While nagaswaram players Madurai M.P.N. Sethuraman and M.P.N. Ponnusamy were rehearsing for the box-office hit movie Tillana Mohanambal in 1967, actor Savitri asked the director A.P. Nagarajan why he had selected Tyagaraja’s kriti, ‘Nagumomu’, as a song for the film.

In the presence of Music director K.V. Mahadevan, Nagarajan had explained that he had heard AIR’s broadcast of the Madurai brothers playing the song at the Tamil Isai Sangam (TIS) and decided to use it in the film.

“We became famous and the credit should go to the Tamil Isai Sangam,” said Ponnusamy, who received the TIS’ ‘Isai Perarignar’ award on the occasion of the 79 music festival.

Sethuraman and Ponnusamy performed at TIS in 1966. Following the release of the film, their name reached every nook and corner of Tamil Nadu.

Tevaram exponent Sami Dhandapani, who received the ‘Pann Isai Perarignar’ award, said he achieved great heights and settled in London after his performance in TIS in 1997.

“After the concert was over, Mr. Satchithandan, a London-based Sri Lankan Tamil, met me in the green room and invited me to serve the temple and teach those interested in learning Tirumurai singing. In the beginning, I resisted the idea. But he visited my home three times and I agreed,” Dhandapani said, adding that he was receiving the award exactly fifty years after he had last visited TIS.

“My father used to perform and participate in pann research conference. [I visited here] as an eight-year old student. Today I am 58,” he said.

Earlier, presenting the awards, Supreme Court judge, Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla said that just as Lord Shiva had accorded 50 per cent of his body to Goddess Parvati, Tamil had accommodated music as one third of its total wealth.

He also recalled the contributions of Islamic Tamil scholars Umaruppulavar and Kunangudi Masthan Sahib to the enrichment of the language.

Both Ponnusamy and Sami Dhandapani were given a gold-medal each, a citation, a silver plate and Rs. 10,000 cash.