QUEEN OF CARNATIC

India Today - - LEISURE - —Anu­radha Vel­lat

TThe mu­sic of M.L. Vas­an­thaku­mari, MLV to those who knew her, was a genre of its own. She and her con­tem­po­raries, D.K. Pat­tam­mal and M.S. Sub­bu­lak­shmi, were known as the ‘fe­male trin­ity of Carnatic mu­sic’—hint­ing at a sta­tus bor­der­ing the di­vine. MLV’s ren­di­tions tres­passed the tra­di­tional bound­aries of the form; her film songs be­came katcheri (con­cert) songs and her clas­si­cal works were in­cor­po­rated into pop­u­lar cin­ema.

In hon­our of MLV’s 90th birth­day this year, Sudha Raghu­nathan, her dis­ci­ple and one of the most soughtafter Carnatic vo­cal­ists to­day, will per­form at a con­cert at Stein Au­di­to­rium, In­dia Habi­tat Cen­tre, New Delhi, on Novem­ber 25 along with renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Rama Vaidyanathan. Ti­tled ‘Sa­madr­ishti’, the per­for­mance will ex­plore the ‘same gaze’ that the per­form­ers will in­ter­pret through their dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines. “[MLV] sang a lot of film songs, which are very clas­si­cal and can fit into a katcheri. There are many ash­ta­padis and padams that she pop­u­larised. For us, be­ing able to do this is in it­self a priv­i­lege,” ex­plains Raghu­nathan. “I feel that some­times, she sang only for dance,” adds Vaidyanathan. “She of­ten sang for her daugh­ter (ac­tress Sriv­idya), who’s an ac­com­plished Bharatanatyam dancer.”

The con­cert will fea­ture seven or eight songs in Tamil, Tel­ugu, Kan­nada and San­skrit. Dis­ci­ples say MLV en­deav­oured never to iso­late the singer from the song, but to bring to­gether a cer­tain bhava (ex­pres­sion) that was per­son­alised. “She un­der­stood the ver­sa­til­ity of each voice and that there are ad­van­tages, disad­van­tages and di­men­sions to it. She gave a lee­way to do more than what she had in­ter­preted in the songs,” says Raghu­nathan. “There are parts where my mu­sic re­acts to Rama’s ab­hi­naya and there are parts where she waits for my em­bel­lish­ments and re­acts to them.”

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