My all time favourite Veena player is (late) Dr. Chitti Babu. I probably still have the cassette which had his album named “Temple Bells” and then another one where I forget the name but it had the “cuckoo” composition. I was fascinated by the “cuckoo” composition and loved to hear Dr. Chitti Babu’s rendition of “Chinnan chiru kiliye” on the Veena.
Yesterday, his disciple Rajesh Vaidya brought back those memories as he played the “cuckoo” composition. First, Rajesh Vaidya is probably the most unassuming genius because 45 minutes before the start of the concert he was walking around the place in his track pants and a T.shirt !! We didn’t go up and say hello, but he probably would have happily interacted with us. It was great to see him introduce all his accompanists and we discovered another great talent – Satyanarayana, a young whizkid on the keyboard.
The Rajesh Vaidya concert was at the Sri YGP auditorium and part of Bharat Kalachar’s program for the December season. We had attended the U. Rajesh performance here. Unlike that performance the audience numbers were much higher for this concert. We had gone the day before to check if we will get the tickets but the people at the counter had already left for lunch. The lady security guard, Muthumani told us to come back on the concert day and she assured us of tickets. We left a card with her and yesterday we reached early to buy the tickets. She recognised us immediately and told the person at the counter that we had come the day before :). What a lovely smile she has and her assurance was good enough because we did get the tickets.
The concert started at 5pm exactly and the “vatapi ganapathim” that Rajesh Vaidya started off with was at a scintillating tempo !! We were in for a super treat. The great thing about Rajesh Vaidya was, he introduced his accompanists, and also spoke of what he was playing next. The “cuckoo” composition was so outstanding that my regret of not attending any of Dr. Chitti Babu’s concerts vanished. I think the real cuckoos will wonder how one of their species suddenly turned into this huge instrument – because the sound is so real. Rajesh Vaidya’s fingers play the Veena as though they are extensions of the instrument and don’t belong to him.
The Veena has a new synonym in him – kudos and thanks for an awesome concert. We are charmed.