Music & Dance Music

The aesthete in Aruna Sairam

Aruna Sairam. Photos: Courtesy Aruna Sairam

Aruna Sairam. Photos: Courtesy Aruna Sairam  

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Having missed a Season, the singer returns with renewed energy and a fresh repertoire.

“The December Season never allows you to rest on your laurels. Every approaching December means time to push boundaries and scale greater heights, musically,” says Aruna Sairam by way of her opening remarks during a chat.

Having been sorely missed by rasikas last Season (her reason for being away were personal), Aruna is back in the scene, preparing for a not-too-grinding schedule. “I have about seven concerts lined up, beginning December 7 (Margazhi Mahotsav). I believe that with lesser number of concerts, you achieve two-fold goals – you can concentrate and do a better job and also, your rasika base will be strong,” says the veteran, who is a practitioner of the evocative yet powerful T. Brinda bani.

Even as she talks about this special time in the city, memories flood her mind. “I recall coming here when I was just eight or nine. My parents would rent a small flat for a week or more. Those days, stalwarts such as Papanasam Sivan and Rukmini Ramani would do ‘vidhi bhajanai’ at seven in the morning on the streets of Mylapore. The air would be filled with piety; it was so infectious.” And then the family would head towards the Music Academy for the 9 a.m. lec-dems and thematic talks. “One of the most profound lectures I heard was the one by Balasaraswathi. For 45 minutes, she showcased various abhinaya options for just three words – ‘Vaari Mudindha Kuzhal. That lec-dem is legend.”

Another special moment came when Aruna’s guru Brindamma was feted with the Sangita Kalanidhi. “I was with her all the time. It was so special. Those days, I heard a lot more music than I sang. It was a beautiful time when I learnt, imbibed and enjoyed.”

For the teenaged Aruna, her biggest thrill came when the great Maharajapuram Santhanam spotted her in the corridor one evening. Aruna remembers, “He paused and spoke to me. ‘You are Aurna, right? How is your practice going? Sing with your heart.’ I still remember how tongue-tied I was, and yes, I could not sleep for a few days, so excited was I!”

That Aruna made her Season debut in 1973 is well known. But what many do not know is that she had initially applied for the competition. “My guru casually mentioned that it might help if I got a chance to perform. And the next thing we know, I was informed that my name was there in the Junior slot. So I withdrew my application from the competition and sang at the Academy.” And the rest, as they say, is history!

But what is interesting to note is that Aruna never thought she would become a professional musician. “What changed my mind was listening to the legendary Trio – D.K. Pattammal, M.S. Subbulakshmi and M.L. Vasanthakumari. Their stage presence, charisma and their music proved to be a great inspiration. In way, they led me to what I have become today.”

Like always, rasikas can expect an eclectic fare from Aruna -- some interesting RTPs, unusual kritis in ghana ragas interspersed with popular and time-tested ragas, and of course, her light classical pieces.

Welcome back, Aruna Sairam!

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2019 9:06:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/the-aesthete-in-aruna-sairam/article6651669.ece

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