GN Balasubramaniam documentary “Isai Vaseekaran”

Almost thirty years after the GNB Era, it feels so promising to listen to a documentary that not only talks about the person but also stresses on his music. How do you define a legend? I ended up defining a legend as someone synonymous to GNB. I felt that after “MGR” these three letters are the most famous.

An inspiration is drawn by the present generation musician from GNB and it is very evident by almost so many famous artists praising about a single musician which is very rare today. Starting from Mridangam Legend, Sri. Umayalpuram K Sivaraman, T M Krishna, Sanjay Subramaniam, Lalgudi Jayaraman etc, from people who have listened to GNB live to people who listen to his cassettes and CDs talk so much about his intellectual music.  Good narration by Sri. Madhuvanthi Arun, gave a lot of information that added clarity of the viewers of the documentary about the legend.

Yes, there are only two types of singers. One is GNB and the other is rest of the world. He clearly left his foot prints for others to follow. The post GNB Era looks up to him as a bench mark. He was not only traditional but also experimental with his music. He was quick and was the king of his trade. Even before technology era started, he was a brand ambassador for radio manufacturing companies and did leave a reminder a cinema as well.

A musician who was inspired by veterans like Musiri Subramania Iyer, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar and Tiger Varadhachariar made a mark for himself and became a musical legend. The director and the production house deserves a pat as they bring out his musical journey very well. Yes, it indeed changed my mind set of a musical documentary.


Padma Subrahmaniam “Karana Prakaranam”

When we think of “dance”, what comes to our mind? A beautiful woman, adorned with intricate jewelry and make up, swaying gracefully to the mesmerizing tunes in the background. She wants to say something, express something. Something deep within herself, that she is trying to bring out and flaunt to the rest of the world. When we think in “names”, a famous, world class dancer comes to our mind – Padma Subrahmanyam.

Padma’s relationship with dance goes a long way. She has strived to keep the fiery passion of dance alive, hoping the fire would catch on to those around her. But her commitment towards the art is far beyond her talent alone. She has done immense research in this versatile field, the result of which is the well known “Karana Prakaranam”. The “Karana Prakaranam” portrays dance as a language. And by language, I clearly mean it has syntax, semantics, codes, grammar and deep meaning. This language is common to the continent of Asia, especially India.

This particular work of Padma’s, serves as a guide to train the body, through a pedagogy system rooting from the universally followed dance code. The exquisite piece comprises of 108 Karanas (the basic units of dance) and Marga (grammar), portrayed with relevant sculptures dispersed through out it. The superimposition of the sculptures over Padma’s movements seem to convince the viewer that karanas are not mere poses, but intricate and graceful movements, with the ‘conjoining of hands and feet in dance’ in perfect conformity to the tenets of the Natyasastra.

Choreographed by Jatayu Moksham, this piece sends out a distinct message – “One can march from the past to the future, allowing for abundance of creativity without the loss of one’s aesthetic roots”.

Padma’s cross cultural research allows us to perceive dance in a more broader and respectable light. Having received numerous awards for her contributions and talent, she continues to keep the flame of dance burning bright.

Marghazhi Raagam by TM Krishna & Bombay Jayashri

“Oh no! I missed it!” – This is for those of you who have been too occupied with life. I’m sure there have been times when you music lovers might have planned to attend a concert and later missed it for various reasons. And others, just kindling interest in the art, wishing you could go back to the old days to listen to some of the most exquisite pieces by various artists.

Your “I wish I could” days are over because the soothing lighting and aesthetic ambience that attracts us music lovers to theatres has been brought live to you on screen in the name of “Margazhi Raagam”. This special collector’s edition DVD has not only attracted national audiences but international too.

The presentation and digital technology used has given it an elite touch, bringing out the real essence of the concerts performed. The ravishing performance of  T.M Krishna and Bombay Jayashri keeps the viewers aghast. It has been said by the U.S  Consul-General Mr. Andrew T Simkin that “Margazhi Raagam” was one of the most unique ways to kindle the interest in the carnatic music tradition, internationally. He felt the technology that was used in the movie was exceptional and the clarity of the performance was as good as digital films in the making.

The famous director, Mr Mani Ratnam has voiced out that the experience was entirely new and enriching. The most challenging part about creating such a film was to mould the visual element into the music. “ An audio that has high ratings is obviously expected to have an equally if not a better video to support it”, he said.

Feature films are definitely a good way to promote art and performance, this movie being a trendsetter in encouraging more performing arts to take up cinema as their medium of promotion.

Hyderabad Brothers “Chidanandam”

Imagine a world of art. A world where music is a language. A world where Raagas are a medium of communication. If you want such an experience, I introduce you to the world of the Hyderabad Brothers namely D. Seshachari and D. Raghavachari. The two musicians are among the greatest and most sought after players today, their perfect technique, deep knowledge and fertile creativity being their assets. Their synchronous, yet versatile concerts comprising of the new and rare composition of a variety of composers, arouses ones senses. The Hyderabad Brothers are very well known for their synchronous rhythm and classic renditions. They complement each other miraculously. Seshachari’s deep, resonant voice and the softer, mellow voice of Raghavachari, blend well to melodious effect raising the concert experience to unprecedented heights.

S. Varadarajan, a seasonal violinist, also the author of a number of essays on ragas and musical themes, shows his vigor in this piece. The Taniavarthanam performed by K.V.Prasad and V.Suresh is well structured, yet has its own emotional rises and falls. Ghana ragas such as Kalyani, Dhanyasi, Sindhubhairavi, Muthuswamy Dikshithar’s masterpiece in the raga Bhupalam, Sadachaleswaram find their place in their concert followed by a shimmering alapana. From songs praising the great Lord Shiva to hymns praising the beauty of his companion, their tunes are truly masterpieces.

Chidambaram Shri Sabapathy Sangeetha Gana Sabha has been the proud organizer of numerous musical concerts during Maha Sivarathri. It is a platform for upcoming musicians to prove their talent. For those of you who want to experience this, tune into the Musical Festival at Chidambaram for a ravishing concert by the Hyderabad brothers followed by other top ranked artists.

It’s been said that “music is the true way to reach one’s heart”. The Hyderabad brothers back this saying to the fullest. A must-hear for sure! This album is released by Swathi Sanskriti series.

G N Balasubramaniam – Sangeethamrutham

Referred fondly as GNB, Shri.G.N.Balasubramaniam was an eminent vocalist who carved a niche for himself at a period which was thronged by several famous musicians. His divine, bracing, resonant and clear voice coupled with brisk brikas and refreshing kritis were the factors which were particularly looked upon by his admirers. His unique style, innovations in sruthis, unmatched tempo and excellent delivery made him a unique credit to the World of Music. His gifted voice would traverse the three octaves and the three ‘kalas’ with ease. His voice was as clear as a crystal which perfectly kindled the musical waves rendering a perfect blend of Carnatic Music agreeing with all Instruments and Vocalists. His brikas were simply mind-blowing. The best part about GNB was that he was always open to new ideas. Many recollect GNB accepting criticism with a smile and constantly improving his music. He was closely related and had the highest respect for Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar, the senior artiste of eminence. He had a partiality for Thodi, Kalyani and Kamboji and for Andolika, Nalinakanti, Vasantabairavi, Jothiswarupini, etc. His able disciple, Trichur V.Ramachandran states that his master’s style was essentially of a madhyamakala which sustained the interest of the audience.



GNB had done nearly 250 compositions in sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil in traditional and his own invented ragas like Chandrahasita, Sivasakti, Amrita Behag, etc., Seventy Five  had been published. Apart from Professional Singing GNB was a perfect gentleman and a man of values and ethics. He used to return the nominal honoraria he got from the Music Academy as donation. A further feature of his concerts was that he would review the performances of his accompanists and his own. His joy would be immense at the excellence of others. He was always a great source of encouragement to budding musicians who got enormous and vital inputs from him.GNB was a multifaceted personality. He played the lead role of Dushyant in the famous Tamil film ‘Sakuntala’ in which another great musician, M.S.Subbulakshmi was the heroine. He had played the role of ‘Narada’ in the films Bhama Vijayam and Sathi Anasuya. Udayanan, Vasavadatha is another film in which he had acted.  He was also an ardent fan of Ustad Bismillah Khan.

Sangeethamrutham is a scintillating collection of GNB’s masterpieces. The album is  further beautified by Lalgudi G. Jayaraman’s Violin and  Palghat Raghu’s Mridangam. An artistic portrayal of Abogi followed by an excellent exposition of Kalyani, are added attractions of this album. The Album encompasses four discs containing several evergreen hits as Ninukori(Varnam) , Vatapo Ganapathim. he Ragamalika Viruttam is soul Stirring. The specialty of this concert is the coming together of the three Legends of Carnatic music. The soul-stirring melodies of Thyagaraja simply purify the heart of the listener thereby rendering complete peace and harmony.

This Album has been facilitated for release by G.B.Bhuvaneswaran (son of G.N.Balasubramaniam) and Krishna Gana Sabha during the Birth Centenary Celebration of G.N.B conducted by the Sabha on 24/10/2009.

Varishtha – Sri. K.V. Narayanaswamy

The Late K.V. Narayanaswamy, first Indian to be awarded a Fulbright grant in the field of music was a very illustrious Carnatic musician. K.V. Narayanaswamy was considered the torch bearer of the Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar tradition. He has many laurels to his name such as the title of Sangeetha Kalanidhi from the Madras Music Academy, Padma Sri Award and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

He gave a lot of attention to all aspects of Carnatic music while singing such as perfect articulation of lyrics, sruthi suddha, bhavam, innovation and creativity. He has given concerts both in India and abroad and has charmed music lovers all over the world with his brilliant spell of music. His hold over the classical music and his sweet voice enthralled his audience and won him a lot of disciples both in India and North America.

Some of his best performances have been compiled in to “Varistha – K.V. Narayanaswamy – DVD”. K.V. Narayanaswamy and the great Mridangam maestro Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman have come together in this album to take the listeners on a musical journey which leaves them with a sweet after taste.  V.V.Ravi on the violin and T.V.Vasan on the Ghatam support the two legendary musicians in their own individual way giving it an edge.

The songs in this album are Thyagaraja compositions that were sung in a concert held under the auspices of Sri Thyagaraja Sangeetha Vidwath Samajam, Mylapore. The song “Sogasuga mridanga” is something to watch out for. K.V. Narayanaswamy and Mridangam maestro Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman have surpassed their own musical skills in this master piece. All the songs in this series merit a standing ovation from both the audience and connoisseurs.

This album that presents a collection of some of the best songs in exquisite ragas rendered in the captivating voice of the legendary K.V. Narayanaswamy is truly a treat for all music lovers.

Nityashree Mahadevan – Sri Devi Yagna

The world of Carnatic music has seen a lot of musicians with an immense amount of talent over the years. Smt. Nithyasree Mahadevan is an eminent musician who has carved her own niche in the world of Carnatic music.  Her musical genius stands out as a result of her divine voice rich in raga bhava. Her impeccable singing has a ring of clarity to it, thus making her songs a treat to all music lovers.

Nityashree at a performanceSmt. Nithyasree Mahadevan comes from a family of musicians; her paternal grandmother late D.K. Pattammal has a lot of laurels to her name and her authority on Muthuswami Dikshitar’s kritis and Papanasam Sivan compositions is unquestionable. Nithyasree Mahadevan has carried on her grandmother’s legacy and has sung a lot of Papanasam Sivan’s compositions.

A lot was expected from Nithyasree as a result of her background and she has more than lived up to her audience expectations. Her clear high pitched voice has enabled her to extend her music to various other genres such as devotional music, patriotic music and even playback singing.

Nityashree has always managed to balance her celebrity status in the film industry and her carnatic career. An extremely popular song ‘Kannodu Kaanbadellam in the movie Jeans marked Nithyasree’s entry in to playback singing. After such a great start, it was to be expected that she would get many more offers. She has been extremely successful as a playback singer while retaining her strong hold on Carnatic music and has done justice to both.

She has released over a 100 albums which have been a commercial success because of the perfection she imparts in to her music. The latest album by Nithyasree is the Sri Devi Yagna, a series of 8 volumes of songs composed by Sri Yagnesa Maharishi. It gives a lot of knowledge about the universe and praises the various forms and aspects of Sri Devi. Such wisdom rendered in the divine voice of Nithyasree accounts to a delightful experience for a listener.

Nithyasree Mahadevan has been successful in bringing out not just audience satisfaction but delight. She has performed in a number of concerts and sabhas all over the world and has won the hearts of many across the globe. The number of awards and titles that she has received over the years is a proof enough of her accomplishments in the world of music.