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Friday, August 03, 2001

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A tribute worth the while


IT WAS a small gathering sans ostentation of any sort at the Srinivasa Sastri Hall that evening. But everyone present seemed genuinely interested in the subject - K.V. Mahadevan, film music composer who infused wondrous classical tones to cine melodies. Sundar's Ragapravaham paid homage to Mahadevan, who passed away recently, through a lec-dem that was more of an informal interaction between the listeners and the performers.

Assisted by Revathy Krishna on the veena and with accompaniments comprising only the tabla (Periyanayagam) and keyboard (N.V.Babu) Sundar rendered the evening's show with zest.

Sundar had planned the programme with care. He categorised K.V. Mahadevan's songs under various headings - ragas, emotions and singers. He was able to list quite a number of songs under each category. And because he wished to pack as many examples as possible things went slightly overboard. Before he could finish a couple of lines from one number, he shifted to another with the speed of a magician that there was hardly any time for the audience to grasp the beauty of the lines sung. Things could have been slower and a less obvious race against time.

From Carnatic ragas, Darbari Kanada, Sahana and Hindolam to Hindustani ragas Palasi Kafi, Pahadi, Peelu and Jonpuri, K.V. Mahadevan had utilised classicism in cinema music with their beauty in tact, explained Sundar, as he reeled out examples.

Mahadevan took classical music to the villages, Sundar said. True. When the ``Paarthaen Sirithaen'' song, from ``Veera Abhimanyu'', scintillatingly rendered by P.B. Sreenivas and P. Susheela, first became a hit (it still is!) little would the young villager humming it, have realised that he was actually practising Sahana raga!

When Sundar himself posed a query about whether K.V. Mahadevan could have been the composer of the M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar number in ``Sivagami', there were a couple of enthusiastic responses from the audience. Soon, the experienced and authentic cinema source, ``Film News'' Anandan was at the mike, giving details about how the song sung even earlier by MKT, actually found its way into the film. Such lively exchanges added lustre to the show.

Young, up and coming Easwari, sang the popular yesteryear hit ``Mayangadha Manam Yavum'' with the tone and expression of Banumathi herself.

Sundar made an interesting observation - he said K.V. Mahadevan's songs, especially the romantic ones, invariably had the male voice singing in a bolder and higher pitch while the female's seemed to rely on the male's and seek sustenance from it.

He gave ``Oruthi Oruvanai Ninaithuvittal...'' from the film ``Sarada'' as example. Incidentally, the song was rendered entirely on the veena by Revathy Krishna. After she played the everlasting ``Gangai Karai Thottam'' from the film ``Vaanambadi`` in the rare Palasi Kafi raga, Sundar took off from there to list some of the other KVM numbers in the same raga. ``Kakkai Siraginilae...'' to name one.

All the examples that were put together to form an appealing medley were well-rendered. Except at one or two points when the sruti seemed not completely in alignment.

The blaring horns of vehicles zooming past in the busy Luz area, the not-so-cooperative acoustics and the bare minimal orchestra notwithstanding, the evening was an enjoyable trip down memory lane for ardent admirers of the veteran film music composer.

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

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