Wednesday, 31 March 2021


The month of Chaitra or Chittirai is a joyous one as it ushers in the new year in different parts of India – based on their regional calendars. The beginning of Chaitra is a time to celebrate Ugadi, Gudi Padwa, Cheti Chand and Navreh. Mid- April rings in the new with Baisakhi, Tamil Putthaandu, Bohag Bihu, Pohela Baisakh and Vishu. In the cultural calendar too there is cause to celebrate as sabhas have opened their small halls and big auditoria to host live programmes. After several months of trepidation and hibernation, rasikas are making bold to venture out to attend cultural programmes. There is now a new addition to their aharya – colourful, matching masks of course. Nobody shakes hands now, no bear hugs; the elegant, traditional Namaste is in vogue!

A major live programme was ABHAI’s Annual Day, organised successfully at the Sathguru Gnanananda Hall in Chennai, while strictly following the Covid protocol  Veteran dance exponent, guru and arts administrator Prof. A. Janardhanan, was conferred the Natya Kalanidhi on the occasion. Senior violin accompanist for dance M.S. Kannan, as well as Bharatanatyam exponents and teachers Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala and G. Narendra were also honoured with titles by the Association of Bharatanatyam Artistes of India. The award ceremony was followed by presentation of several items of the Bharatanatyam repertoire by ABHAI members. Prof. Janardhanan is April-born – take a look at the Sruti birthday calendar!

The Kalaimamani awards announced by the Tamil Nadu government were also presented at a well conducted event. Bharatanatyam artists Ambika Kameshwar and Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala received the Puratchi Thalaivi Dr. J. Jayalalithaa Special Kalaimamani Awards for 2019 and 2020. Veteran vocalists Vani Jayaram and S. Rajeswari are the recipients of the all-India award – the M.S. Subbulakshmi Award (Music) for 2019 and 2020 respectively. Senior Bharatanatyam exponents Alarmel Valli and Chandra Dhandayudhapani were conferred the all-India Balasaraswathi Award (Dance) for 2019.

A total of 59 personalities have received the Kalaimamani Award for 2019 and another 65 for 2020 this year, but the number of classical performing artists thus honoured is very less compared to those in the cine field. Hope this ratio will change for the better in the coming years. Sruti congratulates all the awardees.

The cover story in the April issue is a centenary tribute to the tavil maestro Valangaiman Shanmugasundaram Pillai – whose birth and death anniversaries both fall in April. We also have a dynamic younger percussionist – mridanga vidwan J. Vaidhyanathan sharing the space with the centenarian. Music runs in his blood – his famous aunt D.K. Pattammal, equally famous father D.K. Jayaraman and Vaidhyanathan are all recipients of the prestigious Central Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

We are privileged to publish a centenary tribute to the Bhavani duo of B.V. Raman and B.V. Lakshmanan penned by eminent dancer-scholar Padma Subrahmanyam – she pays tribute to her music guru. There is an interesting analysis of nritya karanas by eminent natyacharya V.P. Dhananjayan. These should also kindle the interest of students of music and dance.

We are happy to include the Sruti Box section in this issue. The letter writing habit seems to be on the wane as youngsters are busy with Likes, emoticons and short comments on social media. The reading and writing habit has, however, improved during the lockdown period, and we hope it will take a turn for the better in future. So, Happy reading – get a copy of Sruti, either digital or in print! And don’t forget to send us your feedback letter for the Sruti Box!


Tuesday, 2 March 2021


In Tiruvaiyaru, the land of the five rivers, rests Tyagaraja. The panchanada kshetra… on the bank of the river Cauvery where blows the incomparable zephyr... was certainly a source of inspiration for the prolific vaggeyakara. As the Cauvery flows sometimes gently, sometimes in spate, so too the bard-saint’s emotions ebb and flow in his innumerable compositions. None can deny the sweeping impact of the music trinity in Carnatic music, and Tyagaraja’s output of compositions is the highest among the three. His fame had spread far and wide even when he was alive. It is said that Tyagaraja’s kritis are pen-portraits of the Tanjavur region in later years of Maratha rule. He was also fond of composing in rare and unusual ragas.

Tiruvaiyaru has become a place of pilgrimage for Carnatic musicians as they converge to pay their musical homage to the great vaggeyakara at the Tyagaraja aradhana held every year on Bahula Panchami day. The festival, usually held on a grand scale, was also affected by the Covid 19 pandemic; it was restricted to a two-day event this year. As a result, the glamour and the razzmatazz which had crept into it over the years, was missing this time. Star Carnatic musician, Sudha Ragunathan, has been offering her musical tribute at the samadhi for several decades now  In this issue, she shares with us the very special experience that she had this year at Tiruvaiyaru.

Season 2020 has received wide coverage in this issue. Last month, an office bearer of the Madras Music Academy shared the experience of organising the Academy’s online season. There can be no season without artists, organizations and rasikas, but the success of Season 2020 hinged largely on the ‘tech team’ who worked round the clock to present an enjoyable experience. Kudos to them! This time, we present a peek into the effort behind the month-long Yours Truly Margazhi festival organised by the Federation of City Sabhas. The virtual season has by and large been welcomed by rasikas as it gave them the freedom to watch any number of kutcheris from the comfort of their homes, any time and any number of times! It has also been a boon for writers and critics, as they could listen to the concerts at leisure, and play them any number of times to get their facts right before submitting their reviews. At this juncture, Sruti’s Chennai correspondent C. Ramakrishnan deserves special mention as he has diligently listened to a range of artists presented by different organisations and shared his comments about them.

Apart from the regular News & Notes, we bring to you the occasional book review and a talent showcase of four young Hindustani musicians with great potential. Our Tiruvananthapuram correspondent pays tribute to Sruti’s roving critic Sunil Kothari who passed away recently. Sunilji, as we called him, was associated with Sruti almos  since its inception. He was fond of travelling and would file his reports from different parts of the world. “Visibility” was his watchword and he loved to be in the midst of artists and events. The Covid pandemic must have been a setback for the gregarious individual and he probably decided to bid goodbye to a world where personal interactions and live events had almost come to a standstill. 26 February 2021 was an important date in the Carnatic music calendar as it was the birth centenary of the\ renowned twins of Carnatic music – B.V. Raman and B.V. Lakshmanan, also known as the Bhavani duo. Sruti has published articles about them in 2005.