Beat route to fame

Athira M.
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Chatline Mridangam artiste and Guinness World Records holder Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan tells Athira M. about his tryst with the percussion instrument that has taken him places

Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan put his village in the Guinness World Records in 2004. Felicitations and honours followed. The mridangam artiste was in the capital city for yet another performance and felicitation, but his mood was anything but upbeat.

His father, 86-year-old K.R. Gopalakrishna Iyer, had been hospitalised and Ramakrishnan could not wait to return to Palakkad to be with him, his guru and pillar of strength in all his endeavours.

“My father taught me the basics of playing the mridangam. He is such a passionate fan of the instrument that he keeps saying that he wants to listen to it when he breathes his last. It might sound crazy, but when I got a job after my studies, he insisted that I learn the mridangam instead of taking up a job,” says Ramakrishnan.

Growing up in a family that was in tune with music, there was no lack of encouragement for the budding musician. “My mother, P.L.Saraswathy, used to sing. I’m the youngest and my five sisters doted on me,” recalls the artiste.

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