I was listening to a recording of a spectacular MS Subbulakshmi concert held in 1978 at Bhakta Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Bombay. The recording quality is mediocre at times but the music makes you forget this. The concert opens with a majestic rendition of khamAs which immediately reminded me of something I read about 40 years ago that I would like to share it with you all.
About 40-50 years ago, an immortal novel called “ThillAnA MohanAmbAL” by KalaimAmaNi Kotthamagalam Subbu was serialized in Ananda Vikatan – the protagonists of the novel are Shanmugasundaram, a nAdaswaram player and MohanAmbAL, a BharatanAtyam dancer. My recollection is that Subbudu modeled his characters respectively after Sri T.N.RAjarathnam PiLLai and Smt. Kamala Lakshman. In the novel, initially they have a competitive relationship which later blossoms
into romance. They challenge each other – his music vs. her dance. The competition starts and Shanmugasundaram plays a few songs and she was an even match. Then, the climax – thillAnA is about to commence – Shanmugasundaram blows into his reeds and starts his thillAnA – Subbudu describes this with the following sentence “khamAs thuLLiyadu” – this short sentence spoke volumes about Shanmugasundaram’ s music – alacrity, authority, command, dexterity, elegance, enthralling, exhilaration, majesty, virtuosity…
I was reminded of this when I heard MSS commence the concert with a vibrant, brisk and majestic rendition of khamAs – indeed ‘khamAs thuLLugiradu” . This is followed by one stunning gem after another – Arabhi, varALI, AanandabhairavI, mOhanam, tOdi and hEmavatI – amazing AlApanais and stunning swara vinyasas. As you are immersed in the blissful state, you reach “thAkur tumH SharaNAyi” and your head brings you back down to earth and tells you that thukkadAs means the concert is coming to a close. But your heart pines for more.
Smt M.S.Subbulakshmi Live at Bhakta Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Bombay, 1978.
Smt Radha Viswanathan – Vocal Support
Sri V.V.Subrahmanyam – Violin
Sri T.K.Murti – Mridangam
Sri V.Nagarajan – Kanjira
Sri T.H.Vinayakaram – Ghatam
01. mAtE malayadhvaja pANDya (daru varnam) – khamAs – harikESanallUr muttaiyA bhAgavatar
02. chAla kallalADu – Arabhi – tyAgarAja
03. sESAcala nAyakam bhajAmi – varALI – muttusvAmI dIkShitar
04. O jagadambA – AnandabhairavI – SyAmA SAstrI
05. paripAhimAm nRharE – mOhanam – mahArAja svAti tiruNAL
06. murugA murugA enRAl – sAvErI – periyasAmi tUran
07. manasulOni marmamulu – Suddha hindOLam – tyAgarAja
08. dASarathI nI RNamu – tODI – tyAgarAja… followed by Tani avartanam
09. raNganAyakam – nAyakI – muttusvAmI dIkShitar
10. RTP – hEmavatI – khaNDa jhampa (khaNDa naDai)
11. ThAkur tum SharaNAyI – mAND – guru nAnak
12. aLivENI endu ceivu (padam) – kuri~njI – mahArAja svAti tiruNAL