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Haunting Melodies – Memorable Musical Memoirs - By T.M. Anantharaman

BANGALORE, April 1: It is a musical journey, my own and with my very own favourites. The wonderful thing is that in this journey, spanning some six decades, I have come across some amazing experiences which I wish to share with my friends one and all. I presume many are as involved with music as I am. Again, I must confess that this journey has been made possible because of so many wonderful singers, musicians and playback singers, as also highly creative artistes. As the poet saint Thyagaraja says in that superb Pancharatna kriti in Sri raga: “Endaro mahanu bhavalu antariki vandanamulu”. In essence, this musical journey is, therefore, my humble homage to the melodious musicians and singers and music-makers who have given me immense pleasure over the years and who have enchanted me with their glorious style of music - be it Carnatic classical, Hindustani classical or films with their devotional numbers, pure philosophical expressions or just romantic songs, including the Ghazals.

Music from these masters has held me in thrall many a time, making me savor and relish their offerings time and again. Music from these melody-makers have given me as I presume countless others tremendous joy and happiness. Music from these maestros have haunted me and compelled me to sit down and take note of their melodious expressions, making me forget many other important chores like going to office on time, for instance. As you grow old, you encounter many voices and many moods and very few though have the intrinsic quality to swamp you with their beauty and hold you in thrall. Few voices have this ability and fewer still are compelling enough to relish and recall.

In my six decades of this musical journey, a number of voices - both male and female - have revealed their unique quality and this is what I attempt to record in these musically haunting memoirs. It is, as I have said before, my own personal tribute to these maestros and their melodious work. To me, they have become memorable and I expect it would have for others as well. My musical, haunting, account of musicians, singers and melody- makers and their memoirs, I trust, would help many others take a trip down memory lane and cherish those memorable times. Forgive me if I have not captured some of the voices which may have appealed to you and you may have become very fond of those singers or musicians. But please don’t forget that this is like a cricket match - most often you fail to put runs on the board but sometimes you score and become a favourite of the crowd. My musical memoirs is somewhat like this—a hit and miss affair. I do hope that there are more hits than misses and those who read my journey enjoy the trips as much as I did. Well then, here we go into melody lane and for a memory and musical ride.
Ek Tera Sahara … the early years
By T.M. Anantharaman

As I approach a ripe old age of largely inconsequential and routine living, memories have begun playing tricks.  »
Lakshmipuram days & Madurai Mani Iyer’s enchanting music!
By T.M. Anantharaman

The road to “Kandan karunai puriyun vadivel”, coincidentally also in raga Jaunpuri, is also a long journey, and I have enjoyed every melody that came my way over the years and these were, in fact, the years I can truly describe as the “musically haunting melodious years”.  »
Regal, enviable GNB!
By T.M. Anantharaman

If Mani Iyer enthralled us with his lilt of swaras and joyful enunciation of many Thyagaraja compositions even though slurring over some words, another stalwart and contemporary of his era was the magnificent and regal vidwan G.N. Balasubramaniam (GNB).  »
Devotional mystic MS Amma
By T.M. Anantharaman

Any mention of M.S. Amma for me begins with the inimitable devotional flair she brings to her singing. As a youngster I and my uncle Raman had heard her sing “kaatrinile varum geetham”, a memorable melody that wafted the beauty of music through the very air we were breathing.  »
Another Barat Ratna, another genre!
By T.M. Anantharaman

Let me digress from Carnatic music to popular Bollywood music as epitomized by another Bharat Ratna, the Living Legend Lata Mangeshkar. Singers of Hindi film music are many but no one can measure up to the melody queen Lata Mangeshkar for her ability to create vivid imagery with her sweet voice and her clarity of diction.  »
MDR, a maestro of melancholic melody!
By T.M. Anantharaman

When I was young and had just started taking a liking for music, I never used to listen much to Carnatic musicians. But, over the years, I have developed a distinct interest, especially to simple compositions in Tamil and popular film songs, both in Hindi and Tamil.  »
Madurai Somu & his mesmerizing ways
By T.M. Anantharaman

Imagine an auditorium such as Shanmukhananda Hall at Matunga in Mumbai, with a seating capacity of over 2,000 people fully packed and the vast majority of them senior citizens but deeply loving Carnatic music and deeply religious.  »
Irrepressible, irresistible MLV
By T.M. Anantharaman

Not without reason M.L.Vasanthakumari is held in high esteem by lovers of Carnatic music. For MLV typified what most musicians would aspire to be: an extraordinary singer with an exceptionally sweet and vibrant voice, which could scale octaves with ease.  »
Lilting crooner Talat Mahmood
By T.M. Anantharaman

Ever since I heard Talat Mahmood for the first time in the song “Ye hawa ye raat ye chandini, teri ek nigahpe nissar hai” from film Sangdil way back in 1950s, I have become a diehard fan of his lilting, crooning, silky and chimerical ghazals, nazms, and other filmy romantic or sad songs.  »
Mohamed Rafi - Melody in many moods
By T.M. Anantharaman

From “Arumo aaval” to “Hari Om, man tadapatu Hari darshanuko aaj” is a relatively big jump but Mohamed Rafi made it easy for me, immortalizing his brand of music for me and my chota grandfather (Chinna Thatha, as we would say in Tamil) Shri Krishna Bagavathar and, I presume, to countless other admirers.  »
Manna Dey - Matchless purity!
By T.M. Anantharaman

The first time I heard him was when I heard the duet song “Darti kahe pukar ke” in the 1953 film Do Biga Zamin in tandem with the legendary Lata Mangeshkar. Despite this some vibrant quality in his voice made you sit up and take notice, especially when he sang the soul-stirring “baayi re” in the upper octave, imparting so much of enthralling entreaty to mother Earth.  »
For Begum, music is a religion
By T.M. Anantharaman

South Indians, be it singers or listeners, are largely conservative, both bound by tradition and tradition-bound. The year was 1970 or so, and the mostly Tamilian Brahmnical crowd and lovers of music had congregated to attend the music festival organised by the Chembur Fine Arts Society.  »
Kerala’s own darling dasettan!
By T.M. Anantharaman

Even after nearly five decades since I first heard Yesudos’ “Chakravarti nee”, it still haunts me every time I hear it. Yesudos’s voice had that magnetic quality to hold you spellbound every time you hear it.  »
Jagjit Singh, Ghazal’s crowning glory!
By T.M. Anantharaman

I was shattered and devastated. Never before in all these years have I felt so lost, so utterly helpless, so desolate as I did when I heard that Jagjit Singh breathed his last on one fine day in October last year.  »