Music

He danced like MGR!

Mandolin U. Shrinivas. Photo: Bhargavii Mani

Mandolin U. Shrinivas. Photo: Bhargavii Mani

I remember anna readily agreed to talk for our Art@Edge event where, for the first time, he spoke about his journey and his approach to music and life. I had asked him through his brother Rajesh, a good friend, but neither of us was sure if he would consent.

Closer to the date, he began to worry. He wondered why people would want to hear him talk instead of play the mandolin. When he got out of his car, his expression said, ‘Now, what have I gotten myself into?’ But somehow, the scent of incense and a simple flower arrangement for Ganesha comforted him, and he smiled his tension away. It was an incredible evening.

The following morning, he called to ask if I was satisfied! Can anyone be more humble than that?

We met again for a photo shoot of the brothers at our studio. Rajesh and anna arrived on time. I remember his eyes searching for something, and his smile once he spotted the Ganesha in my room.

We play music during a shoot to relax everyone. That morning, anna’s fingers moved to the music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. “What a genius,” were the only words he spoke. He responded to us with a smile, or in monosyllables. I had to break the ice!

“Could you put your hand around anna’s shoulder, Rajesh?” I suggested.

“I’ve never done that,” Rajesh said. “He is my guru more than my brother.”

I risked asking anna and he smiled in agreement.

I still needed him to let his guard down naturally.

“Your favourite food, anna ?”

“I love my mother’s cooking.”

“Do you like watching movies?”

“Yes! MGR’s!” His hands immediately went up in the air, resembling his Thalaivar’s pose.

We promptly played ‘Adho andha paravai pola’ and I dared ask anna if he could dance like MGR. He actually did! Through the rest of the day, laughing, he was one among us. It’s how we will remember and cherish him for the rest of our lives.

(The writer Bhargavii Mani is an Experiential Designer and Photographer, owner of Edge Design House and Eka Portraiture. She will be having her first solo exhibition featuring classical performing artists’ portraits later this year.Photo by Bhargavii Mani)


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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 2:33:55 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/he-danced-like-mgr/article6445580.ece