The idea is to introduce music to the uninitiated

Appusami and Seethapatti are fictional characters with whom Tamil readers are familiar. If Gopulu’s sketch made Devan’s Thuppariyum Sambu unforgettable with his bald head and a prominent nose, Jayaraj lent Bhagyam Ramaswamy’s creations that comic touch through double chin and spectacles dangling on the nose - a prosperous looking Seethapaatti juxtaposed with the emaciated and irrepressible old man.

What is the author of the famous stories up to this time?

Ja.Ra. Sundaresan (original name of Bhagyam Ramasamy), is now preoccupied with the task of combining music and literature, Carnatic music to be precise. How did that happen? “You know, we meet once in a month - on the third Saturday evening - at R.A. Puram under the banner ‘Akkarai.’ People from different walks of life get together and for 90 minutes we discuss all issues under the sun. They include authors, readers of magazines and books, besides a few artists from Tamil theatre such as Bombay Kannan and M.B. Murthy. Most of them love Carnatic music.

“During December, when the city was reverberating with Carnatic music and dance, a few members, Tamil writer Kanthalakshmi Chandramouli and writer -activist Shyama among them, suggested that instead of talking vaguely about music, we should organise a concert so that we first listen to music and then discuss it in our ‘Akkarai’ meetings, whenever the topic cropped up.

According to Bhagyam Ramaswamy, Kanthalakshmi and Shyama will co-ordinate with the artists and arrange programmes and he would lend outside support.

The late S. Ramanathan was conducting ‘Paamaranukkum Isai’ on Sunday evenings, taking Carnatic music to the common man, through the Gandhi Peace Foundation. Is this something similar? “Not exactly,” responds Ramaswamy. “We just present the vocalist with accompaniments in a regular kutcheri. We’ll print the name of the songs, raga and the composer in the invitation, so that the uninitiated get acquainted and can even interact with the artist,” he said.

Isai Koodal’s inaugural concert is scheduled today, Jnauary 21, at Srinivasa Sastri Hall, Luz, between 6 and 8 p.m. The artist is Vijayalakshmi Venugopal, accompanied by V.V. Ravi on the violin and V. Ramaiya on the mridangam.

Vijayalakshmi Venugopal was trained under Chittoor Subramania Pillai, Tiruvarur Namasivayam (for Muthuthandavar songs) and Alathur Subramania Iyer, prior to her marriage and after relocation to Chennai came under the tutelage of veterans such as TMT and DKJ. Proficient in the veena, she learnt it from K.P. Sivanandam.

During her stint with AIR, she conducted ‘Vannamani Maalai’ featuring film songs and Carnatic music, for almost a decade. Well-versed in folk songs, her ‘Tamizhisai Thoranam’ was also a successful feature. She performed for the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, London, and drew up a three-year syllabus for its music school, based on her experience as teacher at the Music Academy, Chennai.

As a wing of the Appusami Seethapatti Humour Trust, ‘Akkarai’ has so far honoured Subbu Arumugam, Thenkachi Swaminathan and Kathadi Ramamurthy at its annual function, in the past three years.

A relative of flautist N. Ramani, Ramaswamy says, “I got a lot of musical inputs from him for my novel ‘Poongaatru’ as the hero was a veena vidwan.” Bhagyam Ramasamy has penned several short stories and novels in Kumudham, where he served as an assistant editor for over three decades and many may not know that he learnt Carnatic music under Ananthagopalan, husband of the well known vainika Padmavathi for some time. His companion in the music class? None other than his own master and Editor of Kumudham, S.A.P. Annamalai!