His own tune

Madurai G.S. Mani. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao   | Photo Credit: R_Shivaji Rao

Senior vocalist and composer Madurai G.S. Mani's association with New Delhi goes back to the early 1950s. A young Mani — he was 19 then, came to the Capital in search of a job and those four years that he lived in the city, became the “formative years” of his career as a musician. Mani, in New Delhi to perform in the 15th Lakshminarashima Jayanthi Utsavam organised by Shree Vishnu Sahasranama Namasankirtana Mandali recently, fondly recalls the times, “My maternal uncle was a Member of Parliament in the early 1950s. Looking for a job, I landed in Delhi, I got one and lived here for four years. I got introduced to many Hindustani musicians here during that s time. Those years of stay in Delhi had shaped me and caused a big change in my life.”

Having called back by his father to his home town Madurai, Mani went back to become an agriculturist. He, however, moved to Chennai after some time where he worked with M. S. Viswanathan, a popular music director of south Indian films those days, as an associate music director for about ten years. As the demand for Carnatic music was more, Mani started off as a full-fledged vocalist and composer of Carnatic music. Mani has about 400 compositions in Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit under his name today and uses ‘Rajapoojitha' as his mudra. The vocalist bestows all the credit for his music to his family background. “My mother, Sampoornam Ammal, was my first guru. I remember singing all the music lessons taught to my elder sister just by hearing them. Subsequently, I learnt from Jalatharangam Babu Iyengar and took advanced training from Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavatar. I have learnt Hindustani music too and I am a big fan of the qawwali form.”

Composing journey

How did Mani get in to composing Carnatic songs? “When I sing a raga, I get new phraseology which has not been sung by others. In order to house these I needed sahityam (lyrics) and that prompted me to go for my own lyrics. I have great love for Tamil language, it is the most brilliant and richest language in the world. I enjoy composing in Tamil,” he says. Mani narrates a pleasant incident related to one of his popular songs “Thorana Pandalile”, which he composed in raga Brindavana Saranga. “I have described the celestial wedding of Devi Meenakshi in this song. It is now sung in many marriages. Once, I attended a marriage in which this song was being sung by a set of women. A person sitting next to me waxed eloquent on how wonderful it is without knowing that I had composed it.” Did Mani reveal his identity? “Why should I? I simply said I also think so,” quips Mani. Does he draw a parallel between the two forms of music he has forayed into — Carnatic and light music? Avers Mani, “Carnatic music is full of technicalities, strict grammar has to be adhered to. Light music is not like that, you have to be creative enough to the situation. However, because it is light music, one should not underestimate it and should not treat it lightly.” Mani, now at the age of 77, is a consultant and advisor to many present-day music directors of Tamil cinema. So what does the veteran think about today's film music? “It has gone too mechanised but the orchestration has developed well,” he says, signing off.

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Printable version | Oct 14, 2021 2:47:51 AM |

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