Poetry’s tryst with music

In her rather poetic speech, president of the 11th Sugama Sangeeta conference, Rathnamala Prakash, making a strong case for the Sugama Sangeeta form quoted veteran musician M. Balamurali Krishna: “Light music is that which gives light.” She went on to quote the poet Pu.Ti. Narasimhachar, who was reacting to someone who called it a ‘diploma’: “It is post-graduate diploma.” It is no surprise that the form elicited such response; Sugama Sangeeta has enjoyed the warmth and support of every Kannadiga and connoisseur of music, apart from its huge popularity. It continues to do so, going by the reception the Sugama Sangeeta Sammelana received from people of all quarters of life.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, renowned writer Vaidehi said that bhavageethe had a big role to play in taking the poet’s work to the people. “Many of the poems made a huge impact on me when they came in the form of bhavageethes,” said Vaidehi, humming K.S. Narasimha Swamy’s poem “Modala Dina Mouna”, immortalised by Ratnamala Prakash. Extolling the virtues of Ratnamala as a musician, Vaidehi felt that Ratnamala’s sensitivity to song and lyric was extraordinary. “In fact, just scan through the pages of Sugama Sangeeta’s past and you realise that it is women who have been at the forefront of singing sugama sangeeta.” Naming legendary singers like Jayavantidevi Hirebett, Anuradha Dhareshwar, Shyamala Jahagirdaar, C.K. Tara, H.R. Leelavathi and others, “we cannot afford to forget their contribution. It is sad that no one remembers Mohan Kumari and Sohan Kumari, who, for decades sang with Kalinga Rao.” She urged the president of the Sugama Sangeetha Parishath, Y.K. Muddukrishna to bring out a book on women in sugama sangeeta.

“It is hardly a surprise that K.S. Narasimha Swamy called Ratnamala Prakash ‘Parveen Sultana of Karnataka’. Similar to the great Hindustani musician, she is an audio visual delight,” remarked poet B.R. Lakshman Rao. “Though Ratnamala got opportunities from the film world, she stayed with Sugama Sangeeta, which was a fortunate thing to happen.”

An interesting session on the second day was “Mareyalarada Mahaneeyaru”, conducted by Malathi Sharma and Srinivasa Kappanna. It was an interactive programme that tried to bring back memories of the past. Questions like when did laghu sangeeta become sugama sangeeta? What is the difference between the two? Do you remember which was the first bhavageethe that was broadcast on AIR? Can you recall the film songs on which early bhavageethes were based?.... so on and so forth. The audience participation was enthusiastic and when the discussion turned to P. Kalinga Rao, Mysore Ananthaswamy, Balappa Hukkeri and Ashwath, everyone had a story to tell.

The importance of All India Radio in taking Sugama Sangeeta to every corner of the state became central to the discussion. Poet H.S. Venkatesh Murthy had an interesting incident to narrate. Once, when G.S. Shivarudrappa was travelling to Shimoga, he stopped for lunch at Kadur. On the radio, his poem “Udugana Veshstita…” composed by Padmacharan was playing. He was so moved by the beauty of the song, that he had apparently said, “When all the modern poets have shunned me, the world of sugama sangeeta has made me a poet all over again.” That the song went on to become iconic, is now history. There were poetry reading sessions along with their musical renditions. Music troupes from all parts of Karnataka rendered group songs. The evenings had sugama sangeeta concerts which were well attended by general public, poets, musicians and composers.

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 4:08:24 PM |

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