Ramakanth and Ratnamala, the eldest among the late Carnatic vocalist R.K. Srikantan’s seven children, say: “We were lucky to be trained by our father; the biggest wealth is in his rich musical legacy.”
The siblings say the Srikantan school would be preserved. Srikantan died here on Monday after a brief illness.
Ramakanth has been performing for 50 years and has accompanied his father for more than four decades on stage. Getting emotional as he recollected his informal lessons at home and on stage, he said: “His stern eyes spoke volumes when he wanted to correct me.”
Reminiscing about great moments during their performances, Ramakanth says: “Rani Sethu Bai at the Navarathri Mandapam in Kerala invited us to her palace. During the course of conversation, she requested my father to take up a particular Swati Tirunal kriti as she was longing to hear a traditionalist’s flourishes! What was more amusing was, after a moving Begada raga and kriti at a Seshadripuram concert, mridangist Palghat Mani Iyer requested ‘Sir, why not some swara-prastara?’”
For the reputed Sugama Sangeeta artiste Ratnamala, Srikantan’s rod of discipline, as her classical music guru, is what she cherishes. She can’t forget the intricacies of the Bhairavi varna which gave her some sleepless nights.
“My father didn’t speak to me for days until I got it right,” she recollects.
The strong foundation helped me take to Sugama Sangeeta easily, and his open mind to my choice of light music was astonishing, she adds. “Decades ago, when one of the Ganakala Parishat’s sammelans in Chikmagalur commenced with my ‘Yava Mohana Murali’, he said, ‘What is this beautiful stream of melody, neither Carnatic nor Hindustani, but so rich in its flow?’”
What made Srikantan ecstatic was when sitar maestro Pandit Ravishankar chose Ratnamala to represent Karnataka at an Indian fest fusion programme at Moscow, Russia. “You are gearing up to take my musical inheritance across,” he had told her.