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Updated: April 23, 2010 18:43 IST

In the big league

RANJANI GOVIND
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Aishwarya: ‘Except in school, I have my iPod playing Carnatic numbers all the time’ Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
Aishwarya: ‘Except in school, I have my iPod playing Carnatic numbers all the time’ Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

Aishwarya, M.S. Subbulakshmi's great-grand-daughter, holds promise. Music is more than a passion for her

S. Aishwarya is M.S. Subbulakshmi's great-grand daughter with an innate ear for music. Her intense musicality, showing signs of an imminent well-groomed performer, has meant renewed enthusiasm for her grandma Radha Vishwanathan who had been out of music for almost 15 years. “Even now she is wheel-chair bound, but her passion to see her proud lineage bloom in Aishwarya has proved a comeback, for, the two are already performing together since 2007. They are both taking part at Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana this April, and my mother would be honoured with the title ‘Kala Chandrika,” says V. Shrinivasan, Radha's son.

In a reversal of sorts, now Radha sings in the lower octave while the 14-year-old Aishwarya, studying in ninth standard soars in the higher octaves. “Except in school, I have my iPod playing Carnatic numbers all the time,” she says. Aishwarya sounds precocious for her age, “I would love to hold on to the special features that mark the Semmangudi School as it came across in the music of MS-Radha.” Aishwarya lists a few – the neraval of “Deva Deva” in Mayamalavagowla, the unhurried rendering of the Kamach kriti “Brochevarevarura”, the pristine Saveri in “Sri Kamakoti Peetasthite”, the evergreen Meera bhajans and the unforgettable delineation of Todi for the kriti “Raave Himagiri”.

But it's not that Aishwarya is lost in the intensity of her music alone, she loves reading murder mysteries, Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. Aishwarya's lessons began when she was a four year old; both MS and Radha initiated it. They insisted that she includes akaara practice in saralivarse, jantivarse and in all other basic swara lessons in two octaves everyday. When MS heard the nine-year-old Aishwarya sing “Bhavayami Gopala Balam” specially for her, she was moved to say: “You will take my name across.” Radha did put in her bits as well. She had told Aishwarya rather early that the opening lines of the kriti itself should bring out the raga-swaroopa . “The listener should at once distinguish whether it is Pantuvarali or Poorvikalyani!”

Although Aishwarya has emerged from the MS baani, she is grateful to Jambu Kannan (disciple of T.N. Seshagopalan) her guru in Bangalore, who has assiduously given her a firm foundation . The talent is evident when Aishwarya takes up MS' popular Nadanamakriya virutham “Petra Thai” with the same impeccable approach that fetches instant applauds. No wonder even sitar maestro Ravi Shankar had advised the little girl in 2008 to practice well and keep her good voice going.

Aishwarya takes veena lessons from A. Shankararaman for “increased knowledge on swara-sthana”. Aishwarya's spontaneous serenades in the raga Yaman engulf the room, with the inverted mud-pots fixed to the ceiling and the wooden flooring enhance the aural treat. Aishwarya has an academic aim linked to her musical aspirations — masters in World Music and a special study in frequencies for handling Indian acoustics better.


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