Meera Srinivasan

“D.K. Pattammal’s music was emotionally deep”

CHENNAI: She was one of those rare breed of artists who are not affected by their fame and celebrity status. When disciples and admirers recalled their association with legendary musician D.K. Pattammal, who passed away on Thursday, they spoke of her inimitable warmth, simplicity and accessibility.

Vocalist Aruna Sairam said artists such as Smt. Pattammal were eternal. “Her music was both, technically rich and emotionally deep. In her voice, the power of poetry or lyrical content would hit you, piercing your heart.”

Dancer Vyjayanthimala Bali said she cherished her association with the musician. “I have learnt a lot from her. Every time I visited her, she would ask me to sing ‘Nannu vidichi…’ in Reetigowlai. She is one of the most adorable persons who I have met, who would stump me with her affection.”

Smt. Pattammal shared a special bond with her younger brother, the late musician D.K. Jayaraman, with whom she performed for many years. Recalling his guru’s immense fondness for her, vocalist N. Vijay Siva said: “Sometimes he would be taking class, looking very troubled. In five minutes, he would rush to the phone, call his sister and ask, “Patta, kochuntiya?” (Did you get angry?). They would have had a small fight, but he would not be able to concentrate on classes until he spoke to her and made sure she was not angry.”

On her music, Mr. Vijay Siva said she could give mike-less concerts effortlessly. “Hers was such a brilliant mind. Her rich tone would just envelope the auditorium and leave the audience mesmerised.”

Extremely generous

Vocalist Charumathi Ramachandran described her “a great guru” who was extremely generous.

Smt. Pattammal was devoted to tradition, but never hesitated to embrace or appreciate new ideas.

Theatre person and actor Y.Gee. Mahendra had once taken her to see the film ‘Shankarabharanam’. “She was so genuine with her praise…she told me that the film had achieved what Carnatic musicians had not - it took the art to the masses,” he said.

It was not just Smt. Pattammal, the musician, who inspires awe. As a person, she was very loving and compassionate.

Mangala Krishnan, a close associate of the family, had once come visiting from Singapore. After a lovely meal at their house, she told Smt. Pattammal that she loved the ‘mavudu’ (mango pickle) served. Smt. Pattammal immediately packed some for her in a little bottle. But, in their excitement, the guests left the bottle behind.

“We went to the airport and I was about to clear customs, when the officer at the counter told me that a VIP lady had come to see me. I had no clue, but went to check. It was Pattammal standing there, holding the bottle and grinning. ‘You liked it so much and you forgot to take it. I am so glad I reached here on time,’ she said like a child.”