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Vanna maadangal – Ragamalika – Periazhwar pasuram

Mr Sivaramakrishnan was quite well known to hardcore carnatic music lovers in Madras. He had an extraordinary collection of spool tapes and shared them very generously. Once my uncle Ramesh and me were listening to a TM Thiagarajan concert in his place. That was the first time I came across this ragamalika by Periyazhwar. It was beautifully set to music by TMT in Mohanam, Kanada, Hamsanandi & Surati. This song stayed in my memory and over time I learnt up the song, trying to get it into my system exactly as how TMT sang it. When I was younger, the challenge when learning compositions from maestros’ renditions was always to retain as close to the original as possible. My own additions /changes came upon much later when I sang them regularly in concerts. TMT was a master composer of music and there is a whole treasure of his works printed, published and not sung often. I am a big fan of his composing style and even though he and my Guru KSK were kind of competitive rivals, they had huge respect for each other and were great friends as well. Coming to this piece, the highlight in TMT’s genius is his handling of the Hamsanandi where words begin in the dhavatam, and delays the onset of the rishabham. I still get goosebumps when I remember hearing TMT sing it the first time and gliding in to the rishabham to show everyone it is Hamsanandi and not Sunadavinodini. The first time I sang it was in one of my early Margazhi Maha Utsavam concerts. An elderly lady came up to me and said “Vanna maadangal was exactly like my Guru TMT!” The lady happens to be the aunt of my good friend and carnatic music crazy audiophile Yessel Narasimhan.


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