Dance obeisance to an empress of music, who traversed all genres with ease …
Come to think of it, few musicians have left behind such a rich sishya parampara as M.L. Vasanthakumari has! The dawn came at Utsav Music’s dance show, ‘Aadal Kaaneero,’ when a whole lot of MLV’s celebrity disciples came together via video bytes to relive the memories of the days with their guru. But basically it was a dance tribute to the musical genius. Radhika Shurajit’s concept and choreography for ‘Aadal Kaaneero’ was a blend of aesthetics and imagination.
MLV, the film playback singer was as popular as MLV, the Carnatic musician par excellence. Hence connoisseurs of dance and film music thronged the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, in Mylapore, on New Year’s Day, to celebrate the glorious voice. Premiered for Karthik Fine Arts, the show had songs that MLV rendered for films and those that she popularised through her concerts.
Composer Chalapathi Rao’s ever popular ‘Aadum Arul Jothi’ from ‘Meenda Sorgam’ excellently enunciated by MLV, set the mood for the vibrant refrains that followed. G. Ramanathan’s score for ‘Madurai Veeran’ has an ever fresh appeal — MLV’s timbre in the song, ‘Aadal Kaaneero,’ combined with Padmini’s effervescent dance movements, is a connoisseur’s choice. An appealing replication, no doubt, but the original will always remain vivid in your mind.
R. Sudarsanam’s composition, ‘Gopalanodu Naan …’ is by no means an easy number to sing. As the inimitable voice of MLV breezed through it with élan, Maanu’s (remember Ajith’s heroine in ‘Kaadhal Mannan?’) presence lit up the stage.
Showcasing MLV’s versatility is fine, but you couldn’t help feeling that instead of a song like ‘Aiyya Sami’ Radhika could have gone in for another of the enchanting ragamalikas MLV has sung in films.
The scintillating piece from ‘Parthiban Kanavu,’ ‘Andhi Mayangudhadi,’ was expressively presented by the charming Maanu. That MLV had sung a thillana composed by Shanker-Jaikishen for the Hindi film, ‘Chori Chori’ came as a surprise — it marked the finale of the evening.
The non-filmi songs popularised by MLV were equally enticing — ‘Maalai Varum Vaelai’ and ‘Kaavadi Chindhu’ in particular. While most of the songs were in MLV’s voice, some of them had been recorded anew by Radha Badri, who had done ample justice to the numbers. The choice of colours and the design of the costume for each item spelt finesse.
The disciples of MLV shared their unforgettable moments with the legend, and her inimitable prowess. Each dwelt on a different facet, thus making the insertions interesting. If Sudha Ragunathan described her guru’s music as ‘Raja Sangeetham,’ Kanyakumari spoke of MLV’s improvisations from an accompanist’s angle. Jayanthi Mohan’s take on the veteran was very engaging. MLV would gauge the mood of the audience in the first few minutes of a concert and change the entire list of songs which had been prepared for the evening, to cater for the mood of listeners in the hall, she said, while Jayanthi Sridhar described her years under MLV’s tutelage as “golden.” The other sishyas, whose eulogy is etched in your minds, were Charumathi Ramachandran, Trichur Ramachandran, T.M. Prabhavathy, Yogam Santhanam, Subha Ganesan and Pushpa Anand.
Radhika Shurajit has successfully choreographed songs of veterans in classical style, such as the ones of Kannadasan and Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna. The MLV segment is the third in line. Choreography was apt but somehow the verve you noted in Radhika Shurajit’s interpretation of Kannadasan songs, seemed a little less this time.
As you walked out of the hall, the thought foremost on your mind was that despite the accolades and honours MLV probably didn’t get her due during her life time. Thanks to the efforts of ardent admirers such as Radhika Shurajit, and MLV’s illustrious sishya team the voice of the dulcet queen should be remembered forever.