“M.S. Subbulakshmi was my guide and the finest guru that anyone could wish for. She was not just a queen of music, but a queen of compassion and generosity,” recollects 79-year-old Radha Vishwanathan, her cherished memories of her mother traversing six decades of her accompanying M.S. across the globe.
“M.S. Amma’s 97th birth anniversary celebrations is on September 16, and I am happy to receive a Lifetime Award from the Andhra Pradesh Governor under the auspices of the Krishna Gana Sabha. M.S. would have been elated to see me receive this,” says Ms. Radha, who stays in Bangalore with son V. Srinivasan.
It was during this time last year that Tumkur University bestowed an honorary doctorate on Ms. Radha for her services and the citation that said, ‘The sole disciple who is the torchbearer of a musical legacy pioneered by M.S. Subbulakshmi’.
Ms. Radha may still be the sole legacy of Subbulakshmi’s inheritance, but she has passed on much of what she had learnt to several students. Although wheelchair-bound, it is Radha’s accurate memory and agile mind that has made her teach 150 kritis to her granddaughters Aishwarya and Saundarya.
“I have a target of completing 500 more in the next three years,” she says, busy extending lessons to other students such as vocalist K.V. Narayana Swamy’s daughter Anuradha and ghata maestro Vikku Vinayakram’s son Mahesh Vinayakram. Ms. Radha teaches most kritis without referring to a single book.
“I always had a good memory, I know at least 1,000 kritis, and several that M.S. Amma and me learnt from Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer which weren’t presented due to ill-health. This is what I have brought back to my students. It was M.S. Amma’s dream that we present everything that we learnt,” she says.
Annamacharya’s ‘Bhavayami Gopala Balam’ chokes Radha with memories. ‘I feel M.S. Amma is with me when I hear Aishwarya sing,” she says, recollecting her two years of rigorous ‘Annamaiyya kritis practice’ with M.S.