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.


Sai Charan said...

Nice to know about such great musicians like "Smt.N.Rajam" through your blog.

Great that she has played with geniuses like Ustaad Bismillah Khan, Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan, Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia, etc.

Sandhyaji, Vividh Bharati channel of All India Radio is evergreen.

I tune to it on my mobile phone when special programmes, similar to the one you wrote about, are aired.

In spite of many new channels introduced by private players in the FM radio segment, still Prasar Bharati has its popularity as many loyal fans throughout the country listen to Vividh Bharati.

I grew up listening to it, my parents love it very much and my grand parents are crazy about it. We all start our day listening to Vividh Bharati.

Sandhya said...

Thanks Sai. All of us in our family still hear only Vividh Bharathi, esp. in the mornings. Bhoole Bisre Geet, Sangeeth Saritha, Thriveni is heard everyday and I work according to its time in the morning! I am hearing it from MY childhood. I have already written passionately about this radio station. FM is heard during driving!

Renu said...

I grew up listening to Vividh bharti, but now I cant, as her e i dont have a radio, plus I lost interest because of the language problem also.
Its nice to read about classical music and great people.

Sandhya said...

Unfortunately, we are able to hear Vividh Bharathi (clearly) only in our transistor, esp. in the mornings. Static irritates if we try to hear in our normal radio. Afternoon prog. can be heard better than the morning programmes in radio.

We hear mostly Hindi prog. in Vividh Bharathi even now. So you will like it, Renu.

Renu said...

I tried it in Hyderabad, it was just for 30 minutes in Hindi, rest telugu:), and then I stopped tuning:)

Sandhya said...

From morning 7 to 8 am, afternoon 12 or 12.30 to 3, Hindi programmes. At night, it must be from 9.30 or something. Aapki Farmaaishi is still there/here in Tamil Vividh Bharathi.

dharmabum said...

what frequency? let me know of other such programs...

music is the most divine creation of the Lord

Sandhya said...

Medium wave, 700 KHz something. I am hearing this programme from - god knows how many years - from my childhood, I think. My family appreciates carnatic, Hindustani and film music, because of my habit of switching it on from 7 am everyday (my son will give a BIG smile, if he reads this! From 6 to 7 am, Vishnu sahasranama and other shlokas and then this radio is on! I need music to work in the kitchen, period!! From 8 to 8.15 am, a Tamil prog. 'Ranjani Sriranjani' is there in which we can know about tamil film songs based on classical tunes. This too is good. I switch the radio off and my husband's 'zee business' is switched on!

This is Chennai vividh Bharathi. You can get Bombay station in short wave, I think.

Enjoy music, you will enjoy life, Dharma!

Shilpa said...

u've been tagged. :)

dharmabum said...

thanks for the information.

i thrive on a lot of music. i think it was because my parents wud listen to it, and then when i was a kid, they literally forced me to learn to sing carnatic music. ironically, i didn't like it then - for playing seemed more fun. now, i love it. so i guess i attribute my taste for music to my folks :) i like all kinds of music, except possibly pop and new film music. but i listen a lot from my laptop which i plug into speakers. and i do it the minute i step into my home from work, cooking or not!!

radio, well i switch on FM sometimes but its a lot of those RJ's talking and i get irritated. plus some really strange songs!! will try this one soon.

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