Yesterday I sang for the Margazhi Maha Utsavam, Jaya TV. Every year I try to take up a new theme to work on compositions that are not much in vogue. My focus has been only on tamil compositions as I feel they have not been given their due. This year I chose the theme “Bharathi Moovar” focussing on the compositions of Kavi Kunjara Bharathi, Mazhavai Chidambara Bharathi & Suddhananda Bharathi.
Kavi Kunjara Bharathi was the grandfather of the other great vaggeyakara Koteeswara Iyer who had composed in all the 72 melakartas. As early as 1915, Koteeswara Iyer had published the lyrics of Kavi Kunjara Bharathi (1810 – 1894). Koteeswara Iyer writes in his preface that he has sung all those songs, but unfortunately he did not publish them with musical notation. Later, KKB’s Azhagar Kuravanji (the popular padham Ivanaro in Kambhoji is part of this) was published in musical notation by Shri Nagamani (son of Koteeswara Iyer) . I know for a fact the Shri TN Seshagopalan has given a full programme for the Tamil Isai Sangam based on the Azhagar Kuravanji and his rendition of Ivanaro was indeed very very special. Later Shri Dandapani Desigar had set the song Siddhi vinayakane of KKB in Jaganmohini and sung it quite often. I was not aware of the MMD tune and I had already set Siddhi vinayakane to the ragam Kalavati (the Tyagaraja Ennadu jootuno version of the ragam), and that is how I sang it yesterday. The 1915 publication does mention the ragam of this song as Bilahari, but I decided to renew the licence that Shri Desigar had used to come with my own version 🙂 The other KKB song that I sang yesterday was Deivam undendru nambu maname in Kalyani. This song is also mentioned as Kalyani but the musical framework that I adopted is just a “cover” version of the great compositions that I have heard in Kalyani! I had not intended to sing Ivanaro yesterday, but as I was getting ready to stop for the Q&A session, Subashri (who probably was not ready with the final list of questions!) asked me to continue, so I just decided to slot that in.
Mazhavai Chidambara Bharathi, a contemporary of Kavi Kunjara Bharathi, was the grandfather of Mazhvarayanenthal Subbarama Bhagavatar on the maternal side. It is said that MSB used to sing many of these compositions in his concerts. I had learnt an MCB song (Kanmaniye solladi in Saranga) from my grand aunt Smt.Rukmini Rajagopalan many years back and used to sing it quite often in concerts. Later I came to know that the Saranga was a GNB tune and that the original was in Kapi. I even remember lsitening to a beautiful slow rendition in Kapi by Tanjavur Sankara Iyer. About 15 years back, I was at Madurai for a concert. An old man named Ramani knocked on my door at the hotel. He actually sang the song Karunai vaitthennai aalamma in Begada and said it was an MCB song and that he was a disciple of Subbarama Bhagavatar. I remembered that it resembeled the Ramaswami SIvan song Kadaikkan vaitthennai aalamma and he said that the MCB was the original and that it was later copied. The Music Academy has published a book on the compositions of MCB in musical notation and that is where I picked up the songs Poomel valarum in Anandabhairavi and Karunai thanthennai in Begada that I sang yesterday. This book also has a nice introduction by the noted Tamil writer Chidambara Subramaniam, who was also a grandson of the composer.
Suddhananda Bharati is an interesting composer and personality. I think he was more of a poet and all his songs have been set to music by others. My Guru Shri KSK has set a number of songs to music. I have sung songs like Aaduguraan kannan in Kapi and Ellaam SIvan seyal in Vasantha in the past. In fact there is a nice version of Ellaam sivan seyal in Kalyani in one of the Annamalai Univ publications, I think set to music by Tanjavur K Ponniah Pillai. I had specifically asked my Guru to set that song up in Vasantha for me to sing. Another is Brindavanam iduvo in Suddha dhanyasi about which I have written earlier. I also came across a book called “Suddhananda Melarnavam” having songs of Suddhananda Bharathi in all the 72 melakarta ragams set to music by Shri TS Raghavan. For yesterday’s concert I had chosen the song Ullam urugi urugi in Kanakangi. Hopefully I’ll be able to sing a few more of these melakarta songs in the years to come. The other song of SB that I sang yesterday was a patriotic viruttham and song from the book “Singa nadham”. I had set the song to the ragam Patdeep which is basically s g m p n / s n d p m g r in the Gowrimanohari scale.
List of compositions sung
1. Siddhi vinayakane – Kalavati – Adi (KKB)
2. Poomel valarum – Anandabhairavi – Adi (MCB)
3. Ullam urugi urugi – Kanakangi – Rupakam (SB)
4. Karunai thanthennai – Begada – M Chapu (MCB)
5. Deivam undendru – Kalyani – Adi (KKB)
6. Ivanaro – Kambhoji – M Chapu (KKB)
7. Vazhiya bharatham – Viruttham – Ragamalika (SB)
8. Enthaai vaazhgenum – Patdeep – Adi (SB)