Thillana Mohanambal and MS Subbulakshmi: Nostalgic memories

July 17, 2007

by Vasu

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.

Concert Details:
Smt M.S.Subbulakshmi Live at Bhakta Rasika Ranjani Sabha, Bombay, 1978.

Accompanists:
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

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2 Responses to “Thillana Mohanambal and MS Subbulakshmi: Nostalgic memories”

  1. Praveen GK Says:

    I like the touch of Indianness in this article🙂
    MS is truly inspiring and anything said in praise of her is only less!!!!

  2. srikanth Says:

    saw ur site, do u hav audio or vedio of above concert, if there, plz reply.


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