For the past three evenings we have been attending some or the other play or concert as part of the ongoing Chennai December music season.
Sunday was a laughter riot as “Crazy” Mohan and his brother entertained a packed house RamaKrishna Mission school’s Infosys hall. Their play “Google Gadothgajan” is fun, fast paced and there are puns on every topical issue – award wapasi, Chennai rains, the internet itself and even the not so cool topic of religious conversion. All this is done in “Crazy” Mohan’s trademark style – punch lines coming fast and thick, with a deadpan expression on his face, which makes you laugh harder. They manage to deliver the entire play with just a few people and minimal props and still manage to keep the audience engaged throughout. Do go and watch this play as it makes the rounds of the various sabhas.
Monday evening, we spent listening to the Saxophone maestro Kadri Gopalnath. Kumari Kanyakumari accompanied him on the violin and the concert was held at the Kamaraj Arangam. Krishnan and I were here last some 20 years back when we attended the legendary Illayaraja’s concert which he conducted … He was and remains a reclusive legend. The entrance of the Kamaraj Arangam has been taken over by realtors and insurance brokers/agents. You can collect a 100 page booklet using all the flyers that each stall gives you !! A wax statue of (late) Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is kept on display at the entrance. On the left of the hall a food festival has been organised and just as you enter this space, there is an Eiffel Tower replica made with drumsticks… I guess it’s fitting in a way since the French food is supposed to be for the connoisseurs. You get nothing remotely French in the food festival though – it’s Indian fare, not just South Indian but even pickles from Rajasthan.
The concert started exactly at 7.30 pm and while we got seated, for the next 20 minutes or so, people kept moving about trying to find their seat or leaving the hall. I don’t know how they can get this sorted because it disturbs the other viewers and since the lights are on, the musicians can see as well. They seemed unperturbed though :):). Kadri Gopalnath makes the Saxophone look like an easy instrument to play, and Kanyakumari’s violin does her bidding, period. While everyone was enthralled by Dr. Kadri Gopalnath’s ability to use a western instrument like the Saxophone and play Carnatic music on it the one who stole the audience’s hearts was the Morsing Vidwan Rajashekhar. During the Tani Avarthanam (when each of the accompanists plays solo) Sri Rajashekhar just stole the show. The Morsing is a percussion instrument that’s losing ground but with Vidwans like Rajashekhar, hopefully it will survive for any years. He got a spontaneous loud applause as he played solo. Overall the concert was just mind blowing.
Yesterday, after meeting Rajesh, we went to hear Mannargudi M S K Sankaranarayanan and M S K Venkatesan on the Nadaswaram… Little knowing that we were also going to listen to the foremost thavil maestro A K Palanivel. Only when you see the Nadaswaram being played you realise it requires enormous breath control – the sound is sweet to the ears, but mastering this wind instrument is no mean feat. The brothers were brilliant and then the Thavil maestro A K Palanivel took off – just unbelievable. This genius is so humble that at the end of the performance he thanked the sparse audience that had turned up to hear him play. Read about him on this link – Master of rhythm.
What is sad is the fact that there were hardly 20 people in the hall to listen to these maestros. Wish Chennaites come out and appreciate these amazing musicians, many concerts are free, like this one yesterday. While Brahma Gana Sabha has tickets online and I had booked them, they refunded the money at the venue.
Tomorrow we go to hear Sanjay Subramanyam. We are so looking forward to it.