Monday, February 23, 2009

Begum Parween Sultana - The Flawless Queen of Hindustani Classical music

Begum Parween Sultana! I must add her in my 'People whom I admire' list!

I had been to her concert yesterday. I have heard her concerts here, in Chennai, I think, thrice. I was not a very great fan of proper classical singing. When I started learning Carnatic music, my teacher was teaching my senior students, how to build the swaras step by step in the 'aalaap' stage, within the framework of the aarohana, avarohana of a raaga. I was very much fascinated by it. I loved her singing raaga 'Varaali' with 'aalaap' etc. Even now, I love that raaga.

Somewhere in between, I started liking Hindustani music. Maybe, Sangeeth Saritha's influence, or maybe childhood memories of hearing it, because of my father. All of us were teasing him for hearing 'aaaaaaaa' in those days! Nowadays I hear a lot of Hindustani music.

Now, to Parween Sultana. She has got a beautiful god gifted voice. I heard the first two songs which are in the videos, in yesterday's concert. The last one is pure classical music. But beautiful rendition. Please hear this one with medium volume. Esp. this type of song should be heard at night......divine music!

It is like I am at the concert again! The same tabla vaadak, Shri Mukundraj Deo and harmonium by Shri Srinivas Acharya. She said that she had been singing here from 1969 and this song is Chennai audience's pet song! They never allow her to leave, without singing this beautiful song. I get goose bumps whenever I hear this song and it happened again, yesterday, thanks to Begum Parween Sultana!

This 'Taraana' is like 'Thilllaana' in Carnatic music. The name of the raaga also is the same in both Carnatic and Hindustani - Hamsadhwani/Hansadhwani. 'Bhavani Dayani', was soft and melodius and the 'taraana' was making the whole audience nod their head.

The anchoring person said that enough time is not there for listing her accolades and awards. Whenever she comes to Chennai, she wins the hearts of its audience! If you are interested to here more music of hers, please click the link given below and enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My first tag - Knowing myself - random things about me

I am tagged for the second time - first by Renu (Sorry, I will write very soon!) and now by Shilpa.  I am asked to write 25 things about myself and then tag 25 people (oooh!).   Will I be able to do it?  Let me try the first one.  Do I have 25 friends in blogworld?  Not YET!  My heart is dhadak dhadakking (sing like Madhuri sang!).

1.  I am from Udupi and was there till my 5th standard.  But I remember a lot of my Udupi childhood days, funny!

2.  Later, we came to Madras (not Chennai!).   My mother was working as a librarian at the local Karnataka Sangha and used to bring Kannada books home.  So I was reading Kannada, Tamil and English books from childhood and hearing mostly Hindi and Tamil film songs when I grew up.  My father  was a Hindustani music fan and used to hear 10 p.m. radio programme of classical music (he was a Bhimsen Joshi fan!).  All of us (5 of us, brothers and sisters!), used to sing (not shruthi shuddha gaayan, though!) or hear music esp. Hindi film songs all the time.  So I am a music addict!

3.  I wanted to learn music - the dream was fulfilled at the age of 35!  I learnt music from 'sarali varisai' at that age for 2 years!

4.   I was reading a lot when my children were small.  I don't know how I was squeezing time, but read most of the famous authors when I was in Bangalore.  I still remember reading most of the Arthur Hailey, Irving Wallace, Jonathan Black, Sydney Shelden and old classics, getting them from the local library. I had to bring 2 books always because I and my husband were fighting to read the book first.  If he finished off first, he would threaten to reveal the climax, when I was half way through that book.

5.  Never touched 'Mills & Boon' books in my 20's.   I became an addict for those books in my 40's! My son used to say that he was ashamed of his mother reading crap books, but was bringing them from the library when he was going there to get books. I don't read 'Mills & Boon' anymore. This information is for you, bete!

6.  Then came Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham etc.  I have read almost all their books.  I like all of Eric Sehgal's books.  Some of David Baldachchi's books too.  I don't seem to be reading much now. Just read magazines and so my son presents me with books on my birthdays and so I am compelled to read them! And I really enjoy them, but think twice before getting more books from the library and read!

7.   I read the Tamil magazine, 'Ananda Vikatan' from the age of 12, I think.  Still am an addict to it and 'Junior Vikatan' too.  My children grew up reading 'Readers' Digest' - I have stopped it now, since I feel it is a bit boring nowadays.  'India today' was the favourite for some years and now 'Outlook'.  

8.  I am (my husband, too) a great fan of Sujatha, the Tamil writer and quote him often when I discuss about something.  I wrote a sort of review for his book and emailed him and got a reply, which is a treasure to me.  I am an admirer of Tamil writers, Ramakrishnan, Anuradha Ramanan, Gnani .....

9.  I feel I don't have enough self-confidence.  I think twice while taking decisions about anything. 

10  I love pets.  Had a pomeranian dog for 11 years  and now, have 2 black cats at home.  Zorro, the father (think so!) and daughter called E.T. She looks like E.T. (a character's name in the movie E.T.   She has huge eyes and big ears!).

11. I like Bombay Jayashree and M.S. Subbulakshmis' carnatic music and Kishori Amonkar, Veena Sahasra budhdhe, Jayanthi Sahasrabudhdhe, Parween Sulatanas' hindustani music.

12. As all of you know, by now, I am a Vividh Bharathi radio station addict.  I don't fancy FM stations mainly because of too much chattering and the Tamil they speak is horrible.  We don't get Hindi FM stations here - bore.

13. I like Hindi, Tamil Film songs - old and new.  Not very familiar with new Kannada songs, so love old songs mostly.

14.  I am interested in Politics - dirty politics! Watch TV news and read about them in newspapers, magazines.  Like you, Shilpa, I read, though not the newspaper, but 'Outlook' from the last page - Diary of the Editor.

15. Now, I am learning to write blogs (thanks to my son, who introduced me to this interesting world).   Am I improving?! Have to learn a lot, yet.

16. I am a bit of a health freak.  Never eat in-between meals, no oily foods....never liked them though I used to cook a lot from pizzas, cakes to Indian sweets and snacks, when the children were small.  Now getting bored to cook!

17. Not good at interacting with people!  I was a very reserved person earlier.  Now talk a lot and regret for talking more, later!

18. I am trying my best to be happy all the time, but get upset easily for small things.  Should change.

19. I too have a starting problem to do anything and everything.  Once I start, I surprise myself and feel I am not that bad!  I used to write 13 - 15 pages letters by hand, to my son, who went abroad when he was still young.  Thought that he should not feel homesick and so I used to write jokes also from 'Readers' Digest' in every corner of the pages and tick them in the books!Computers were not famous in those days. I still  remember attaching pages (photos of AMMA (Jayalalitha) with Sasikala, bedecked with jewellery) and some funny photographs of animals etc. I must ask him if he has got them even now! 

20. Long back, I used to watch a number of TV serials ...Hum Log, Buniyaad, Ados Pados, Nukkad, Saans, Bharath Ek Khoj ....  Later on, I became  an addict of 'Sa re ga ma' and other musical programmes.  Now these musical programmes are full of chatterings and they make the participants to wear lot of make-up and modern dresses and compel them to dance also!  Sonu Nigam was my favourite anchor.  I like Shaan also.  Now, I love watching just 'Balika Vadhu' and love 'Boogie Woogie'!

21. I was a fan of Dharmendra, in my school days!  Feel silly now.  I am having the pictures of him in my old scrap book (I have not thrown them out!).  

22. I like greeneries and hate to watch people felling trees to expand the roads and forget to plant new ones.

23. I had lived in 6-7 houses in different places in my 34 years of married life and in 5 houses, I had planted neem and gulmohar trees.  They are still there and am I happy  to see them when I go that side.

24. I dream of flying like the spider man, often!  I have seen the movie long back.  I feel as if the dreams are older than that!  Don't know why!

25. I would like to be a bit taller in my next birth!  I and my husband look like Amitabh-Jaya pair!

Huh, when I started writing this blog, I thought it was going to be tough getting points to write. Half way through, I noticed that Aarti of 'my space' also has tagged me for the same blog.   Thanks, Shilpa and Aarti.  Am I upto the mark, I don't know.   This is my first tag (blog).    Now I will write the 'favourite music' tag and Renu's too! And my blogger friends are already tagged for the same title!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Prof. N. Rajam, Hindustani Classical violinist

Again I am  going to write about my favourite radio programme in Vividh Bharathi, 'Sangeeth Saritha'!
As I had written in my earlier post about this programme, we come to know about the Hindustani classical singers - how they grew up, how they did the riyaz (practice), what opportunities they had, to show themselves to the world, how they maintain their voices, who their teachers were, the personalities they admire, etc.etc. for 15 mts. (7.30 to 7.45 am) in 13-14 episodes.

Today morning was the last episode (14th) of 'Meri Sangeeth Yathra' of Dr.Padmabhushan Smt.N.Rajam, Hindustani Violinist. She was the Principal of Banaras Hindu University, now retired. Her whole family is famous in Carnatic music - her brother T.N.Krishnan, is a famous Carnatic classical violinist. I had been to his concert here in Chennai and the concert was superb. She is from Thiruvanathapuram but studied in Chennai. Got her doctorate from Banaras Hindu University. She learnt violin from her own father Shri Narayana Iyer, who was a famous violinist and veena vaadak. He was a very good teacher and taught her some new techniques which were not prevalent in violin vaadan in those days. She was good in studies also and got a double promotion in 4/5th standard and so she was not 15 years complete, for writing the S.S.L.C. exam. She had to wait for one more year. So her father joined her in Banaras Hindu University to complete her intermediate. This was a turning point in her life. She was learning Carnatic music from the famous musician Shri Musiri Subramanya Iyer, who taught her the intricacies of raaga development. She was a student of Shri L.R. Kelkar (Hindustani Classical) who was in Chennai at that time.

Her style of playing was entirely different from others - her's was the 'gaayaki style' means she was playing as if the sound was flowing from a human throat. She was able to express the emotions from her bow, which others were not doing at that time. Her type of playing violin became famous. She admired Pt.Omkarnath Thakur (famous Hindustani Classical singer) a lot and dreamed of becoming his student. Then she got the opportunity to play violin in front of him and he was very impressed and took her as a disciple and her next stage of learning new techniques in raaga development started and is still continuing...

She had played jugalbandhi with Ustaad Bismillah Khan (I should write a blog about him separately - we call him 'namba thaaththaa' means our grandfather, affectionately!) which we heard in this programme. We couldn't make out the difference between the sound of Ustaad's Shehnaai and Dr.Rajam's violin. They blended together so beautifully. I got goose bumps when I was hearing it. She had played with Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan (Sarod), Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia (flute) and Prof.N. Ramani (flute). She is proficient in Hindustani as well as Carnatic classicals equally, which she played and showed in this programme.

When Nimmi Mishra, who was the interviewer (who was an admirer and was visible from her voice!) asked her how she was maintaining her hands for playing violin for long hours, Dr.Rajam said that her father had instructed her when she was a child pupil, that she should never touch detergents like soap, washing powder etc. (she said laughingly that she escaped from washing clothes and cleaning vessels at home). and the hands should be very soft.  She said that she did her best as a teacher, wife and a home maker. Her favourite raagas are Darbhaari and Desh. We were lucky to hear her playing both these raagas in this programme. It was as if Smt.Kishori Amonkar or Smt. Veena Sahasrabudhdhe were singing. The style was so intriguing.

These 'Sangeeth Saritha' programmes are produced by Kanchan Prakash SANGEETH! The producer and the interviewer must be enjoying their profession, wherein they meet so many eminent musicians and are becoming famous in their own way and get paid for it! Our whole hearted thanks are due to them for familiarising us with so many artists - I hear this programme in the morning in my kitchen, mostly while making chapaathis! I am not a classical singer or something, but just lucky enough to know how to enjoy good music.  My whole familily - my husband and my 2 sons - enjoys good music.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Your Bank Account - An Old Beginning With a New End

Story time, now, with a beautiful message:

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 80 years, recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.

As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

'I love it,'
he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

'Mr.. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait.'

'That doesn't have anything to do with it,' he replied.

'Happiness is, something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged .. it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.

Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes are open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy
memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life.

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in.

So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories!

Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank.

I am still depositing. Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.

2. Free your mind from worries.

3. Live simply.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less.

I got this article, via email from my niece. I loved this message but will I follow it at least 50%?! If I do, I will be the happiest person, I know.

My mama, when he was in his 70's used to be happy all the time. Maami told me later that the joints in his hands and legs are very painful but he doesn't talk about it to anyone. I asked mama, why so? Normally, old people like to talk about their ailments and the younger ones will try to show more concern. My mama said "These pains are age related. I have stopped all the treatment after trying them for sometime. I am on just painkillers now. If I am going to live for some more years, I am not going to hurt my children talking about my pains." Now he is no more. He used be the first person to wish us on Deepawali day, Ugadi (Kannada New Year starts on this day) etc. I still remember him doing 108 full stretch namaskaras (pranams) in front of the pooja room, after coming back from his shop at night (he had a book shop in Udupi, selling shloka books, Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavatha etc. (hard bound copies). He used to converse in Sanskrit also, fluently. I still miss him, when I go to Bangalore.

Hmm...I hope to try to be happy and make others happy....try...try...try...!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Wednesday - A must watch movie!

I watched this movie, 'A Wednesday' 5 days back. Even now I am thinking and talking about it! The story and the acting by all the actors, has moved me so much that I am asking whoever I meet, to see this movie!

Prakash Rathod (Anupam Kher) is the Mumbai Police Commissioner who is going to retire in a few days and when asked about the case he remembered as the best case he had handled, he narrates how the case started with just a call saying that 4 bombs have been planted in different parts of Mumbai. The caller says that, in return of 4 terrorists, the location will be informed. And the story begins....

When I first heard about this movie, I never expected much from it but believe me, this movie is really special for me. This is not the usual masala movie with songs & dance sequences. No female characters at all. No dramatisation of the story. No comedy track, nothing. This story shows a new way to handle terrorism, you can say.

Naseeruddin Shah, my favourite actor, as usual, has done his best. I am not familiar with Jimmy Shergill, but he seems to be a good actor. I have seen Aamir Bashir in some serials and he is good. The girl who acted as a TV anchor was funny, I thought, but she too had done her job well.

Remember to watch the dialogues, esp. the last 15-20 mts. This is definitely a masterpiece which deserves at least to be nominated for an Oscar!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Australian Open Tennis Final Match 2009 - Nadal vs Federer!

So, the Australian Open Tennis Championship has come to an end with lot of emotions on the part of the players and the viewers alike! I reaslized later that I too had tears in my eyes when Federer cried. We think that players like Borg, Sampras, Federer etc. are hard core people whose thoughts are aimed at winning, winning and winning. They never express their feelings like Agassi, McEnroe (I like them very much because they are good players plus very emotional like small children!) and the Williams sisters. I admire the Williams sisters for their consistency in winning - they must have put so much hard work behind their winning the trophies - so many of them together!

We can understand what Federer's feelings must have been when he was crying so much - he must have put so many years of hard work to win the Grand Slams continuously and losing must have been a shock to him and it is slowly happening often! He is 27 now and Nadal is 22 - the future is for Nadal, mostly for the next 3-4 years at least. Federer has poured out his emotions this time and he will accept his age, which is a week point for players of his calibre.

Nadal also is an emotionless face and this time he has won the trophy by sheer hard work but Federer has won the hearts of the spectators and people like us who watch them play, on TV and stole the show! I felt bad for Nadal also because he was not noticed for winning the trophy but Federer cried and cried and this match will be remembered for that, I think!

We ordinary people still remember Connors, Stephan Edberg (do you know - the tennis player symbol which comes in a corner of the TV screen of the Australian open, is of Edberg who is like a text book for tennis, it seems!), Borg, Agassi, Sampras, Chris Evert Lloyd, Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Seles and so many others. Federer will be included in the list! Hope he will play good matches for some more years!

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