Saturday, September 16, 2017

drama on Thyagaraja at Bharathiyar memorial ~ remembering NKT Muthu : SYMA

பல சமயங்களில் கர்நாடக இசை கச்சேரிகளில்  துவக்கத்தில் பாடப்படும் 'ஆபோகி' ராகத்தில் - சபாபதிக்கு வேறு தெய்வம் சமானம் ஆகுமா !  என்ற பாடல் ஒலித்தது மஹாகவி சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதி வாழ்ந்த திருவல்லிக்கேணி இல்லத்தில்.  

இப்பாடலை இயற்றியவர் கோபாலகிருஷ்ண பாரதியார். Gopalakrishna Bharatiyar a Tamil Poet and composer of Carnatic music breathed his last in 1896.  The great Tamil Poet, freedom fighter Subramaniya Bharathiyar was born in 1881 and passed away in 1921 (not sure whether they could have met)   ~ this post is different – on an event organized by SYMA in memory of late Mr NKT Muthu, at Barathiyar memorial Triplicane on 10th Sept. 2017.

The ability to express thoughts through sounds has evolved into an art which we call music.  Carnatic music emphasizes the voice and singing, accompanied by the tambura, violin, mridangam, gadam, Veena and more.  The raga style is commonly used, and improvisation is common.  Three forms are hailed : Iyal, Isai, Nattiyam [Prose, Poetry and Drama] .. .. a couple of centuries ago, when talented musicians were so many and most sought the patronage of Kings and Barons, lived Thiyagaraja eternally devoted to Lord Rama and who sung thousands of kirthanas.

It was our fortune to watch an emotionally moving performance – a drama on Saint Thyagaraga hailed as Thyagabrahmam, the  greatest composer of Carnatic music, who was so attached to Lord Rama  and  composed thousands of devotional compositions, most in Telugu and in praise of Lord Rama.  Way back in 1946 there was a musical movie ‘Tyagayya’ produced and directed by Chittor V. Nagaiah considered as masterpiece in Telugu cinema. Years later, in 1981 came the Telugu movie Tyagayya with Somayaju in lead role.  The one that moved us was the drama by TV Varadarajan and his troupe.

Srinivas  Youngmens Association, in service to the Society since 1977 organised this – it was remembrance of NKT Muthu who passed away last year.  Late Muthu is well known to Triplicane residents.  He   started the Thiruvateeswarar Sabha in 1952; later took organizing stage dramas to a great height.   NKTM was the first to introduce hero cut-out concept publicity format for dramas by erecting R.S. Manohar's mythology title role cut-outs all over Triplicane, illuminating it with serial sets. He was the first person to conduct drama festivals.  Associated with NK Thirumalachariyar stage,  NKTM's meticulous planning and publicity strategy  ensured that NKT hall was always full of thousands of people for every show conducted by him.

On stage were : Vicku Vinayakaram, Kathadi Ramamurthi,  M Krishnamurthi, TV Varadharajan, TJ Ramani and NKT Jayagopal.  Yours Truly compered the programme.

Thetakudi Harihara Vinayakram (popularly  Vikku Vinayakram) is ghatam exponent, Padma Bhushan, winner of many a awards including  Grammy Award, truly son of Triplicane could easily be the man of the century of its residents.  The winner of so many awards is always composed and humble.  Kathadi Ramamurthi, comedian, stage artist is considered Sherlock Holmes of India, famous for his role in Devan’s Thuppariyum Sambu among many.  Of the important sabhas, Sri Parthasarathi Swami sabha founded by Mani Thirumalachariyar in 1900 occupies pride of place, Mr Krishnamurthi has been its secretary for more than 25 years now.  TV Varadharajan, news reader of Doordarshan,  stage artist is another famous son of Triplicane.  TJ Ramani, is the founder, President of SYMA.  NKT Jayagopal is the worthy son of late NKT Muthu, philanthropist, social activist, now running Bihar school of Satyanandha Yoga.

Rich tributes were paid to late NKT Muthu by every speaker.  Muthu has patronized SYMA right from its initial days and last year he was recipient of SYMA sewa award too.  SYMA members have great memories of many good deeds of Muthu in support of the organization.  Jayagopal thanked all for attending the meeting.  Living in Triplicane, have watched many a dramas – yet this musical drama composed,  directed and enacted by the renowned T V Varadarajan and his 20 odd members had a deep emotional impact – hearing to quality Carnatic music and knowing the tragic circumstances and of great compositions from the life of Sri Thyagaraja – it was a great performance.   

A stage drama is difficult enactment – made tougher by a smaller stage – yet the rendition was perfect.  The change over of scenes, the depictions, the sound of music, the performance of artistes – all a class that had the audience spellbound.  Varadharajan donned the title role mesmering the audience with soulstirring performance  depicting the attachment of saint-composer to Lord Rama, especially in his old age.  The music by classical singer Bombay Jayashri, aptly putting the kritis of Thyagaraja was attractive to the hilt.  The storyline was simple drawing us emotionally to the life of Thyagaraja, the time he lived, the patronage of King of Thanjavur, his travels, his singing of Lord at various places and more.   

All the artistes be it Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman; Thyagaraja , his wife, his disciple, his elder brother and his wife; the King and his courtyard – the roles were perfectly portrayed – with scenes changing fast, calm and endearing music – and when it drew to a close, our hearts were filled with emotion.  Dr MA Venkatakrishnan upon completion of the stage drama, appreciated Varadhajan and his troupe, recalling his relationship with father of Varadharajan and spoke of some interesting anecdotes including the Saint’s visit to Sri Parthasarathi temple and of the Ekantha seva performed those days during Irapathu uthsavam.

SYMA thanks all the dignitaries who were on stage, TV Varadharajan and his troupe, NKT Jayagopal and all those who attended the memorial event.  Here are some photos of the drama. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Sept. 2017.

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