Every year I bring some clay and make my own Ganesha for Ganesha Chathurthi. This year I thought differently. I got Kasturi who works at Dakshinachitra to come home and make me a palmleaf ganesha. See the pictures. which show the Ganesha, Ganesha with Anjana and Raghav my neighbours who have adopted me as their third grandmother and Kasturi with her work.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I just went and bought Jaswant Singh's book on Jinnah. I would probably have ignored it or read it later if the BJP had not expelled him or banned the book. Every ban and controversy only helps a book. There are always many sides to a story. Several angles keep propping up every now and then and truth keeps getting revealed. truth, Gandhi said is dynamic so he never stuck to the same view after he got more information. Sometimes he went back to his earlier position on an issue after examining it in several positions sometimes changed his opinion. He always said take my latest comment as the currently held, it may change later when examined in a better light. So BJP is only helping Jaswant Singh. He must be laughing inside as he laments outside. They are only helping to keep him and his book in the news. He should be thanking the BJP for expelling him and banning the book.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
So now it is Shah Rukh Khan. Why cant we let people do their job and not scream from the roof tops that our egos are hurt when our heroes are searched or questioned in airports? Even Edward Kennedy was not recognised and he was searched. I came home after working with 200 children and with throat sore and switched on the tv for some news. Every Indian news channel had Shah Rukh Khan live talking about why they did not take his thumb print, why they did not do retina photo etc. While he was saying he did not mind being asked questions, a young reporter kept asking him how he felt being detained for one hour when the whole country was celebrating independence day! I am sure she has never asked how some girls are holed up in Kamathipura with no freedom of movement, how there is bonded labour in the country she is hurt that Shah Rukh Khan was denied freedom for one hour!!! she is bonded and has no freedom of intelligence poor girl! Go get some education girl. There was another who asked Salman Khan that he had said he was Kaminey in a film and to explain himself. She kept saying apne kaha.. It was a dialogue that he was made to speak girl. grow up. All it takes for the underworld is to make a film like Munnabhai for its own to be treated like the Mahatma. How sold we are to films as a nation. This is what shames me not airport searches and questionings.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Masgazine Sunday, May 24, 2009
Chords of passion
On an one-point mission to bring the piano into mainstream Carnatic music, Anil Srinivasan talks about how he plans to do so.
Photo: R. Ragu Reaching out with music: Anil Srinivasan.
There are two pianos in Kalakshetra’s instruments room, both of which ought to be considered national treasures. One belonged to M.S. Subbulakshmi and the other to Rukmini Devi Arundale. MS is said to have first sung Kurai onrum illai and Hari tum haro to the accompaniment of the piano at her Kalki Gardens home. “It is an old Stein,” gushes young pianist Anil Srinivasan. “Rukmini Devi had a bigger one. Both are more than a century old. What trouble it must have been to get them to India from Europe.”
Leela Samson, director of Kalakshetra, is getting them restored and Anil hopes to play on them soon. “A musical instrument should never be kept idle,” says Leela Samson. “It should be played on.” Popular but alien
The piano is considered an alien instrument, though it has been in the popular psyche of Indians for decades. The movie industry brought the piano into the living room of middle class families as several popular songs (even with heavy classical bent) have used the piano. “Why do people call it an alien instrument?” wonders Anil Srinivasan who is on a mission to bring the piano into mainstream Carnatic idiom. “The violin has been so well adapted to Carnatic music. So why not the piano? A musical instrument does not have a nationality. In fact the santoor is the mother of the piano.”
Anil says the piano has been used by great musicians like Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar and Papanasam Sivan. There was a private performance of T. Brinda singing while being accompanied on the piano. In fact Maurice Delage (1879-1961), the French composer and pianist, was highly influenced by Indian classical music and even composed a Navaragamalika composition “Ramalinga Swami Arulpa” with Coimbatore Thayi, a famous Devadasi singer. He did this with a “prepared piano” (the score specifies that a piece of cardboard be placed under the strings of the B-flat in the second line of the bass clef to dampen the sound, imitating the sound of an Indian drum.)
“A musician in love with music; writer in love with writing; teacher in love with teaching; consultant in love with consulting”: Anil Srinivasan is talking about himself. Passion is this young man’s most visible trait. After an MBA and Ph.D. in Management from Columbia University in New York, Anil decided to return to Chennai to get into the Carnatic music milieu in its headquarters. “This is my one-point agenda,” he says with emphasis.
That brings memories of a magical evening flooding back. The main hall of J. Krishnamurthy Foundation was filled to capacity. The crowd had spilled over to the corridors; people were even sitting on the staircase. “Gardens in The Rains” was a unique programme featuring piano and violin in Carnatic music. Subtle lighting focused on the violinist Lalgudi G.J.R.Krishnan who sat separately from Purushottam who played the kanjira.
Netizens are still speaking about that evening. “For people standing outside, the breeze complemented the music beautifully. It was almost as if nature lent a hand to the evening,” says one blogger. Another comments, “The pieces were well chosen in ragas that allowed the use of flat notes. I thought Krishnan played brilliantly, his saramathi alapana was just exquisite ... Anil provided amazing support, amrithavarshini sounds nice in a piano! He also played a flash of vasantha during amrithavarshini, which was a nice contrast. Purusotham (on the kanjira) joined in at the start of amrithavarshini and provided good support. The mand tillana (a masterpiece of Lalgudi G.Jayaraman seemed even grander in this form. A refreshing attempt; hopefully there will be more!”Musical experiments
Anil begins to explain. “It was a celebration of two instruments originally from Italy and especially in Carnatic music. The Krishnamurthy Foundation concert was very special as it was an alumnus of the KFI school who first planted the idea of collaborative concerts with Carnatic vocalists and instrumentalists,” says Anil. In New York, while Anil was doing his Ph.D. in management, he played the piano as his friend C.P. Sanjay sang along in an informal gathering. That sowed the ground for further experiments. “The Krishnamurthy Foundation concert also happened in the music season and that is very special for a musician.”
Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Anil Srinivasan played again at Dakshinachitra Heritage Centre but without percussion support. “The ambience made us feel like we were playing in a Roman ancient theatre. The breeze and the open sky above lent a remarkable charm to the concert and both Krishnan and I were more mature in our interaction here.”
“It was a very different aesthetic experience” says Krishnan. “What was best about this experience was that nothing was overdone. It was very serene and helped the audience to see the nuances of both instruments. We were both trying to complement each other and not imitate or follow one another. There are some portions where Anil could create using sheer chord. He does not disturb the raga like a filmi composition would by giving chord.”
“The experience was significant,” continues Krishnan “because Anil knows Carnatic music. So nothing jarred. After our first performance at Krishnamurthy Foundation we found ourselves going deeper into music at Dakshinachitra. We were able to explore much more…”
They agree that any experimental exploration cannot be done without studying both systems in the original. “Music is as good as the strength of the collaborators,” says Anil “One must be thorough about one’s music. One cannot just sit and jam. Carnatic music, though structured and based on lyrics, can touch even those who do not understand the words.”
This was amply demonstrated during a concert in Los Angeles where Anil Srinivasan performed with vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan. An almost totally non-Indian audience asked for encore. “It must have been the vibration of the words conveyed through music. Integrity is what matters most,” says Anil.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
This is Priya Nagesh. A wonderful discovery. She studied in PS senior secondary school where I taught in its first 9 years. Priya dropped out of college to work in alternatie education, non formal sector and is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi in his education and development from the grass root ideas. Self taught, she writes great reports and does web design etc. She married Krishnan who also studied in PSSS and was sent out as being too restless. Krishnan is a guy for organic farming and does whole sale marketting of organic produce, is a wizard at computers and has just become my student in spinning.
Priya Nagesh invited me to do a session as part of a two day nayi talim workshop that she organised in Madurai. It turned out to be an hour and half away from Madurai in a place called Sevayur where CCD has created a man made forest and helping villagers around to be gatherers of raw materials for herbal medicinal use. The place is wonderful and took my breath away by its sheer scale and the non formal way it works. Thousnads of women who are the main benificiaries of this programme came for lunch. great experience. was so happy to meet Meenakshi of Puvidham. She is just unbelievable.