This year, November is the month to celebrate Deepavali – the festival of lights and fireworks, denoting prosperity, peace, and the victory of good over evil. Hopefully, success in finding a vaccine will gradually take the sting out of the Covid-19 pandemic. People from all walks of life are slowly overcoming their fear and emerging out to resume their regular activities. The arts fraternity too is keenly awaiting “better days”. Till then of course, performing artists, organisers and rasikas have learnt to make the best of “the new normal” and online activities tapping the topical are in full swing. Sruti wishes all its readers a “happy and safe” Deepavali.
We present a feature on veteran artist P.C. Ramakrishna who turns 75 this November and has spent over six fruitful decades in theatre as actor, director and also in the ‘voice’ industry. Our focus is also on young achievers: the Akkarai Sisters—Subhalakshmi (born in November) and Sornalatha, as well as Abhishek Raghuram—who have already become stars on the strength of their musical virtuosity an remarkable talent. Though they were child prodigies, their ‘passion and perseverance’ have been the key to success for every one of them.
Several artists have found time during the lockdown to spend more time with their family and revive artistic memories, to explore and introspect on their music and create afresh. In this issue, Bombay Jayashri shares with us how the pandemic has enabled her to relook and relish the music.
It is over 60 years since the singing ‘super-star’ actor M.K. Tyagaraja Bhagavatar passed away in November 1959. We offer our readers an interesting peep into the past in the form of insightful observations on MKT’s music in films – the ragas, tunes, voice and sruti—by none other than musicologist N. Ramanathan.
We do have our regular roundup of online activities cutting across genres in the News and Notes section. S. Rajam’s depiction of the saptaswara devata ‘Madhyama’ brings us to the middle of the series. Two articles come to their conclusion in this issue. One of them is Rasa in ancient texts which is a comparative analysis of rasa as mentioned in Natya Sastra, Tolkappiam and Koothanool. The other is A triad of Siva temples along the Akhanda Cauvery, wherein we journey to Tiruingoimalai also known as Maragatachalam. Watch out for more such features in the coming months.
In the past few months we have seen several artists being snatched away from our midst by the cruel hands of Death (some have succumbed to Covid). We have also paid tribute to some of them in recent issues. But such news keeps trickling in. The enterprising M. Balasubramoniam, Director of the South Zone Cultural Centre (SZCC) Tanjavur, who was also a mridangist, passed away on 6 September in Tanjavur. More recently, it was shocking to hear about the demise of three stalwarts in quick succession—Sobha Naidu, renowned Kuchipudi dancer and choreographer in Hyderabad; the doyen of Bhagavata Mela S. Natarajan in Melattur, Tanjavur; and the much sought after famous guru and Carnatic musician, octogenarian P.S. Narayanaswamy in Chennai. Sruti has\ written extensively about them and their art in earlier issues. We extend our heartfelt condolences to their family members and to their disciples. Their passing away is a great loss to the field of performing arts.