MS & Radha - Saga of Steadfast Devotion

Books on Carnatic Music and those for / by / on musicians.
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arasi
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#1

Post by arasi »

When a friend asked me recently if this book written by Gowri Ramnarayanan is available in the US, I said I would get it for her on my next trip to India. I just came to know that one can get the book in the US now from Shankar Ramachandran: 614-891-8501 614-537-7574
Last edited by arasi on 26 Jun 2009, 19:51, edited 1 time in total.

ragam-talam
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#2

Post by ragam-talam »

Arasi, do you have a writeup on this book somewhere?

arasi
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#3

Post by arasi »

r_t,
I am not good at giving links. However, last December, the book was released by Manmohan Singh in Delhi, again in Chennai. All the newspapers covered the events. I started a thread on the Chennai event on the forum and you can get an idea.
This coffee table book is lovely. It is filled with precious photographs of the family and of MS's concerts and encounters with the great. Gowri Ramnarayan has given a moving account of the bond between the mother and daughters, family and friends.

cmlover
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#4

Post by cmlover »

I have only two words to say if you are a fan of the Great MS:
BUY IT!

gn.sn42
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#5

Post by gn.sn42 »

Another source for the book:

Sruti

cienu
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#6

Post by cienu »

r_t

A review in Business World in the link below.

http://www.businessworld.in/index.php/B ... Child.html

cmlover
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#7

Post by cmlover »

Thanks cienu for that Ref.
Nice to get a view from a reviewer's side!

arasi
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#8

Post by arasi »

An insightful review about a must-see, must-read book.

cmlover
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#9

Post by cmlover »

Also see
http://www.msstribute.org/bookrelease.php
You can order through the shruti portal!

ragam-talam
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#10

Post by ragam-talam »

cienu, thanks for the review link. Sounds like a very good read.
I have the book 'MS: A life in music' by TJS George, and found that quite interesting.

Will definitely add this one to my collection.
Also, Gowri Ramnarayan is an excellent writer.
Last edited by ragam-talam on 27 Jun 2009, 15:39, edited 1 time in total.

ragam-talam
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#11

Post by ragam-talam »

An excerpt from the book mentioned at http://www.msstribute.org/Saga-Steadfast-Devotion.php
says: [quote]Kunja cut her first disc at age ten, the recording company yielding to Shanmukhavadivu’s persistent demands that they record her little girl's voice as well. No one thought that the child’s shrill treble would be noticed, but Marakatavadivum, a song in praise of the emerald-hued goddess Minakshi, in raga Senjurutti, with Oothukuzhiyinile, a siddhar padal (mystic verse), became a hit everywhere. Other young singers began to aim at the same high six-kattai pitch.

The sales of this first record must surely have surprised the company. Evarimata in Kambhoji, sung on both sides of the record, was released under the Twin label, with the song title in Telugu and Roman scripts, by "Miss. Subbalakshmi (Madura)"

cienu
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#12

Post by cienu »

R-T,

You can find Evarimata in the link below sung by a 10 year old MS :) (Read along with changes below)

http://www.mukundan.co.in/STREAM/Carnat ... ndex1.html
Last edited by cienu on 29 Jun 2009, 16:34, edited 1 time in total.

vasanthakokilam
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#13

Post by vasanthakokilam »

cienu, thanks. What a treat! That is a solid version of evarimata for any age. Quite incredibe MS sang and recorded it when she was only 10 years old.

While people are that site, give the 'kalaithuki' (YKK) a listen, available at the 3rd page.
In the last stanza, her singing of the line 'Chinthai mahizhndu vAnOr....' in that folkish YKK with a two avarthana flourish is something else.

ragam-talam
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#14

Post by ragam-talam »

cienu, thankyou very much for the link. MS sounds wonderful even at that age! Now I can appreciate why our seniors go ooh and aah about her.
And VK, thanks for that pointer to kaalaithuki. Such a delicate ragam in the hands of such a sensitive singer - so lovely!

cmlover
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#15

Post by cmlover »

Dear cienu
I have the precious TWIN label 78rpm record (F.T 585)
Evari Mata
Miss SUBBALAKSHMI
(madura)

which I was told was cut ~1934
which means MS was ~18years old.
The voice is deceptive and hence I wonder how this could be the recording of ~10year-old MS?
Pl enlighten me...

cienu
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#16

Post by cienu »

cmlover wrote:Dear cienu
I have the precious TWIN label 78rpm record (F.T 585)
Evari Mata
Miss SUBBALAKSHMI
(madura)

which I was told was cut ~1934
which means MS was ~18years old.
The voice is deceptive and hence I wonder how this could be the recording of ~10year-old MS?
Pl enlighten me...

Dear CML,

You are right :)

I just went through the MSS discography (which is available in msstribute.org) wherein the year this song is listed as having been recorded is 1932. Even then she is 16 years of age and not 10 years. I am not sure whether there are 2 recordings of Evari Mata or whether the 1934 label is the subsequent release of the 1932 version. (I shall have this checked too with "MS experts" of that era.)

Maragatha Vadivu is the first song she is said to have recorded and at the age of 8 years. (again as per the discography). This song can be heard in page 5 of the link above.
Last edited by cienu on 29 Jun 2009, 06:56, edited 1 time in total.

cmlover
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#17

Post by cmlover »

Thanks for that reference. That certainly is the child's voice. My disc probably is a re issue rather than there being a new recording! It is worth a serious research to study how MS's voice had evolved over the years. It will be nice to add the year to that fabulous collection listed..

cienu
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#18

Post by cienu »

Two more reviews of the book in "The Outlook" and "India Today" (links below)

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?250545
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/index.php? ... e=archieve

cmlover
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#19

Post by cmlover »

Good reviews! But the best review of the book is the book itself!
The reviewers tend to forget that the book is not about a celebrity and her protege, but it is the human story of a spiritual mother and her daughter!

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#20

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

Excellent Book although I must admit I am indisputably biased--My mother(Chinnani) and MS Mami(as I used to address her) were friends for over 60 years(see ref in Gowri's book about Chinnani Mami--there was an article in The Hindu in Sept 17 2004 when Mami turned 88--detailing this relationship with a pic of my mother and MS Mami(taken by the famous Hollywood Director Ellis R Duncan(who directed Savithri and Shakunthalai). Over the years as I was growing up myself my sister and my brother(M.S. Sekhar--Mridangist--commonly referred as Bombay Sekhar) have spent considerable time with the whole MS family--nephews cousins and all-- travelling(my brother has accompanied MS Mami in several concerts-as Sadasiva Mama used to jokingly call my brother as the Asthana Vidwan of Kalki gardens(their residence in Chennai ).

The book itself is extremely well-written naturally because of Gowri--Radha herself is a wonderful raconteur and the relationship between Mami and Radha --off and on the stage. Mami herself was truly a divine personality --every description about her nobility,dignity,humility and divinity would still fall far short of the truth!! At any given time the Kalki Gardens Household will have over 50 or 60 people having lunch(aside from the dignitaries) although Mama and Mami were very spare eaters,it looked as a Kalyanam everyday with Mami herself personally doing the server duties to her near and dear ones(our family was lucky to be amongst them). Discussing freely with Mami about her early training by her mother and how important sruthi adherence(Mami epitomised the word Suswaralakshmi given by Bade Ghulam Ali Khan). I believe(Mami was never tired of repeating this following story no matter how many times she may have told the same person!!) . The story :
When mami was 6 or 7 her mother(Shanmughavadivu) used to wake her up early in the morning 5 A.M. or so and even before coffee etc will sit her down with the Sruthi Box well-tuned and get her started with the Alankarams etc etc--the sruthi box with the bellows will be operated by her mother for about 2 to 3 minutes and her mother would go into the Kitchen to start the usual cooking chores--with no one to "play" the "bellows" Mami would continue to sing(albeit without the sruthi in the background) and intermittently her mother would pop out of the Kitchen to play the bellows for a couple of minutes to test whether mami was still with her "pitch" and mami proudly used to comment that never even once her sruthi had strayed!! That training really stood her well and as we all know throughout her career Mami's Sruthi Suddham was impeccable. She used to lament about some of the upcoming musicians --enormously talented as Mami would generously acknowledge--about their unintentional indifference to the sruthi aspect and their tendencies--especially the female singers-- to stay more on the higher octaves and not "plumb" the lower octaves because they would lack clarity(due to lack of rigorous practice she would lament) and used to comment to my mother "Mami you are very friendly with these artistes,could you not tell them this, to which my mother would say--if with your stature you are loathe to give advice what credence and credentials do I have to tell these people--Mami's lament was always that while people innocently and genuinely talked about her gifted voice etc Mami felt they were not sufficiently appreciative of the effort she has put into maintaining it with discipline and devotion. Mami felt that what she had to offer was more than a superficial gifted voice. Artistes need to be complemented for what sets them apart from the rest and the audience should be more discriminating in their discernment==a thought often echoed by the late GNB who used to say "Nan Koduthal Mattum Poraduda,Onakku Eduthukka teriyanum(It is not enough if I dish it out, you must be capable of discernment as well!!).
Some of the younger readers in the Rasikas forum may beg to differ-cooments are welcome!!
Back to the book--it is a "must-read" not because it is the bio of a celebrity but how human and family-oriented that celebrity was and what a privilege to have been part of a great era.

For readers who are interested HOW one family(ours) interacted with the greats like MSS,Semmangudi,Palghat Mani Iyer etc may like to read the book written by my father the Late K.S.Mahadevan(former Secretary of the Shanmukhananda Sabha in Bombay and for the last thirty years till his death in 2006 the Music critic for the Indian Express ,Chennai). The book is titled "MUSINGS ON MUSIC AND MUSICIANS"(Edited by me and there is an article I wrote in that book about GNB and an article on Palghat mani Iyer by my brother M.S.Sekhar who was his disciple). Unfortunately we printed only one edition and was sold out within two months of its publication and we could not get around to printing a second edition since my father's death in 2006. It may be available in any of the music libraries. If there is enough interest amongst readers we may explore reviving the book!!
Enough of the ramblings!!
M.K.Ramasubramanian("Ramesh").

cmlover
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#21

Post by cmlover »

Nice to hear the personal anecdotes! keep them coming. There is a lot about MS which is not written yet. So our Rasikas should share their personal experiences freely through this Forum.

It is nice to know that the letter 'S' in MSS though representing ShanmukavaDivu traditionally also represents Sruti :)

arasi
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#22

Post by arasi »

How small the world is! CinnANi mami, a close friend of MSS is your mother! Hope you bring more anecdotes about MMI and others too. Would also like to read your father's book.

rshankar
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#23

Post by rshankar »

Sri Ramasubrammanian,

I have read your father's book (own one of the 'sold-out' copies, I guess)...both that, and Smt. Gowri's are undoubtedly 'must reads'!

Please keep the anecdotes coming!

cmlover
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#24

Post by cmlover »

When Shankar says 'must' then it is a must for me!
How can I get your book?

cienu
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#25

Post by cienu »

One more review of the book which has come up in LiveMINT.com

http://www.livemint.com/2009/08/0621550 ... -song.html

arasi
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#26

Post by arasi »

A good one, Cienu.
How true, those last lines! MS was a phenomenon, not a mere shooting star which streaked across the sky but is a staying wonder. The credit for this larger than life aspect of hers was the work of her husband who was dedicated to the cause of bringing out the best in his wife and in showcasing her. Radha, except for the times when she was very sick, was always there by her mother's side on the stage--a crescent moon on the firmament that was her mother, as the writers say. MS more than earned the love of her daughters and that of the family; the world too--not merely by the magic of her music but by her very being.
Her story is a story which would find a place in history. Her magnanimity and her music couldn't but enlist ardent admirers for her--and a family whose love for her knows no end...

cmlover
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#27

Post by cmlover »

Thanks Cienu

While this book is a treasure-house of information on MS there is missing information on the 'active half' of MS (I mean Sadasivam here). We ought to know more about Sadasivam and his efforts which let the lotus called MS to bloom. Perhaps Gowri and Radha could recapture their memories of this great man (who is also a great patriot) and bring back memories of his life. Many of us know nothing except know him as 'kalki sadashivam'. There is no book on him, but he is entitled to be remembered by all lovers of CM, indeed by all lovers of Tamil (since he was the founder of Kalki). Do entreat the concerned to write a book on him before the recollections start fading. This is my humble personal/public request. Thank you!

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#28

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

Dear CMlover: Could not resist jumping into the fray re; your interest in knowing about Mr.Sadasivam.I think I can speak with certainty(ofcourse I am biased).

First of all,my mother and MS Mami were friends for over 60 years and Mama and my Dad were equally friendly. If I say I owe what I am today to Mama that would not be an exaggeration. My mother and MS mami became friends when I was hardly three years old in Calcutta where mami,Mama and Radha(all this I have heard from my mother umpteen number of times so that readers should not think I was so clairvoyant @ 3 years had come for shooting for the movie Savithri.Radha was about 7 years old and Mami and mama used to leave her with my mother for baby-sitting..The shooting sometimes would last several hours late into the evening. But no matter how late,Mami used to insist on picking up a fast asleep Radha and take her home which was not too far from where we lived in Calcutta--my mother would have cooked for Mami and Mama in view of the late return--they would eat,pick up Radha and take her home--Mami's parting words would be thanks and also a gentle admonition about the amount of food left over(my mother was always a generous cook and was constantly afraid that she might run out of food!!),and how wasteful that practice is given the meager salary of my father(at that time my father was an entry-level economic journalist for an Finance weekly(the equivalent of BARRON's in those days)and having to take care of two young children and how my mother should be more thrifty--at that time my mother was 21 and Mami was 24. Getting back to the radha-MS relationship Mami would never bear to be separated from radha and Radha was equaly affectionate towrads Mami . Anyway sorry for the digression--this is about Mama.
I used to call Mama MS Mama in those days --an appendage that most -husbands of celebrities would not relish! But Mama always laughed it off and every time whenever he was in Company and I happened to pass by he would introduce me as the First person to call him MS Mama--much to my embarassment--he did this when I was 11 years old before Rajaji much to my chagrin.

Seriously though Mama took a liking for me and always used the opportunity to talk to me about hard work,loyalty,truthfulness fairness--qualities that he lived by- he was extraordinarily trustful but when the trust is breached watch out!! That person is banned for life for ever--one such person who had betrayed him tried to atone and get back to Mama,mama would instruct the Gorkha not to let the person in the premises--if he did the Gorkha would be fired.
he used to tell me of his early struggles--he was part of a large family and the family burden fell on him--how at an young age he decided to go to Madras with the just amount of rly fare in his pocket.he joined the Feedom movement and always talked about how to market Khadi--while everybody was exhorting from an patriotic angle Mama was the consummate marketer--the greatest Ad man I have known-he boosted Khadi sales--

To be continued---

VK RAMAN
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#29

Post by VK RAMAN »

Very very emotional and exciting story - miga aavaludan kaathiruppom!

cmlover
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#30

Post by cmlover »

Excellent. Continue the MS mama side of the story which appears quite interesting.. Tell us how he got started with kalki and the relationships with Rajaji etc., Thank you...

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#31

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

MS Mama saga(Contd),
Mama was passionate about the freedom movement,boldly singing Bharathiyar songs(although I have never heard him sing,I have had family members tell me that Mama had a good voice and was delivered with passion).In TJS George's book he goes into details re; the ambivalence that MS Mami's mother had about Sadasivam--a person with no steady job,courting arrest frequently,how is he going to support a wife whose star was truly in the ascendant as a meteor and how her career is going to be impaired etc etc==all legitimate worries but Mama was undeterred--this was one quality I admired in Mama every time he encountered an insurmountable obstacle--to him obstacles existed only to be surmounted and ignored. He was always confident he would prevail--he was very proud and fond of narrating the following story about his stint with Ananda Vikatan(a position in sales/advertising that he had to take up to support his family despite the fact that he did not much care for Vasan's editorial philosophy in the thirties steering clear from all political leanings/shades). Vasan offered him a job at Rs.75 permonth,whereas Mama boldly asked for Rs.150 per month and followed it up with a challenge that he would increase the Ad revenues significantly enough in 6 months and if he failed to deliver Vasan could fire him. Imagine his "cheek" struggling to support a large family and instead of playing it safe and subservient,he goes aggressive--so much confidence he had in his own abilities.Vasan ofcourse a shrewd business man would not go for it and stuck to his guns.It was in the Vikatan that mama made friends with Kalki who was the Editor of Vikatan .Kalki Mama was largely responsible for the Editorials,the Carnatic Music reviews under the pen name Karnatakam . I have also heard that thro Rajaji and the freedom movement he had befriended Kalki and they served several jail terms together. It must be mentioned that everyone of his colleagues and contemporaries who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the freedom movement were amply rewarded thro Mama's large-heartedness and some of them were permanent fixtures in the Kalki gardens--their families children's weddings,MS mami would sing and so on. So whenever mama delivered a "sermon' about gratitude,loyalty I never got tired of listening because he "lived" it every minute of his life. Likewise when Mami was growing up in madurai and the good samaritans that were very protective of Mami were all helped by Mama later on financially.
The 'start-up" of Kalki.
Mama was not happy in the Vikatan and was mulling the idea of starting his own weekly and he knew he could coax Kalki mama to join him- the brilliant planner that he was, he raised money thro films(he realised that MS Mami's concerts or royalties from the records alone would not be sufficient--mind you throughout these struggles--his tenacious effort to overcome MS Mami's mother's reservations,his obligations to his large family of nephews and nieces--some of whom had lost their parents or other difficulties--none of these deflected him from his freedom movement efforts,need to start a vehicle like Kalki,need to raise money etc. Sakunthalai was a success and helped him raise some money. I still have in our family archives a letter written by mama in 1941 which was brief and terse(which I can never be as forum readers may have already noticed!!!)
Dear Mahadevan: By God's grace we are going to start Kalki Magazine and I want you to join as a charter subscriber for a grand sum of Rs.3 per year. By the end of this month I expect you to get 10 more subscribers.regards to Chinnani(my mother's name)
Sd. T.Sadasivam. needless to say my father managed to get 12 subscriptions with great difficulty--in those days most of the Tamilians in Calcutta were either steno typists or low=level clerks making Rs 60 to Rs. 75 permonth so that you can imagine the environment. Ofcourse it was more due to the need to respond to a friend's call than any enduring faith in Mama's business acumen
which none in my family could claim!!
My father and mama got along well because both were extremely action-oriented,task-focussed obsessive people. Once when my father had visited Mama at the kalki gardens --I think in the Sixties-- Mama was to receive Lord Harwood== cousin of Queen Elizabeth on his visit to Madras in a couple of days later.he handed my father a book written by Lord Harwood which Mama had been given but Mama did not have the time to read it and wanted my father to write a review. My father told me(he has referred to this incident in his Book Musings on Music and Musicians released in Madras in 2003 on the occasion of my father's 90th birthday) that he turned the review in within 24 hours and Mama was after perusing it sent to Lord Harwood without any editing--so much confidence he had in my father's penmanship--Mind you Mama was no slouch when it came to writing--even as late as in his eighties his letters were terse.to the point,no beating around the bush etc. Ofcourse Mama had a fiery temper and if any draft commissioned by him was too flawed
he would go on a frenzy(the beuty of it was Mama would use a high-pitched voice when angry but never an expletive or offcolor word to humiliate the person at the receiving end. An example;

Once in the late Fifties, there was a concert in triplicane of MS Mami,where one of the regular accompaniments(name not mentioned here) on the mridangam did not play to mama's liking(not TKM)/. This person was a loyal accompanist and very well liked by mama normally. When we all returned to kalki gardens (including the /Mridangam/ artist) in two cars--with Mami Mama in the earlier car. I was in the second car with the accompaniments. As the mridangam artist and myself were slowly climbing the stairs, we saw Mama at the top of the stairs (inwardly seething but outwardly calm) which we thought was unusual. When we reached the top of the stairs,Mama addresses the Mridangam Vidwan in this manner;
"(name)ju,
Nee Innikku vachichai paru_anda vashippukku nee anda Mridangathai eduthundu marina Beach kku poi mridangathai samudrathile pottuttu neeyum samudrathile vizhundud!!!(translation: the way you played today you should have gone to marina Beach- ,dumped the Mridangam into the Bay of Bengal and you should have drowned yourself in it!!-readers not familiar with Madras should know that triplicane is very close to marina Beach!!__)

More later!!

rajeshnat
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#32

Post by rajeshnat »

MKR sir
Can you also tell how shri sadashivam plans MS amma's concert , I have heard few anecdotes where with sign language where sadAshivam instructs MS.

Keep them coming , they are lovely. Just one feedback sir, give some whitespaces of one or two lines between your paragraphs That will give a perfect ms amma finish .

s_hari
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#33

Post by s_hari »

Ramasubramaniam Sir - please continue to write about these wonderful incidents. As rajesh wrote, i am also keen to know more about sadasivam mama involvement in music.

-hari

cmlover
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#34

Post by cmlover »

simply fascinating RMK. We know of Sadasivam's business acumen and ability to take risks. I have been told and I think rightly so that were it not for Sadasivam there would not have been an MS. Just as there would not have been a KBS were it not for SGK! Similarly we would not have had DKP were it not for the incentives of Easwaran. Thus there was a man behind every CM female star we had in those MCP ( :) golden days :) And the sad part for CM is that NCV did not have such a man behind!
Now we also know that Sadasivam was also behind the proverbial munificense of MS. Tell us some more if you know about the relationship between Sadasivam and Kalki Krishnamurthy. They were the main architechts of MS. Also tell us how MS happened to marry Sadasivam in spite of the resistance of Shanmugavadivu who apparently was a tough woman. Will also be grateful to know of Sadasivam's relationship with PeriyavaaL whose blessings indeed was the greatest gift MS ever received in her life.

Continue the stories at your leisure as you have an eager appreciative audience at this Forum.... and thank you for sharing them with us!

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#35

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

Dear Rasikas:Thanks for the encouragement-I realise I need to be focussed instead of getting swept away in torrents of reminiscences spanning over 65 years.I will try.

CM Lover's points about the MSS/Sadasivam partnership as well as the observations about the KBS/SGK,DKP/Eswaran and the NCV/Satchi relationships are astute and on the dot. I shall use separate thread on each of those relationships-My family(from Tirunelveli Dist) was an ardent SGK fan--I have one of the rarest casettes(privately recorded from several gramophone records of SGK) and I had an uncle from Shencottah(where SGK hails from,Shencottah Gangadhara Iyer Kittappa) whose father was a neighbor of SGK and a good family friend(SGK unfortunately died in 1935 @ the age of 27). So I would like to write more on SGK in a separate thread--I leave it to one of the Rasikas to start this--then I can focus on what would interest the reader rather than ramble all over!! Likewise,on the DKP/Eswaran and NCV/Satchi story in separate threads.

Back to CM lover's queries on Sadasivam-Kalki relationship and the stormy relationship between Shanmughavadivu and Sadasivam.
Sadasivam Kalki(Krishnamurthy) "axis"-- Kalki mama was three years older than Mama and the freedom movement and Rajaji were the two principal factors in the relationship. Also Mama did not care much for Vasan's alleged "meretriciousness" in the way he ran Vikatan in the thirties when the freedom movement and the post-Bharathiyar phase called for a greater dose of patriotism(especially when one owns the only powerful medium one had in one's possession namely the magazine and in Mama's opinion the crass "commercialism" of Vikatan(I wonder what he would say today of the Tamil magazines-heavily film-oriented and youth-oriented!) turned him off!! Vikatan was banned in the Kalki gardens and Mama used to call it the "Ananda Kadan"(meaning joyous Debt!!)Mama also rebuffed Vasan's attempt to cast MS in one of his movies--although mama could have made more money in succumbing to Vasan's overtures.(Note: There is a prevalent thought about Vasan's motives and Mama's suspicion of them--namely Vasan's control over the actors/actresses was legendary and this may start a slippery slope of Mama ending up losing MS). In my humble opinion and based on the observations of others privy to the issue, this theory is NOT VALID at all. It was more due to Mama's principles and his philosophical incompatibility with Vasan that prompted him to part ways. Kalki to his credit also felt that despite the fact that he enjoyed full confidence of Vasan and Vikatan offered a forum and freedom for his activities--felt he owed the country more than mere self-enrichment.Kalki was a simple man in his dress,and not much of a lover of creature comforts. So it was a natural chemistry between the two although each respected their mutual space and were very careful not to tread on each other. Kalki did not visit the kalki premises everyday--he lived in gandhinagar,Adyar and Kalki gardens in Kilpauk was atleast 45 minutes one way. He will spend two or three days at the most at the office--even then Kalki would never come upstairs to chat with MS Mami or engage in idle discussions with the scores of vistors thronging the place. Both Kalki mama and Sadasivam mama were ardent followers of Rasikamani T.K.Chidambaranatha Mudaliar of Courtallam(who was a great poet/writer--he wrote the Kamba Ramayanam serialisation in kalki under the heading "Kambar Tharum Katchi"). TKC was thoroughly disenchanted with the Schooling system(the british) at that time and actively canvassed against sending kids to School instead urging parents to teach at home. Sadasivam Mama literally took his advice and withdrew Radha and Vijaya from the schools they were going to in Chennai and enaged private tuition-Kalki on the other hand did not follow- he sent Anandhi to a convent school and Anandhi matriculated from one of those schools. This incident to me shows both of them as right in their own ways and not any contradiction as some may feel.

Because of the meeting of minds on Editorial philosphy and principles there was seldom any dissent or discord between the two- Kalki mama stayed completely away from the business aspects of the magazine-he neither had the inclination nor the time-he was eagerly sought after as a especially leading literary luminary. So this arrangement suited both men(subsequently this was cemented further by the marriage of Anandhi to Ambi-N.Ramachandran--one of Mama's pet nephews--Gowri ramnarayan's parents).Still the lines were clearly drawn and neither stepped on the other's toes. IT was a great partnership where each person did what he knew best and knew when to step away from each other's path!! Rajaji's influence on both men was tremendous and Rajaji's passionate anti-congress stance was echoed and reinforced by the powerful editorials of Kalki. Unfortunately Kalki died suddenly in 1954 and Mama was shattered because he now had to carry both the roles--he brought in M.P.Somu --a loyalist of Rajaji and TKC who maintained the dignity and stature of the magazine--but it should be said to Mama's credit and his loyal cohorts who stood by him thro thick and thin the magazine maintained its high standards and circulation(despite the onslaught of more commercial-oriented ,populist magazines like Kumudamll An interesting side bar story on Kalki Mama's work habits.
Readers may recall Kalki's famous historical long novels--Sivakamiyin Sabatham,Parthiban kanavu in the late forties. In the fifties he started his magnum opus-Ponniyin Selvan which ran for several years.I had a glimpse of how he approached writing week after week for the Kalki for this novel. The magazine would be due to go to press on Wednesdays(before the Sunday)--all material,ads,editorials jokes etc would all have been formatted to ready to go by Tuesday night waiting for kalki's weekly Ponniyin Selvan novel-- sometimes kalki would be so busy the weekend before as well as Monday --late Tuesday there will be a call to Adyar from kalki gardens reminding him of the due script--Kalki would have made broad notes(Kurippugal ) regarding the pace and direction of the novel but would never write down chapter after chapter in advance. On one occasion he was late and he had misplaced his notes-- the previous week he would have built up a suspenseful ending to be followed up later!! When he misplaced his notes and the weekly script was due,he will hit upon a brilliant idea and come up with wonderful description about the flora of the palace,the gardens etc in great poetic detail and description just to get that weekly instalment out of the way. Most readers would be disappointed that he did not build on the suspense he had created the previous week and thought that he did it deliberately to increase readers interest and circulation .NOTHING COULD BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH--the fact is that he had misplaced his notes and rather than continue the suspense narrative inappropriately he would fill the space with descriptions. The last thing I would ever think of Kalki Mama was that he was a scheming person!!

Anybody who has read those classics would acknowledge that he was past master in statecraft,intrigue and suspense balanced by subtler sense of humor(his columns in Vikatan are a treat to read).Also he can be brutal as can be seen from his review of MS's Kandathundo Kannan Pol(the way MS has sung it it will sound like Kanathundo Kannan Po Labo Labo!!) Kalki would have fun with it in his column in kalki and ofcourse Mama would never take umbrage at that. Mama knew when his sensitivity was ruptured and react accordingly.

On the MSS-Shanmughavadivu-Sadasivam axis -later--

VK RAMAN
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#36

Post by VK RAMAN »

Integrity and commitment - two words that explain the character of MS Mama

cmlover
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#37

Post by cmlover »

Very interesting. The confrontation between SS Vasan and Sadasivam is the classical 'clash of the Titans'. Both made it big in their own way. It is indeed sad kalki died prematurely; which is a monumental loss toTamil and Tamizh isai. I had known Sadasivam was a door-to-door khadi salesman. For him to have succeeded in business is indeed a rag-to-riches story! Was he also quite knowledgeable in CM? what made him marry MS in spite of communal resistance. Those were the days when folks were ostracized for such marriages. But paradoxically this was one that was blessed by PeriyavaaL himself who may have divinely realized that this was an ideal marriage. You are giving nice insights into the personality of Sadashivam who no MBA or heavy capital succeeded in business and also brought out MS as a polished CM gem under trying circimstances!

I am equally curious on the other stories especially of NCV (where CM lost!); but let there be no information overload. No pressure at all! Take your time and narrate as you recall the series of events!

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#38

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

Mama's motivation in marrying MS-I must confess I am not privy to that segment of mama's life.I can only speculate based on my first hand knowledge of HOW much Mama appreciated mami's music(he always called himself Mami's #1 FAN!!! There must have been a divine intervention in the union because the opposition from Shanmughavadivu was legitimate- Imagine you have a 20 year old daughter,beautiful in looks, extraordinary lark-like voice and a sparkling imagination and grasping power.and universally acclaimed by the CM giants of that time- who were visitors to the Shanmughavadivu house-TNR,Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavathar(noted for his Laya prowess and Pallavi singing)(I have never heard his singing but MS Mami always used to proudly claim how she used to sing dificult pallavis before him and how he blessed her . If you are Shanmughavadivu and you hear such unvarnished praise from stalwarts ,you would naturally have high hopes for her career and progress and you want to make sure that she is married to a person whose #1 priority would be his wife and her career. Then comes a thirty-plus man--an active freedom fighter,penniless, no steady job,a captivating personality yoked to a gambler's wit and daring----none of them reassuring for a mother interested in the sole welfare of her talented daughter. So her reluctance was natural despite Mama's repeated assurances that he would give Mami's career a high priority. The events after are a little murky(I am not sure the TG George's version in his book does adequate justice to either Mama or Mami ) although Mami trusted Mama implicitly on this affair and there were some friends in madurai whose advice and protection mami sought when all this confrontation took place--Mama to his credit helped each and every member of those families that offered shelter to mami in madurai as a measure of his gratitude towards them. By the early forties Shanmughavadivu and family had reconciled themselves to the marriage although relations between the family and Mama were still cold.Mami had an elder brother M.S.Sakthivel and a younger sister Vadivambal(my mother claims she was even more beautiful than MS mami although my mother admits she did not know her that well --Vadivambal died when she was 22-- a shock to both Mami as well as her mother. In my mother's archives I saw a letter from Mami lamenting about her sister's death .Mama did his best to have Shakthivel accompany Mami for her concerts but Shakthivel was not forgiving and his mridangam car wnet nowhere. These disappointments and Mami's meteoric rise in the late forties and the national stature that Mama got for her,softened her mother's antipathy towards mama. As Gowri states in her book in 1955 when MS Mami sang in Madurai Shanmughavdivu was honored with a garland which she promptly placed on Mami's neck. Earlier(1948) when my uncle was in madurai-- in a street not too far from Shanmughavdivu's house,my mother was pregnant at that time with my brother Sekhar(Mama called him the Kalki gardens Asthana Vidwan as he played mridangam for mami in several concerts(weddings),Mami used to request my mother to visit her mother in madurai(I think if my memory serves me right it used to be called Danappa Mudali Agraharam). My mother used to visit her and report on her health. Point: Mama did everything to facilitate a rapprochement between himself and Mami's mother and showed extraordinary sensitivity towards her till her demise.Mami's mother towards the end of her life was satisfied that her daughter's career was enriched by Mama more than she could ever have dreamed for her. Hope this answers some of the questions raised by readers re: the Sadasivam-Shanmughavadivu axis.
As regards one of the readr's query about Mama's role in planning the songs for concerts.

Mama controlled this depending upon the venue,audience,dignitaries presence--Mami would sometimes demur hesitantly about repeating the same song in Panthuvarali(Sarasaksha the Swathi Thirunal's kriti)in each concert(mami would mention people might think I do not know another song in pantuvarali!!). Mama's contention was the Neraval portion(Bhamini gives full vent to the melodious voice of Mami and brings out her best ).later on Mama also mellowed and let her sing songs touching the lowest octave(with Radha providing the higher octave support).Mami would touch the lower Panchamam with a clarity and melody unsurpassed--(Amba Kamakshi in Bhairavi is an example--Ofcourse Semmangudi mama's influence was profound--Mami deftly adapted her sonorous briga-laden voice to the steady Bhava-laden style of Semmangudi. During the concerts Mama would intensely watch what is going on in the stage-whether the violinist or the Mridangam artiste is overdoing and spoiling the melody.Also how he would signal if he wants a different song(than originally planned ).Radha tells me of an incident when A Sikh dignitary(Governor or Minister I cannot recall) was being ushered in towards the middle of the concert,Mama signals to her by making a gesture of stroking the beard and Radha the sharp and perceptive the daughter she is immediately whispers in Mami's ears to sing a Guru Nanak Bhajan(mami's repertoire--be it bengali Robindra Sangeeth or Guru Nanak's song was phenomenal thanks to Mama's vision)!! Radha can recite a whole list of gestures that over the years she and Mama had devised to signal changes in the songs or in their sequence!!
Mama can also be ruthlessly caustic when some rasika suggests something totally incongruous. Example.
When they visited the US in 1977,myself and my wife hosted them for their concerts in and around NY City(including the carnegie hall oerformance--where my wife Nirmala provided the Thambura support!!).One of the concerts was in upstate NY and the local organiser who was all excited that he would be escorting the MS gang from my house in Queens(an honor I was gladly willing to yield!!).During the drive(I was told this by one of the occupants of the car) the host showed Mama a list of his favorites--the list included harikambodhi--Ramanannu and Khamas-Brocheva in succession!!). Mama I believe took one look at it and said which numbskull prepared the list--how can harikambodhi and Khamas appear in succession and gave a mini lecture as to what is needed for a concert balance!!

More on this -- 1977 tour of the US which for myself and my wife is an unforgettable experience--VKV played an important part during the tour as he did in 1966 when they visited the UN.

cacm
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#39

Post by cacm »

Ramesh,
You are bringing back MEMORIES OF M.S.AMMA& T.S. which are indelibly etched in our memories FOR EVER...................... . Incidentally while T.S.George writes well etc many of the things he has written in his book are what I consider "low blows" & hitting below the belt. They are not factual in nature & he has parroted the views & statements of the "Establishment" types in Madras who never could understand or appreciate the GREATNESS OF M.S. which transcends everything. In my opinion there has been only one such person in our lifetime
To add to the requests one of the organisers had requested Viribhoni followed by Koluvaui Unnadae! T.S. was flabbergasted & said in his 50 year experience he had never come across such a request! But now a days such a request may not be outlandish Iguess!
......VKV
Last edited by cacm on 09 Aug 2009, 10:32, edited 1 time in total.

cmlover
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#40

Post by cmlover »

Wonderful! Now we have the team of RMK and VKV who can provide firsthand info on the epoch-making MS trip to US 1977!
VKV
I agree TSG did indeed hit below the belt based on gossips. There is no need to confront them since the life of MS and Sadasivam is ample testimony for the purity of their relations.

I just want to verify one story that I have heard. It was said that Sadasivam met MS first time on a train journey and knowing her music prowess he requested her to sing when she sang 'kaNNedutthaakilum kaaNeerO' (the really beautiful soul-stirring simhendramadhyamam). That was indeed love at first sight. Is this story true?
At any rate that song of MS is indelibly etched in the memories of us (oldies)!

Do continue..

cacm
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#41

Post by cacm »

arasi wrote:How small the world is! CinnANi mami, a close friend of MSS is your mother!
Dear Arasi,
I am sure you have known & met many women who were vying for close friendship & claiming to be the closest etc in Madras. Thru' many of them I had known of Chinnani Mami in abstraction & when I finally met her& she was ramesh's mother I was shocked beyond description. Similarly I did not know the close relationship beteween Jayalakshmi Santhanam & V.V. Sadagopam for a long time!....Life is so full of pleassant surprises. VKV

cacm
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#42

Post by cacm »

cmlover wrote:Wonderful! Now we have the team of RMK and VKV who can provide firsthand info on the epoch-making MS trip to US 1977!
VKV
I agree TSG did indeed hit below the belt based on gossips. There is no need to confront them since the life of MS and Sadasivam is ample testimony for the purity of their relations.

I just want to verify one story that I have heard. It was said that Sadasivam met MS first time on a train journey and knowing her music prowess he requested her to sing when she sang 'kaNNedutthaakilum kaaNeerO' (the really beautiful soul-stirring simhendramadhyamam). That was indeed love at first sight. Is this story true?
At any rate that song of MS is indelibly etched in the memories of us (oldies)!

Do continue..

I am unable to say whether T.S. would have made such a request on first meeting. I place him on such a high pedestal because of various reasons- his participation in Independence movement(his picture is in Gandhi Mandapam as one of the freedom fighters- I ALWAYS only MARVEL at their GREATNESS in what they have contributed to my generation of Indians at least. INSPIRING is the only word that comes to my mind whenever I think of BOTH of them.....VKV

rajeshnat
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#43

Post by rajeshnat »

MKR Sir.
The anecdotes are getting wonderful , you have a great style. I am glad I asked you a question about sadashivam mama's involvement in kutcheri planning and song selection.

Usually concerts are always not pleasing the entire audience , it just has to touch the right people and perhaps ignore the rest . For eg when the Sardar came, the artists plan and sing a guru nanak based song. Who knows that sardar would have gone to the parliament in delhi and made a proposal that Smt MSS is nightingale.

Also when mAmA said 'how can harikambodhi and Khamas appear in succession ' this is a great piece of advice to many (especially one vidwan of today)who believe there is nothing wrong.

I wanted to ask just two more questions:
--------------------------------------------------
1. There was a mention somewhere that MS Amma learnt a lot from both musiri and semmangudi mama as gurus(though there is a minority opinion that SSI has certainly helped ms amma no questions about that, but that was more when MSS reached a celebrity status ). Any pointers on shri musiri- msamma guru sishya tutoring. I read somewhere musiri taught ms amma some great krithis like Tiruvadi Charanam (KambOdhi), RAmArAmA Gunaseema (Simhendramadhyamam)

2. A more difficult question, for me sadashivam mAmA was doing everything for ms amma and the loyal accompanists who stayed with her, by any chance did sadashivam mama show any patronage and helping tendency towards other sibling artists of MS amma.
Last edited by rajeshnat on 09 Aug 2009, 12:16, edited 1 time in total.

cmlover
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#44

Post by cmlover »

Let me add one more..
How come MS mama did not allow a Sishya parampara develop through MS?

cacm
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#45

Post by cacm »

MS Amma was such an eager student till the very end she learnt from so many different vidwans as well as language experts to make sure she was correct reg. languages as well. For example when she gave her performance in Asia Society in '66 T.S. went to the stage at the end of the song Gopalaha Pahimam & introduced K.V.N. who was present as not only only a great artist himself but as one who had taught M.S. this song. Similarly when she sang a Meera Song later on T. S. introduced the nineties old Ellis.R.Dungan-who was living in Pittsburgh then & specially came to that program- as the great director who came from Hollywood to Madras & was the great director of that film!....While some cynically can say it was opportunistic for some one like me it was both educational& inspiring to relive various memories of greatness.....The unbelievable appreciation of even a small help was characteristic of BOTH of them & the fact so many were admirers at various levels. VKV
Last edited by cacm on 09 Aug 2009, 19:57, edited 1 time in total.

cmlover
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#46

Post by cmlover »

VKV
first tell us how you got to know MS and TS so close!

cacm
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#47

Post by cacm »

TO tell the story properly would take too much space& time. Do you come to Chennai during dec 1st weekend to end of feb? I can buy you a good dinner & make a "full confession". OR if you come to cleveland festival- next year starts on April 1 & goes on for 10 days; GNB CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS THIS YEAR TOO- we can meet.....Briefly whether its a Nobel laurate like Feynman or a genius like Mali or once in a three hundred year phenom like SIVAN OR like MSS-TS pair OR one of a kind MMI it seems only for these greats to be convinced you are truly interested in learning more & have some knowledge in the area. This seems to unlock many things......VKV
Last edited by cacm on 10 Aug 2009, 00:12, edited 1 time in total.

cmlover
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#48

Post by cmlover »

It is not just for me! Our membership like to know CM history and you are a piece of it....
Of course I am personally interested in Feynman but would not discuss it here at the Forum :)

Ramasubramanian M.K
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#49

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K »

CMlover; Your question about VKV--I will let him answer the question.But I will add a certain perspective of mine towards Mama's choice of friends and how deep he would hold them on to his heart. Mama epitomises Shakespeare's Hamlet (Polonius advice to Laertes).
THOSE FRIENDS THOU HAST THEIR ADOPTION TRIED
GRAPPLE THEM TO THY SOUL WITH HOOPS OF STEEL
BUT DO NOT DULL THY PALM WITH ENTERTAINMENT
OF NEW HATCHED,UNFLEDGED COMRADE.


Mama was a very shrewd judge of character and ability which he had to be as he had to manage a political party(Swatantra),a Magazine plus MS Mami's career with so many sycophants--genuine and phonies swarming around --most of them eager to capitalise on their association with Mama and Mami. At the same time the ones whom he tried,tested and trusted --he will hold them close to his bosom--VKV belongs in that rare circle(I do not know how he got to know MS/Mama--I am under the impression that during the 1966 tour of the UN , VKV was of tremendous help although CVN was the host .Mama and mami would be ecstatic whenever a member of VKV's family visited them in Chennai. (did not need advance appointments etc) I would also venture to add that at no time did VKV ever capitalise on that relationship nor did he let anyone outside of his immediate circle know that he was close to the Sadasivams --these things NEVER escaped Mama's attention I am also sure if VKV ever wanted Mama to help somebody that VKV knew and needed help,mama would have obliged him forthwith. Again this goes to prove my earlier point about Mama's incessant advice about loyalty and gratitude.he always used to tell me is it not amazing there are so many good souls in the World and yet we talk and worry about the others!!

My mother always used to tell us how lucky we are in our family to have been part of the MS family when our credentials were NONEXISTENT!! very true!!! This is not MODESTY but HONESTY!!!!

likewise if somebody betrayed him for some low sum, even if the person tries to atone for it with millions,Mama would not relent!!!--no matter what high influential that person may become later in life.

Also Mama maintained a fine line between his political beliefs and tenets(expressed thro scathing editorials in Swatrajya and kalki) and friendships with the persons who were the recipients of the criticism. Example.

Once in the late Fifties at Rajaji's behest,mama wrote a scathing editorial indicting TTK(for those young rasikas TTK was T.T. Krishnamachari the Finance Minister of GOI and the father of the late T Vasu--former President of the Madras Music Academy) for some (what Rajaji thought) were faulty policies--the same week TTK visited Madras and as was his custom formally called on MS and Mama(they were good friends-TTK's family events always included Mama and Mami in some capacity not necessarily singing. I have been a witness to the visit when nothing but pleasantries were exchanged--neither attempted to influence the other or defend their positions--ofcourse Mami was oblivious of the fact that such heated exchanges had preceded the visit!!!

So much for the Friendship angle.

As for mami's not actively training disciples Mami herself as VKV so aptly pointed out was always learning--if it was a bengali song a bengali poet and a music teached would come to kalki gardes for weeks and months till she got the intonation right--The Anamacharya krithis--was a monumental project with kadayanallur Venkatraman painstakingly seting out the tunes and mami and Radha collaborating for days and weeks to get the accent right,the lyrics authenticity verified etc etc. There was no time between the VIP visits and the concertschedules for any teaching--however whenever she visited Bombay she would teach my sister--SriKanthimathim and other krithis--Likewise she taught my daughter(when mami was in her sixties) Vachamagochara(kaikavasi)..
Mami was also magnanimous enough to sing at the wedding reception of both my children when we celebrated both the weddings in Chennai(she was 80 years old at that time--I would say those were the last wedding concerts she had given!--in 1995/1996-- the following year mama died-1997) My sister and brother and myself were jealous that Mami could not sing in any of OUR weddings when she was much younger(each time Mami was laid up with some surgery or other!!). To our family they were God and Goddess always showering us all with affection and we could not reciprocate even onemillionth of that love and affection. I am sure there are several families close to the Sadsivams who can claim the same with justification and pride.

My brother Sekhar whom Mama and mami were equally fond of could write volumes if only I can coax him into writing-because between 1977 and 2004 when mami died,Mama and mami would visit my parents in RA Puram regularly (besides long phone conversations) where they were living with my brother. Besides Sekhar has one lording over me--he was a full-fledged Mridangam player(recipient of the Music Academy Junior Mridangist award in 1963,the President's award in 1965(AIR national Competitions)--as a result he played for Mami for several private friends' concerts Mama would introduce him as OUR ASTHANA VIDWAN

To put it in a nutshell Mama and Mami 's lives are the best testaments to nobility and compassion.

cmlover
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#50

Post by cmlover »

RMK
It is like a family member writing. I enjoy your literary quotes too as do our membership. I was a regular reader of Swarajya and was a fan of Khasa Subbarao's insightful writings. Didn't know of the TS connection. I will hold my political questions in check since I once wanted to join Swatantra party skipping Congress!

Folks
feel free to field your queries on MS or TS to RMK or VKV. This is a golden opportunity..

Why did it take such a long time for MS to be recognized or for her to sing at Mecca. Was the rift with TTK the reason? Or was it a Tamizh isai issue?

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