Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer – for a music lover, stringing these iconic names in a sentence is itself an indulgence. Carnatic vocalist Ashok Ramani, however, goes one step further and enshrines them all in one frame.
Ramani put together an exhibition of vintage pictures of artistes from a defining era in Indian music and dance. What began with a simple share on Facebook has now become a serious pursuit. However, the seed was sown decades earlier.
“Barely 10 years old, I witnessed the endless comings and goings of great artistes at the Mylapore home of my grandfather, the legendary singer-composer Papanasam Sivan,” he said. “It was then that I developed an abiding respect and appeal towards musicians. When I went to college, I began collecting pictures of these rare maestros.”
Rare pictures of the inimitable Sivan himself, of veena exponent Balachander, of a young and radiant M.S. Subbulakshmi, of a teenaged Sudha Ragunathan smiling with a Tanpura behind a benign MLV, a precious and rare stage with Pt. Ravi Shankar, Allah Rakha and Palakkad Raghu are some of the images that draw an observer.
“I wanted to put them in a place where youngsters could access them. I used Facebook as a medium. The response has been quite good and I decided to exhibit the prints,” said Ramani. The gallery was inaugurated by vocalists P. Unnikrishnan and Nithyashree Mahadevan on Thursday.