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Updated: December 23, 2009 14:08 IST

‘It was as if Mani Iyer was teaching me all along’

As told to Lakshmi Venkatraman
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T.H. Vikku Vinayakram
Phone: K. Gajendran
The Hindu
T.H. Vikku Vinayakram Phone: K. Gajendran

T.H. Vikku Vinayakaram was around 13 and had just begun to play in concerts. There was a concert by Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar who was accompanied by T.N. Krishnan and Palghat Mani Iyer, at the Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Triplicane. Vikku's father was keen on making his son play. Those days there was rarely any upa pakkavadyam when Mani Iyer played the mridangam. Father and son had to get the organisers' permission, who wanted them to get approval from the musicians, particularly Mani Iyer. The concert was scheduled to take place from 4.15 to 9.30 p.m. ‘We were running from one artist to the other till 4 p.m. and finally I was allowed to sit on the dais. I was just sitting there with no chance to play - Mani Iyer had to give the go ahead - and wondered why father had insisted. There were already two short thani avartanams. At 8.30 p.m., RTP was taken up which was set to Tisrajati Triputa Talam, 4 kalai Chavukkam, with eduppu at ‘Veechu Thalli. Mani Iyer played the thani in six kaalams. Suddenly, I heard a ‘uum…' from Mani Iyer to join in. I started playing without knowing much of what was happening, as I was not too well versed at that time and was scared. But when he reached the 5th kaalam, I got the hang of it and began to play along and did well in the 6th kaalam. We got a standing ovation in the end. It was as if the stalwart was teaching me all along; I realised why my father was so keen I play that day.'

Another memory is the concert by M.S. Subbulakshmi in the late 1960s at Shanmukhananda Sabha in Mumbai . ‘Just before the beginning of the programme, there was electricity failure. So no lights, no mike! Hundreds of candles were lit all over the auditorium and the stage. It was a four-hour mike-less concert and one of the best ever in my career.

(A column where artists recall performances/impressions that remain in their memory)


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