S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Saturday, 29 June 2019


We know of several rulers who patronised the fine arts and classical music, but there are very few who were famous composers themselves. Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar, erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore, was a man of letters, a musician adept in music of the East and the West, a patron of the arts, and a well known composer whose kritis are rendered in Carnatic concerts across the globe. In this issue, Sruti gives pride of place to this versatile Maharaja whose centenary falls on 18 July 2019. We present recollections by eminent personalities like Dr. V. Raghavan and Sudharani Raghupathy who had personally interacted with Wodeyar, as also articles analysing the life, music and contributions of the composer-king.

You will find an interesting variety as you browse  through this July issue. We offer you a brief but interesting peek into the lessons learnt by mridangist Tanjavur Ramadas from his guru Palghat Mani Iyer, a perspective on mangalam as a musical composition, incisive comments on the dance scene by veteran critic V.A.K. Ranga Rao, and a tour through the Mahagami campus planned in an idyllic setting for art and artists to grow.

The 10th of June 2019 was a sad day for Indian theatre and cinema with the passing away of Girish Karnad and Crazy Mohan on the same day in Bengaluru and Chennai respectively. Both were versatile personalities who have left their mark in both fields.

Girish Karnad was a renowned playwright, actor, director, translator, and cultural interventionist. He was among India’s foremost dramatists, with several published plays including Yayati, Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Naga-Mandala and Taledanda. He explored a variety of themes, drawing from Indian mythology and history, to create a body of work with strong contemporary resonances. His work has been translated from Kannada into a number of Indian languages and have been presented on stage by eminent directors. He can be counted among the giants who created and popularised modern theatre in India. Simultaneously, Girish Karnad worked in Indian cinema, and won accolades as an actor, director and scriptwriter. He was at the helm of institutions in his chosen fields and was a much feted man. His passing away is a huge loss to the fields of theatre, cinema and literature.

Crazy Mohan was a popular Tamil actor, comedian, screenwriter and playwright. The first full-length play he wrote was Crazy Thieves in Paalavakkam, which was a run-away success and he became famous as “Crazy” Mohan. He launched his own drama troupe called Crazy Creations in 1979 which has created over 30 plays with original scripts and crossed over 6500 shows in India and abroad. He also wrote about 100 short stories. His passing away has robbed Tamil theatre and cinema of a fund of good humour.

This summer has seen the launch of a noteworthy initiative called ‘Navapallava’ in the field of dance. A brainchild of Ashok Jain (of SPIC MACAY fame), it is a movement against the exploitative “pay and perform” syndrome plaguing Indian classical dance. The aim is to provide a dignified platform for good classical dancers aged 25 to 40 years to showcase their talent, under the patronage of senior dancer-gurus in different cities. Many senior artists across India like Uma Dogra, Sharmila Biswas, Aruna Mohanty, Anita Sharma, Gayatri Subramaniam, Vaibhav Arekar and Sailaja have joined the initiative to host programmes by young talented dancers. We wish it luck and hope Navapallava will be able to sustain itself and become a strong movement against corrupt practices in the field of dance. Of course it goes without saying that dancers themselves must stop paying to perform.

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