Music

Music for the masses

Ajith Namboothiri   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

M usic, irrespective of the genre, should reach the common man. This has been musician Ajith Namboothiri’s motto ever since he began learning music. And he continues to stick to this motto by doing his bit to popularise music by producing a number of music-based programmes and content for television. He is currently the producer and presenter of ‘Sruthilayam’, a classical-music based programme on Amrita TV, aired Monday to Friday at 7 a.m. He has also conceptualised and directed the show ‘Jeevadhara’, which focusses on the legacy of Ayurveda, also aired on Amrita TV on Saturdays at 7 a.m. Excerpts from an interview with the musician…

Musical background

I took to music only at the age of 21, mainly because it wasn’t easy to pursue music at my native place, Neeleswaram in Kasaragod district. But I’ve always had a liking for art and culture, something which I inherited from my maternal grandfather, A.P. Ganapathy, who was well-versed in music, literature, medicine and astrology.

I started taking lessons from Kaithapram Viswanathan and Vellikkottu Vishnu Bhatt, who advised me to learn music thoroughly. So, I did my Ganabhooshanam course from Swati Tirunal College of Music in Thiruvanathapuram and Ganapraveena course from Chembai Memorial Government Music College, Palakkad. Then I graduated in Indian Music from University of Madras. I have learnt from Mavelikara Prabhakara Varma as well. Now I am a student of Neyveli R.Santhanagopalan.

Tryst with TV

I got my first break through ‘Ragotsavam’, which was aired on Kairali TV for five years. I am grateful to composer M.Jayachandran, who presented the show with vocalist Kavalam Sreekumar, for giving me the opportunity. It was based on different ragas of Indian music and demonstrated how they are used in different musical genres such as Carnatic, Hindustani, Kathakali music, film music... Although I was assigned to do the research work, I became the episode director from the 16th episode onwards and occasionally co-anchored the show as well.

Later, I conceptualised and directed shows such as ‘Nadabrahmam’ on People TV, which I hosted as well, ‘Ragaratnam Junior 2’, a reality show for young Carnatic musicians, and ‘Laasyam’, the first-ever reality show for Mohiniyattom artistes, both on Amrita TV. I also directed and anchored a special programme on World Music Day, which was based on the raga Shankarabharanam, and directed a documentary series, ‘Kalakshethrangal’, based on the music and artistic heritage of Kerala, both for Amrita TV.

His current shows

‘Sruthilayam’ is now in its fourth year and is a platform for both popular and up-and-coming artistes. The episodes are theme-based, comprising concerts and discussions. We are happy that now artistes contact us to be featured in the show. Also, the show could give a platform for many artistes who have not been in the limelight; for instance, artistes such as Trivandrum Harihara Iyer, a veena artiste, and Sankarayya, a composer of yesteryear. ‘Jeevadhara’ is of a different nature altogether. It is about Ayurveda and talks about living in harmony with nature.

Music for all

I launched Sangeethagurukulam, an initiative meant to take music to the common people in 2001. It is now a registered trust. It has Nadavidyalayam, a Facebook initiative under it, which has 1,600 members. Since last year, we have been holding a musical get-together (Sangeeta Satsangam) on the second Saturday of every month at Thanjavur Ammaveedu, West Fort, in the capital city. Each meeting is based around a particular theme and features concerts by a senior artiste, followed by interactions with the audience.

Future projects

I performed in eight states of the United States of America recently, which included concerts and lecture demonstrations. That experience has given me the confidence to work on an initiative to take our music across the globe.

I plan to open a residential music programme under Sangeethagurukulam. Meanwhile, I am working on my new book, Ragalayam. I have brought out a series of books, each accompanied by demonstration CDs – Sreshtasangeetham – An Introduction To Indian Music, Ragam Mohanam, Swarasagaram and Ragam Shankarabharanam.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 9:56:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/Music-for-the-masses/article12553573.ece

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