Music

The GNB-MLV bond

Mandolin Shrinivas was, and is one of a kind, a special creation of God. Photo: Bhargavii Mani

Mandolin Shrinivas was, and is one of a kind, a special creation of God. Photo: Bhargavii Mani

The charming smile, a face shining with musical intellect, fingers so deft and nimble, delivering unimaginable notes from the tiny mandolin – everything came to an abrupt end with the sudden demise of a prodigy on September 19.

With him goes old-fashioned courtesy, whole-hearted appreciation of good music from others, a rare thirst for musical knowledge and the capacity to infuse Carnatic music with unthinkable freshness.

Enna naadam, ” said my 96-year-old grandmother, of the boy player. His strong leaning towards the GNB-MLV style of music brought about our strong friendship. Any doubt in music I would call him and he always had the answer.

I would make demands without any hesitation -- I thillanas and Dikshitar kritis -- and he would always oblige. “I’ve learnt a special Dikshitar kriti for you, in Brindavana Saranga,” he told me, promising to play it in a concert soon. I cannot believe that he will not be doing so.

While I was making the DVD, ‘GNB - Legend Immortal,’ Shrinivas played and spoke on GNB‘s style of music for it. ‘My Dikshitar & Devi’ saw an outstanding Kumudakriya by him, and his playing raga Nasamani in the docu. I had requested him for raga Saramati, with just the tambura accompanying him, for my presentation on Ramayana. He had it recorded in his studio. I would request his presence for a function or documentary effort — he would note the day and time and say “Done, I’m there.” He never needed a reminder.

A dear brother is gone, one whose music was so extraordinary, and whose own musical appreciation so vast.

We both shared a love for nagaswaram genius T.N. Rajarathinam Pillai. “Please make a docu on TNR,” he would often say. “He is God, that’s all,” Shrinivas would say, and wait impatiently for me to leave, so he could listen to TNR recording I had just given him.

A message would come late at night – “Thank you so much for the wonderful gift. I’m listening to TNR’s Jayantasri. No words to tell. I don’t know how he plays.” Shrinivas made my GNB Centenary book release function more special, by performing a jugalbandi with Lalgudi GJR Krishnan, in the presence of Lalgudi Jayaraman.

“I don’t have too much money to give you for this,” I said. “Did I ask you for money?” he scolded me. Playing GNB compositions and ending with Lalgudi’s Vaasanthi thillana brought tears to Lalgudi mama’s eyes — “Only Shrinivas can play like this,” he said.

After the event, we all partook of a homely feast, which had Shrinivas’s favourite puliodarai and vathakuzhambu. I never knew him speak badly of anyone, and his faith in Kanchi Paramacharya was supreme.

Mandolin Shrinivas — gone in a flash, like his wonderful raga essays in a flash in his RTPs. He would always choose some rare raga.

Music was his life, a life sadly extinguished. One thing is certain — Mandolin Shrinivas was, and is one of a kind, a special creation of God.

Thank you, Shrinivas ji, for all your melody and kindness.


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Printable version | Jul 2, 2022 5:59:09 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/the-gnbmlv-bond/article6445556.ece