Sudharani Raghupathy: I have known Lalgudi for a long time. In fact, we participated in the India Festival at Russia, and then got back together to Delhi for a reception there. I think Lalgudi is a complete composer in terms of lyric, music, sangati and nuances. His compositions make me want to dance to them. That's where his greatness lies. The raga bhava that he brings to his works is apt and amazing. Among his songs, I find the Neelambari pada varnam (‘Senthil Mevum Deva Deva') soothing. It's a favourite with many dancers.

Chitra Visweswaran: I have had the privilege of having the legend compose specially for me. The Shanmukhapriya varnam on Lord Balaji (Deiva Munivar) is one such. I wanted a song based on the bhakti rasa and Lalgudi mama came up with this beautiful composition at once. Similarly, the navaragamalika varnam on the nine forms of Devi, ‘Angayarkanni,' is a magnum opus, rich in content and music. His compositions blend melody with meaning in a sensitive manner and that makes it easy to translate them into another genre; they spur the dancer's creativity. I am partial to the Charukesi varnam especially because it suited my husband's voice so well.

Priyadarsini Govind: One of the main reasons why Lalgudi mama's compositions for dance are easy to choreograph is because he is able to visualise the lyric, and understand the need of the dancer. There is plenty of variety in the sangatis, and the melody is taken care of. Each composition is visual poetry. My personal favourites are the Tilang thillana and the Neelambari pada varnam, which was incidentally my guru Rajaratnam sir's all-time favourite.

(As told to SAVITHA GAUTAM)

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