Music

Rajan and MDR concert

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The mesmeric voice of MDR could make people miss trains...

Commuter Rajan was at Victoria Terminus, Mumbai, to catch a train to return home. He was in a rush to get a copy of The Evening News without which his daily commute to his suburban Bandra would be meaningless. He missed one fast train in his hurry to grab a copy of the paper.

In the train, his eyes went to the ‘Your Stars’ column that brought a fresh breeze in his daily life. The sunny side of the column was that it predicted a mixture of both the good and the bad. That evening's forecast was “your promotion is being postponed”. The next sentence brought cheer to Commuter Rajan – “In recognition of your services, the authorities are considering a foreign posting for you.” Rajan knew this consideration was in the air and the forecast seemed only to confirm it.

Now Rajan was ready for the screaming headline. Nothing sensational only the expected -- fuel prices likely to go. But Commuter Rajan was not worried about it as he was a lifetime train traveller.

Next Rajan turned to the section on art and culture. For the South Indians living in Bombay if the 1960s and 1970s, the ‘Music Critic’ column on Carnatic music was a blessing. Commuter Rajan knew that the columnist had a special admiration for M.D. Ramanathan’s (MDR) music. The review in front of Rajan was no exception. The heading read “MDR’s phenomenal concert” and Music Critic had written about MDR to say how the musician with his marble voice rolling out like a tidal wave sang ‘Vatapi Ganapathim’ (Hamsadhwani). And then delineating the various nuances of Khambodi before presenting Tyagaraja's ‘O Rangasayee’, the voice travelling in slow speed from the lower bass to the high octaves. Violinist M.S. Gopalakrishnan (MSG) reproduced MDR's Khambodi with a glimmering aura and T.V. Gopalakrishnan (TVG) with his silken touch and rippling phrases on the mridangam gave subdued but firm support.

Rajan had heard that the MDR-MSG-TVG was a dream combination and the Music Critic had brought out the force of this triumvirate and wrote in the last para: ‘Just as the audience thought it was time to leave, MDR with a glorious phrase started Sri Raga to tell the rasikas that it was not yet time to leave.’

At the end of the review there was good news for Commuter Rajan. The last para said that despite heavy teaching pressures at Kalakshetra, Chennai, MDR had agreed to give a second concert that weekend.

Commuter Rajan immediately made up his mind to attend that concert and decided to take Malini with him. Rajan knew that she had a special liking for the way MDR sang in vilambit kala Syama Sastri’s swarajati in Bhairavi ‘Amba Kamakshi.’ He hoped the musician would sing either the Bhairavi Viriboni varnam or the swarajati.

Commuter Rajan was still three stations away from Bandra and thought he would be able to crack the crossword. Bandra station arrived and he rushed to his residence in Zarin Lodge. As he neared home, Commuter Rajan saw a worried Malini standing near the gate. The words in Tamil came forth immediately from Malini: Why so much delay? Was there an accident?

Commuter Rajan weakly replied, “I missed a fast train in my rush to grab a copy of The Evening News.” Malini said, “You always delay things, why don't you get the paper well in time?”

Commuter Rajan was happy to be home.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 1:00:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/rajan-and-mdr-concert/article3657632.ece

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