Aspects that made the legend special were touched upon by speakers. bani

Commemorating the birth centenary of musician par excellence, T. Brinda, a DVD of the documentary, ‘Brindamma-Music beyond Music’, baniwas released on July 2 by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Chairman of Kalakshetra, and former Governor of West Bengal at Sivagami Pethachi Hall. Cleveland V.V. Sundaram received the first copy. The documentary, researched and directed by S.B. Khanthan and produced by R.K. Ramanathan, is a statement on the life, times and the bani of the musician. Released under Swathi’s Sanskriti series of Swathi Soft Solutions, the launch saw its screening, which took the audience through a virtual time travel.

Gopalkrishna Gandhi began his tribute to Brindamma through a poetic speech that touched upon the enigmatic persona of Brindamma. He said that the magic of the ‘Brindabani’ encompassed itself within the gap and kaarvais between syllables, extending to anuswaras and measured gamakas.

He retraced the significant points from the acceptance speech she gave at the Music Academy in 1977 (when she was conferred the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi’), in which she stated that compromising on the quality of music and catering substandard music to the audience by weighing it on the taste of audience was wrong, bad, inappropriate and untenable (sariyalla, nalladalla, uchithamalla, nyayamalla).”

Guest of Honour and composer, Spencer Venugopal, said that the aesthetic height of Dhanammal Bani was evident from the fact that, the legends such as Ramnad Krishnan, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and M.S. Subbulakshmi underwent training under Brindamma.

V.V. Sundaram highlighted the determination Brindamma showcased in sticking to the traditional approach of sampradhaya, which was the coat of arms pertaining to the Dhanammal School. Quoting anecdotes, Sundaram said that she handpicked disciples and has no patience for mediocrity.

Review of the documentary

The documentary is a collector’s delight and features detailed analysis on her philosophy of life and music, her style of rendition, approach and bhava. With scenic visuals juxtaposed with her photos (the available few), the documentary is a visual feast and an aural treat, intertwined with her priceless renditions and available video excerpts.

The documentary traces her life from her initial days of tutelage under Kancheepuram Naina Pillai and Veena Dhanammal to her growth as a performing musician against the tides of a male dominant society with the added constrains of her traditional approach which seldom attracted crowd.

In the DVD, a galaxy of musicians and disciples pay their homage to the legendary vidushi through anecdotes and analysis on the aspects of her music. The DVD is priced at Rs. 150.

(Jayakrishnan N is a Post Graduate student of Madras University)

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