In the ongoing series on accompanists, meet vocalist Mohan Vaidhya.
UNSTOPPABLE Mohan Vaidhya.
If you are the kind who watches Tamil tele-serials, you might have seen him in "Raja Rajeshwari" on Sun TV or "Roja" on Jaya TV. And if you are a fan of classical dance and music, you might know that he anchored a popular quiz back in the 1990s, "Ragam Sangeetham" and later one for young Bharatanatyam dancers called "Bharatam". At the beginning of his career though, he was a Carnatic vocalist and violinist, and spent 15 years in Delhi accompanying leading classical dancers in both capacities. Yes, Mohan Vaidhya is nothing if not versatile. "Everyone in my family is into music. My father K.M. Vaidhyanathan was a music director with All India Radio, my mother Vasantha Vaidhyanathan used to sing on AIR. All my brothers too are musicians, and my uncle G. Ramanatha Iyer was a well-known film music director."Not surprisingly, Mohan's concerts today span the range of classical to film music.Though his father was posted in Delhi, Mohan remained in Chennai, where he first underwent training under his uncle K.C. Thyagarajan and then completed his course in music from the Government Music College in Adyar.
Salad days in Delhi
Mohan came to Delhi to play the violin at the instance of the late Bharatanatyam guru K. Govindarajan, for whom he expresses undying gratitude. "I came to Delhi without knowing anyone, not a word of Hindi. It was the Govindarajan family who took care of me. Especially his son (vocalist and nattuvanar) Elangovan. He taught me Hindi and took me around Delhi. I can never forget their help."
Mohan, currently busy with Tamil films - he acted in a supporting role with Vikram in "Sethu" and more recently appeared in "Anniyan" - still comes to Delhi at the invitation of two leading dancers, Swapnasundari and Saroja Vaidyanathan. Recently, he was here to sing for a programme of Guru Saroja's Ganesa Natyalaya, and he sings and provides nattuvangam for Swapnasundari's programmes of Vilasini Natyam too.
"I am grateful that they continue to call me to accompany them," he says, adding, "Thanks to Saroja Akka, I even had the opportunity to meet President Abdul Kalam, when she performed before him." Though Mohan's career in singing and violin playing soared in Delhi, he returned to Chennai when his father settled there in 1995. "I didn't want to stay back in Delhi so I also went. But after returning, I was totally blank and disappointed for a few months."His bare patch came to an end when he was offered the music quiz Bharatam. This "Himalayan success" that lasted for five years gave a new tangent to his career as it brought acting opportunities in its wake. But life was not merely one success to another. Losing his wife of 14 years, Vijayalakshmi, in a train accident in `97 was only one of the trials he had to face. Today, though, Mohan has remarried. He runs the KMV Kalayala Arts Academy in Chennai. Now all set to revive a light music group he founded in the `80s in Delhi with friends Elangovan and Kirtivasan, Mohan promises a "gala show of KEM" in Delhi soon.
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