Arasala Kanyakumari was presented the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by two Sabhas, Shanmukhapriya and Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha, at a function held recently at Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai.
A. Kanyakumari (Kanya to those intimate to her) was a violinist dedicated toM.L. Vasanthakumari, by thought, word and deed, as she was to the violin itself. The award function commenced with an invocation by Vishruthi Girish. Brinda Venkatramanan (of Shanmukhapriya) welcomed the dignitaries on stage individually, the audience and members of the press who had gathered. Following this an abridged version of an audio-visual presentation - a film - titled ‘Kanyakumari - Wedded to the Violin,’ produced by Shanmukhapriya and directed by S.B. Khanthan, was screened.
The film turned out to be comprehensive in many ways. It drew spontaneous rounds of applause as it was being screened. The film had rich and deserving tributes from Kanya’s contemporaries, past masters, learners, Kanya’s students, fellow accompanists, many eminent music scholars and academicians from India and abroad. It had endearing quotes from those who preferred to call her Kanya, persons who were close to her and had also occupied the dais along with her - Charumathi Ramachandran, Sudha Ragunathan, Mannargudi Easwaran, Kadri Gopalnath and Embar Kannan. It made lofty mention of her parents, her first guru, the incomparable Ivaturi Vijayeswara Rao, and her immediate next guru M. Chandrasekaran.
Kanyakumari‘s violin performances came wafting through both as fillers and “main items” and her responses to the tributes received were neatly interspersed in the film and these came in a properly sequenced and in a wholly satisfying manner.
A few illustrative references from the film are mentioned here: Pappu Venugopal Rao, secretary, The Music Academy, traced Kanya’s place of origin, Vijayanagaram and her journey/quest to Chennai, the capital city of Carnatic music, and also made exalted mention of how Kanyakumari sought and achieved the ‘vocalisation’ of the violin. Kanyakumari thanked all those who showered encomiums on her. She made special mention about an MLV concert that had to take place in Delhi. There was a technical objection in the grade-status of Kanya who was to accompany MLV. Kanya was yet to attain the requisite grade. MLV had said this - “if that is the case let Kanya attain that position officially and my recording can be done at that time, only and only with her, not now.” Finally the concert went on “AIR” with Kanya as the accompanist on the very day it was scheduled. MLV had won her way and Kanya too. “How many people in this world would act with such integrity and warmth?” Kanya asked this and answered “none would.”
Felicitations for Kanya
The film was followed by the award function and offering of felicitations. N. Murali, president, The Music Academy, who presided over the function, gave away the award. Mr. Murali was all praise for the prime movers of this function - Brinda (Shanmukhapriya) and Vasantha (Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha). He called the awardee, Kanyakumari, as a versatile violinist.
For P.S. Narayanasamy, who was the chief guest, it was like attending a function to felicitate his own daughter. N.V. Subramanian complimented Kanyakumari for her approach that became a successful attempt at integrating the virtuosity of the instrument and simultaneously making it represent our cultural tradition. Prof. T.R. Subramaniam mentioned that Kanyakumari had entered the pages of history as a book on the Vijayanagaram Music Tradition had mentioned her name along with other luminaries who belonged to this valued tradition. Badam Madhava Rao said he travelled from Andhra to attend this function, as he felt that it was his duty to be present among a gathering of people who were coming together to honour “art” per se’ and an “artist” in particular.
An emotional Kanyakumari said words could not describe her state of mind. All her brilliance, if any, was on account of her gurus and MLV and her well-wishers and disciples. Sanjeev proposed a vote of thanks.
The award function had an “eloquent compere” in Isaikavi Ramanan whose spur-of-the-moment responses were inimitable.