Tribute to singer A.P. Komala

A tribute to A.P. Komala who passed away recently

Updated - May 24, 2024 04:11 pm IST

Published - May 23, 2024 02:05 pm IST

Musician A.P. Komala

Musician A.P. Komala

How do you start talking about a person who has been a part of your life for decades, whom you have admired and looked up at with awe? Let me start from where it all began.

Vidushi A. P. Komala was a staff artiste of All India Radio, Chennai. My mother, Vijayalakshmi Murthy, was then the programme executive in charge of classical music. That’s how they met and became good friends. Known for her penchant for Vivadi ragas and rare kritis, my mother learnt quite a few compositions from her and also enrolled me as a student. I was 13 when I began to learn. Sadly, my classes stopped soon thereafter for various reasons. I reconnected after more than 20 years, and resumed my training.

A well-known playback singer, A.P. Komala has sung several film songs across all South Indian languages, especially in Malayalam. She sometimes felt sad that her film songs overshadowed her identity as a Carnatic musician.

My guru revelled in taking up rare rages as the main item of her concerts, usually with a rare kriti to go with it. Once during a class, she suddenly remembered raga Kalyanadayini, a rare janya of Kalyani. She recalled learning a kriti by Dandapani Desikar in the raga, but was upset that she had forgotten the sahitya. Umpteen Internet searches and book shop and library hunts later, I was able to find it. Her joy made the effort worth it — she sang the entire kriti with just one look at the sahityam. Apart from the compositions of the Trinity, she knew the kritis of many lesser-known composers too.

She is gone but her voice still lingers.

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