Artists touch upon different facets of the late Madurai Srinivasan, complete musician and a noble human being.
Musicians will miss the cheerful and majestic presence of Madurai Srinivasan, mridangam exponent, who passed away recently. “Don’t practise this art for money,” was his first lesson he taught me and his last when I met him on Vijaya Dasami on October 24,” says D.A. Srinivas, his prime disciple. “His son is a mridangam vidwan but that did not stop him from teaching me whole heartedly. So broadminded he was,” he adds. There was not an artist, who was not touched by his music. If stalwarts marvel at his vidwat and humility, the young brigade, including his grandson Rajiv, underline his kind and tender approach. A sample of artists’ impressions.
Lalgudi G.Jayaraman: A great musician, he played for my solo concerts and together we accompanied stalwarts. Srinivasan was a thorough professional and would deliver whatever was expected of him. Artists had a great time when he was in charge of AIR programmes.
T.V. Sankaranarayanan: I had the privilege of singing first MTS’s song, “Mantra Balam Adaindha Aalayam Mantralayam” in Hamsanadam. It was an instant hit and I have made it a point to sing it everywhere simply for the divine vibrations it spreads.
Srirangam Kannan: MTS was a versatile player, who had mastered the intricacies of laya. He was always supportive to his accompanists. I knew him since 1986 when I played with him for AIR’s Sangeet Sammelan. He used the bottom of old ink pens as whistle to set the pitch as C, C-sharp or D. Based on his tillanas composed with rare ragas and thalas, dance compositions are being choreographed.
B. Kannan: His was not pakka vadyam but pakkaa vadhyam, which uplifted a concert. The day, November 12, 1989, is special to me. We presented a concert at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the presence of R. Venkatraman and MTS was superb, especially with the Simendramadhyamam RTP and his Thani Avartanam.
Mandolin U. Shrinivas: MTS was not only an accomplished instrumentalist, vocalist and composer but a large hearted human being who played for me since 1983. In 1991, when I had played for Ilaiyaraja’s album, Guruvaayur Durai was on the mridangam. MTS specially played for me on the ganjira. He gave the correct feedback without fear or favour.
N. Ramani: A Mylaporean for several decades, he was my accompanist since 1950. He was one of the few who had the credentials to correct mistakes made by others. Upright and honest, he was looked upon as guru by the younger generation.
Dr. S. Karthick: A legend, MTS could clear doubts on any aspect of music - layam, korvai, etc. A great innovator, I loved his mridangam for the film songs, ‘Aayiram Thaamarai Mottukalae,’ ‘Andhi Mazhai Pozhigiradhu,’, ‘Meendum Meendum Vaa’ and ‘Kaadhal Kasakkudhaiya.’
Mambalam Sisters: Attending one of our concerts (we were not aware of his presence), he surprised us the next morning by calling us on phone and complementing our style. He made special mention of ‘Karunai Deivamae’ and said that we rendered it just the way he imagined it. He did not stop with that. He asked us to sing his various other compositions and mailed the collection.
K.S. Rangachari: To watch MTS play Tani Avarthanam is a pleasure. He would play exactly in the same pace as his accompanists. MTS and I had the privilege of playing for M.D. Ramanathan and B.V. Raman and B.V. Lakshmanan, which needed special skill, to tackle the slow pace.
P. Suseela: I would describe him as Naadha Brahmam. It is not a small achievement to make a mark in both classical and light (film) categories. Dance sequences were supervised by nattuvanars, who were strict in their assessment. That Cheenakutty not only survived but earned their respect speaks volumes of his talent.
Vani Jairam: I knew him from my school days when he used to play for my (Vellore) sisters. His mridangam was musical.
K.S. Chithra: He was a father figure to me. When I was practically new to the film field, he gave me such encouragement. He helped me with Tamil pronunciation and never failed to give the thumbs up whenever he thought I had sung very well.
P.S. Narayanaswamy: I knew MTS for over six decades even before he joined AIR. I worked with him for 18 years. Although he was an excellent singer and could have become a great vocalist, his love for the mridangam was greater. Deeply religious, he could be seen engrossed in worship at the shrine of Kapaliswara. For AIR’s Vaadhya Vrinda, he created “rare pieces” each lasting 10 to 15 minutes, based on different ragas and talas sometimes including just chorus singers. He had so much music to offer and his demise is a great loss. month
Neyveli Santhanagopalan: MTS was synonymous with ‘Karunai Deivamae.’ When D.K. Jayaraman sang the song there was not a dry eye in the audience. He could handle varnams however complicated the beat. Prior briefing was not required. He was the first to greet whenever a vidwan received an award. Many mridangam artists consider him as their manaseega guru.
V.V. Subramaniam: MTS was a Maha Vidwan. He was endowed with musical and handicraft skills. He generously complemented the nuances I brought into my play. Compassionate, he understood the predicament of an organiser, who could not pay us after a concert, and pacified the team that was disappointed and angry. “That man has financial problems. He can only compensate us by borrowing money, which again will put him in difficulties. The Almighty will reward us,” he said. since
Vikku Vinayakaram: I revere him as my guru. He was my father’s best friend and was a music master who never expected any commercial returns. He never wasted time and would teach me new korvais during train journeys. He perfected the way the mridangam could be used in a film.
G.S. Mani: We both hail from Madurai and almost same age group. I have seen him put in long hours of practice at home. While MSV roped him in for special segments, Ilaiyaraja and Rahman made full use of his talent. He was a scholar, fully conversant with the theory of music.
Karaikkudi Mani: MTS commanded universal respect. He composed the “Sumanesaranjani tillana for my niece Rajeswari Sainath around a decade ago. The same was deployed by Balasai and U.P. Raju in their concerts as it was highly rhythm-oriented involving interesting arithmetic.
S.P. Balasubramaniam: I had the privilege of singing with him on the mridangam. Naturally, because he was sought after by all composers. I cannot forget the guidance he gave when I delivered all those songs for ‘Sankarabharanam.’ S.P. Shylaja, who knew him 1975, mentions her songs for ‘Salangai Oli’ with MTS accompanying as most memorable.
Kalpana Raghavendar: He opened my eyes and ears to real music, being my guru since 1996. Every December, he would take me to various concerts and what a learning experience it was! This year, I only have his memories to accompany me.
M.S. Kannan shares
In 2003, MTS joined Ilayaraja on his invitation and both travelled to Tiruvaiyaru where at the bard’s samadi, the composer wrote lyrics on Tyagaraja and MTS set them to tune and both sang the songs.
Aruna Sairam insisted that MTS play the mridangam for her ‘Kaalinga Nardhanam.’
Introducing MTS to Sanjeev Kumar on the sets of ‘Mridanga Chakravarty’ at the AVM studios, Sivaji Ganesan said he (MTS) was the original mridanga chakravarty.
It was a rare percussion composition that Ilayaraja created and MTS played for the climax of “Thambikku Endha Ooru.”
Among the 22 tillanas that he composed MLV chose Surutti for her album on Karpagambal.