FRIDAY REVIEW

Laya maestro crosses a golden milestone

KARAIKUDI MANI who has made the art of percussion synonymous with his name was most deservedly felicitated by his disciples for having completed a golden half-century of significant contribution to Carnatic music in the genre of percussion.

Born to T. Ramanatha Iyer and Pattammal at Karaikudi on September 11, 1945, Mani's inherent preference and talent were skilfully honed by K. Sri Rangu Iyengar, Sri T. R. Harihara Sarma (father of the ghatam vidwan T. H. Vinayakaram) and K. M. Vaidyanathan.

Mani's first experience on the concert platform was at the tender age of eight at Karaikudi. His concentration, focus and hard work to excel in his chosen vocation have paid rich dividends, and if he is acknowledged as one of the titans in Laya, it is not by mere chance but by sheer determination and a firm resolve to succeed. A great percussionist in qualitative terms, excellence in all his endeavours — whether it be a Carnatic concert or innovative fusion programme or an exclusive percussionist ensemble — has firmly ensconced him at the first rung of the ladder. His Talavadya CDs have made rasikas and the public more aware of the intricacies and beauty in rhythm, latent in Carnatic music. As an accompanying artiste, he occupies a special place in the elite zone, having provided support to Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, T. K. Rangachary, M.D Ramanathan, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Balamurali Krishna, M. S. Subbulakshmi, D. K. Pattamal, violinist T. N. Krishnan, Lalgudi Jayaraman, flautist N. Ramani, Sikkil Sisters and a host of other musicians belonging to several genres.

The Srutilaya institutions at Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chalakudi and abroad — Germany, England and Australia — render significant service in promoting and propagating South Indian art and culture. His magazine, Layamani Layam, the first copy of which was published nine years ago is an interesting, informative monthly that has become extremely popular. Mani attributes his success and achievement not to himself but to the heartfelt blessings of his preceptor, guru Surajananda.

Titles and awards have been showered on Mani but not one to rest on his laurels, Mani works with evangelical zeal to make the international musical fraternity appreciate and applaud the role of rhythm in any system of music in general, and Carnatic music in particular.

It was only appropriate that at the colourful function on June 12, at the Narada Gana Sabha auditorium a large audience of friends and admirers were present to wish Karaikudi Mani all the best in the future.

His oldest disciple, Swaminathan, presented him with the keys of a Hyundai Accent car from all his sishyas as a mark of affection and respect. The first disciple of Karaikudi Mani, R. Ramesh was the recipient of the latest edition of Layamani Layam. The function ended with a concert of Ranjani and Gayatri.

SULOCHANA PATTABHIRAMAN

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