunter ‘Abaswaram’ Ramjhi. Bharadwaj was extensively featured in ‘Issai Mazhalai’ concerts which brought him wide recognition and popularity. Since then, there has been no looking back for him.

He literally worships mridanga maestros Palani Subramania Pillai and Palghat Mani Iyer whose recordings he constantly listens to. His favourites in the present generation are vidwans Karaikudi Mani and Trichy Sankaran.

A very bright future awaits this young man.

(The author is a mridanga vidwan, connoisseur of classical music, and a keen follower of young talent)

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