Friday, 30 April 2021


Everything seems to have come full circle once again.  This time, last year so many of us were confused, cautiously trying to cope with the situation of lockdown, retrenchment, work-from-home,  living in  fear of the deadly virus, and rarely venturing out from home. Live cultural programmes, teaching-learning classes, had grinded to a halt throwing things out of gear for members of the arts fraternity; there was so much uncertainty all around. It was a totally new experience for all.

Things eased a bit and since the summer of 2020, the digital space started buzzing with online cultural activity as artists and social media commentators explored every avenue to give vent to their creativity.  The online music and dance season was a success and a morale booster for  many.  The scenario improved further in the new year 2021, and in January-February it was heartening to see sabhas opening their halls to live performances with Covid protocols in place.  The launch of the Covid vaccination drive ushered in hope that things would look up in the coming months. But the euphoria was shortlived.

Since March-April the second Corona wave has been more virulent.  The situation everywhere has turned grim with vaccines, life-saving  medicines and oxygen in short supply and Covid positive cases and deaths shooting up. As a consequence, curfew, lockdown and restrictions on gatherings and cultural activities have been clamped down once again. No respite, we are back to square one! Often we get news of deaths and bereavement in the artistic fraternity. Sruti extends it’s heartfelt condolences to the affected families.

It has become a time for introspection,   to draw on our inner reserves for strength  and sustenance.  A time to contemplate on a Higher Being for Hope; and what better subject than to dwell on Siva-Nataraja whose eternal, cosmic Dance is the embodiment of the activities of srishti, sthiti, samhara, tirodhana and anugraha. It is probably time for Siva-Neelakantha to once again come to the rescue of humanity and cleanse the poison pervading the environment. The cover story in the May issue of Sruti is devoted to Siva-Nataraja. We are indeed privileged to bring to our readers very insightful articles written by eminent personalities Padma Subrahmanyam and Sudha Seshayyan. And we hope to offer our readers some more in the coming issues.

In the News & Notes section too, we have reports on the natyanjalis held during  Sivaratri. We also have write-ups about Tyagaraja aradhana –  our way of  paying homage to the vaggeyakara whose jayanti is usually celebrated in May. The Iyer Brothers, renowned vainikas, have penned a sincere and moving tribute to their guru the late Pichumani Iyer whose centenary celebrations conclude in May. The birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore – famous for his Gitanjali, Rabindra Sangeet and Rabindra Nritya – is also celebrated in May. We bring to you a report on an interesting seminar (held in 2020) on Rabindra Nritya  which is now about 100 years old.

Our correspondent K.K. Gopalakrishnan has penned an obituary tribute to the veteran Kathakali doyen Chemmencherry Kunhiraman Nair who passed away recently at the ripe old age of 104. I got an opportunity to watch the centenarian— with an endearing smile and twinkling eyes—perform the navarasa at a felicitation function organised at BIFAC in Chennai a few years ago. He was amazing even at that age.

Even as we go to print we are shocked to hear about the sad demise of the famous Hindustani vocalist Rajan Mishra who succumbed to Covid. In this grim situation, we can do our bit by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, sanitising and remaining safe at home as much as possible. Let’s listen to music, watch dance – online of course! And read a lot too!


Wednesday, 7 April 2021


Immersed in his rhythm                                                                                   Lakshmi Anand

Senior mridangist J. Vaidhyanathan believes his commitment to accompaniment begins right from arriving well on time for the concert. “A concert is like a yagna, a lot of effort—we should not cause any consternation to either the organiser or the artists—rather, we should ensure that we do whatever we can to keep them calm, thus ensuring the best output from the artists. Also, regardless of who the artist is or his/her seniority levels, everyone should be treated on an equal footing on stage,” says Vaidhyanathan.

The youngest of three children, Vaidhyanathan was born to Sangita Kalanidhi D.K. Jayaraman and his wife J. Jayalakshmi on 22 April 1965 in Damal, near Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu. The family moved to Chennai a few years after his birth. His aunt Sangita Kalanidhi D.K. Pattammal, a colossus in Carnatic music, was already in Chennai. Music, thus, was the most  natural foray for Vaidhyanathan.

His elder brother Srivatsan did not pursue music but is a knowledgeable rasika. Sister C. Sukanya is a vocalist who accompanied her father regularly and performs and continues to teach. Wife Poorna, who has a doctorate in Music, is working as a violin lecturer since 2005 at S.V. College of Music and Dance run by TTD in Tirupati. Like Vaidhyanathan’s mother, Poorna too has been a quiet pillar of support in his musical career. “She is very meticulous, especially in organising my things when I have to travel. I do not have to worry about anything and can concentrate on my mridangam playing. We also discuss a lot about music. She is an excellent teacher who has trained beginners in music to rise to the level of gold medallists,” says JV as he is popularly known.

Vaidhi, Vijay Siva, Akhila Siva and Priya in concert

As Jayaraman taught his students, he noticed the toddler Vaidhi constantly tapping to perfect tala with his fingers. Noticing the child’s affinity for rhythm, Jayaraman decided to start him on mridangam. Little Vaidhi was initiated into ‘ta dhi tom nam’ by the stalwart Sangita Kalanidhi Palghat Mani Iyer. Given his prolific travel schedules, Mani Iyer suggested to Jayaraman that the child continue to learn from his senior disciple Palghat Kunjumani. Vaidhi also learned from Srinivasan (another disciple of Palghat Mani Iyer), Dindigul Ramamurthy and Tanjavur Ramadas. While learning from Ramamurthy and Ramadas, Vaidhyanathan won the junior scholarship from the Government of India. In 1985, when it was time to apply for the senior scholarship, he enrolled with mridangam stalwart Sangita Kalanidhi T.K. Murthy, who was an A-Top grade artist.

To read full story

Saturday, 3 April 2021

ABHAI honours eminent artists

By Samudri

The 32nd annual day of the Association of Bhartanatyam Artistes of India (ABHAI), conducted on 20 March this year, was a well-attended, grand event, organised live at the Sathguru Gnanananda Hall in Chennai.

The event began on an auspicious note with a prayer by ABHAI member Ananthashree which was followed by the lighting of the kuthuvilakku by the chief guests V.P. Dhananjayan and Lakshmi Viswanathan, along with the awardees and the president of ABHAI, Roja Kannan who then delivered the welcome address. The  activities undertaken during 2019-2020 were elaborated upon in the annual report presented by the secretary Binesh Mahadevan. In keeping with one of its objectives to recognize excellence in the field, the ABHAI awards were conferred by the chief guests of the evening -- natyacharya V.P. Dhananjayan, and veteran  Bharatanatyam exponent and writer Lakshmi Viswanathan, both founding members and former office bearers of ABHAI.

The prestigious  Natya Kalanidhi award was conferred on veteran Bharatanatyam and Kathakali exponent, guru, arts administrator and Kalakshetra alumnus Prof. A.  Janardhanan. Senior violinist M.S. Kannan received the Gandharva Nipuna title. Well known Bharatanatyam dancer, teacher, organiser and founder of Kala Pradarshini -- Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala was honoured with the Nritya Perunjothi title and senior male dancer, choreographer and teacher G. Narendra with the Narthaka Nipuna title. The citations were read out by ABHAI vice-presidents Janaki Srinivasan, and Priya Murle, with committee member Nithyakalyani Vaidyanathan playing the role of an efficient emcee.

V.P. Dhananjayan delivered the presidential address which was very motivating for young and aspiring dancers and encouraging to the ABHAI team. Lakshmi Viswanathan's felicitation speech, peppered with interesting anecdotes and her personal interaction with each awardee was enjoyable. It was indeed a pleasure to listen to a great yet humble artist like Prof. A. Janardhanan as he shared his thoughts and experiences in his acceptance speech presented on behalf of all the awardees. Proposing the vote of thanks, Priya Murle expressed ABHAI’s gratitude to all  who had made the event possible, and a special thanks to the donors of the ABHAI welfare fund, which had paved the way for ABHAI to support more than 560 artists during the initial Covid-19 pandemic period when the scenario was bleak.

The second part of the evening’s presentation comprised group presentations by ABHAI members of some items learnt during the Abhivridhishalas (workshops) organised by ABHAI. It was heartening that one troupe, led by guru  Jayashree Narayanan, had come all the way from Puducherry to participate.  All the dancers won the appreciation of the audience for their well coordinated effort. The announcements were ably handled by ABHAI committee members Shanmugha Sundaram, Mahalakshmi Ashwin and Nidheesh.

Overall, a satisfying event, well organised with strict adherence to Covid protocols.