‘Vandanam' throws light on the life and times of four music legends.

The DVD of a documentary titled 'Vandanam' on G.N. Balasubramaniam, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M.S. Subbulakhmi, M.L. Vasanthakumari and Maharajapuram Santhanam was released recently by Mudhra Recording Co. at Raga Sudha Hall, Mylapore.

T.S. Krishnamurthy (chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan) released the DVD and B.R. Kumar (former DDG, AIR and DD, Chennai) received the first copy. After the function, a panel of speakers threw light on the musical contribution of these legends.

On MS

Musicologist Dr. S.A.K. Durga analysed how M.S.Subbulakshmi excelled in every aspect of music be it raga alapana, kriti rendition, niraval or kalpanaswaras.

Talking about guru Semmangudi, P.S. Narayanaswami said despite having a non-cooperative voice, Semmangudi achieved the great heights through sheer hard work and determination. He made a vital point about the contribution of Semmangudi – he set beautiful sangatis to many kritis -- and said his guru would analyse raga bhava and sahitya bhava in depth before settling down on sangatis.

Kanyakumari recalled how M.L.Vasanthakumari was instrumental in shaping her career and giving her many performing opportunities. Pointing out to the large heartedness of MLV, she said that the singer would always showed words of appreciation whenever Kanyakumari performed well on stage.

Thiruvarur Bhakthavatsalam, who accompanied MLV for many concerts, said she was an artist with rare merit and it was a revelation to accompany her. In fact, one would never know before hand what she was going to perform, and each concert proved to be a challenge. She would venture into rare ragas and talas and handle them with such expertise and aesthetics that the audience would be left spellbound.

The next speaker O.S.Thiagarajan has been influenced by G.N.Balasubramaniam's music in a profound way. He mentioned various ragas such as Thodi, Kalyani, Andolika and Chenjukhambodi on which GNB has left an indelible mark.

Dr. Ganesh has fond memories of his guru Maharajapuram Santhanam. He said that the years spent with his guru are to be cherished. Santhanam's power to pull a record crowd and keep the audience captivated till the end was due to his uncanny sense of gauging the pulse of the audience and sing suitably. The way he brought out shades of ragas made his singing unique.

Excerpts from the DVD were played to demonstrate the musical excellence of the trend-setting musicians.