- The Hindu - Nalinakanthi Concert Review
A new institution for fine arts has sprung up in southern Chennai. Named "Nalinakanti" it was inaugurated by Justice K. S. Bhaktavatsalam with the Director of Doordarshan and AIR, B. R. Kumar as the chief guest, at the MGR Janaki Arts and Science College for Women, Adyar recently.
Singing at the inaugural concert, Bombay Jayashri Ramnath included in her programme an RTP in Nalinakanti despite the raga's limitations. The pallavi line was, "Sri Lalite Mampahi Sive... Nalinakanti... " in Misra Triputa. There were ragamalika swaras in Ranjani, Nagaswaravali and Revati. Starting auspiciously with Dikshitar's "Srisaraswati" (Arabhi) and "Karunaidhiye Taye" (Bhowli Papanasam Sivan) Jayshri made a chic alapana in Sriranjani for Tyagaraja's ``Brochevarevare'' which has four two-line charanams extolling Lord Rama for His unmatched benevolence. To those gifted with manodharma Saveri offers unlimited scope for alapana. Jayashri showed her erudition when rendering the alapana most unhurriedly and progressing methodically. And what better song could she have chosen than Tyagaraja's "Rama Banatrana?"
The neraval and swaras at anupallavi posed a good challenge to the violinist Varadarajan who rose to the occasion. The answers were sharp and precise. While being soft and subdued for most of the time in the tani avarthanam, Ganapatiram (mridangam) came into his own investing a lot of vigour in the teermanams. With her sweet and malleable voice, Jayashri sang the Tamil kritis, "Kooviazhaithal" (Valachi-Vali) "Ennasolli" (Kanada-Ambujam Krishna) and "Ennatapam" (Hindustani Kapi-Papanasam Sivan) in a manner that brought out the spiritual fervour of the composers.
Lalgudi's Hamir Kalyani tillana came as the icing on the cake. � K.S.
- Singapore Alapana Arts - Interview
- Singapore Alapana Arts - Interview
An exclusive interview of Bombay Jayashri for alapana arts, Singapore by Mrs Aruna Srinivasan (April'02)
I have a dream…..
With professional carnatic musicians for parents, music runs in her genes. She has won several awards and has traveled widely for concerts under various organizations. Yet, she feels she still needs experience to reach heights.
She is among the ivy league of carnatic musicians today. But when you meet her in her residence at Valmiki Nagar, Chennai, the weight of celebrity status doesn’t seem to sit on her shoulders. she comes across as the person next door.
Simple, straightforward and eager to put you at ease.
A conversation with Bombay Jayashree about the carnatic music scene today.
1. Carnatic music has come a long way evolving over a period. The last few years have seen remarkable advancement in technology which has a great impact on the carnatic music scene too. What do you think about technology in classical music? Is it a boon or bane?
It is definitely a boon. There may be some who feel that music is not the same as it was years ago. You can’t help it. 50% of the audience today is in the 60 years category. They have heard music giants like G.N.B, Ariyakkudi and Semmangudi. It is only natural for them to compare the past. But at the same time, one must not forget that every aspect of life has undergone tremendous change over the years. Technology has changed the very way we live today. Take for instance, fixing music programmes. In those days perhaps the organizers traveled several miles to the musicians place, watched them as they went about their music practices, and then request them for the programme. Later they used to write letters sending out the invitation for a date. Soon dates were decided over phone and fax. And today it is SMS and e-mail. Technological changes have transformed the way we live. We can’t stay alienated from the changes.
2. What are the major changes you notice in this field?
I feel the duration of the programmes have changed. Earlier it used to be more than 3 hours. Today, every one is in a hurry and the connoisseurs as well as the musicians have several activities packed in a day. Also there are several forms of entertainment, other forms of music – all vying for their attention. In a world which has shrunk thanks to communications, those who come for the carnatic programme are well informed of several things about music, about the musicians and a whole lot of things. They know who sang what and where, they have heard A.R.Rehman in Hindi, they know which musicians have web sites, and they also know every detail about us. Even during the programme, their attention is diverted to various other things in their life. Under this circumstances, it is a challenge for our generation of musicians to sustain their interest. The packed halls prove that we still have audience. I feel that the situation has taken care of itself. I would attribute it to the crop of youngsters entering the field. Yet I agree that one cannot compare the present generation’s music to that of veterans of yesterday. Even today, I feel frustrated that I am not able to bring about that effect in my music. I hear Semmangudi’s music and go to a programme. I may sing the same song and raga. Yet it is not the same. When can I give that effect? I still strive. But I am proud that we are taking up the challenge.
3. What motivates you in your music?
Music is the only thing I know in life. I have always been very passionate about it. I didn’t plan it as my career in the beginning. I lost my father when I was young. And my mother always insisted that I learn music. She knew that music is the only thing I am good at. Like a horse with blinders, I was focusing on only music. And I loved it. But my mother made me join Commerce also. For a middle class families like ours, we needed a fall back - just in case I don’t make it in music. Earlier I wanted to go to a music college and we came to madras. But we dropped it and went back to Bombay to join commerce. Now, the actual defining moment came when I came to Chennai, to join the maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman to learn music. When he said that I have talent, that I have a great responsibility to music, I began to give my all to music. How could I let him down when he reposed so much faith in my music?
4. Could you share with us your experiences in fusion music and play back singing?
I sing in films only on and off. Some of them have fusion music too. Remember that “Vaseekara” number? I don’t have any plans to take to play back singing in a big way at this moment. As for fusion music, I have done an album – the number Naari…Naari.. - with an Egyptian singer. And another one for a Paris based company. But in all these fusion music, I do it in Tamil classical mode while the others give the western or other rendition.
5. What is your dream in life?
Yes. I have a dream. For those who want to take up music as career, our social systems still don’t offer proper climate. I dream of a situation when all those who want to pursue music as career can go on singing without bothering to take up commerce. I dream of a day when there is an exclusive 20 acres of land totally dedicated to nurture music talent.
6.Do you believe in nurturing young talent? Are you grooming next generation of musicians?
Yes. I have two such talented youngsters with me. I feel it is important to groom next generation - like passing on the baton. It is tough, and has joys and heartaches. Like bringing up a child. But it has to be done.
7.What is your advice for youngsters learning music?
To give good music you should be involved in it passionately. I have seen my Guru. Even when he sleeps or rests, his foot will be tapping. Such should be the involvement.
8. What were your proudest and most difficult moments?
My proudest moment was my most difficult too. About 10 years ago. It was the occasion of Kanakaabhishekam of Kanchi Paramacharya. I didn’t realize the significance of the moment when I was invited. But when I went there I realized that I was to sing sitting right in front of the Paramacharya and all music veterans like Semmangudi were seated in the front row. There was an anxiety in the air. I was just 22 at that time. Imagine my nervousness. I felt a chill down my spine and was thrilled too at the opportunity. Another such proud moment was when I sang in front of Sri Sai Baba.
9.By the way, what is the story behind your pre fix – Bombay? When and how did you get addressed like that first time?
In 1989, when I used to come from Bombay, one of the organizers didn’t know my initials. There was another Jayashree too. So, when they gave my name in the programme schedule, they identified me with the pre fix “Bombay”. And “Subhudu” had come for that performance. So, when he wrote about it, he mentioned me as Bombay Jayashree. It was like being called “Brahma Rishi” by the saint Vasishter himself. That’s all the prefix got fixed. But I encounter curious situations also. Some of those who call me from the US or West, sometimes call me Ms. Bombay, thinking that is my first name!
What do you look forward to in your forthcoming programme in Singapore for Alapana?
Yes. I am looking forward to singing for Singapore audience. I haven’t planned yet for the concert there. But I really liked the audience response there. The last time I gave a programme in Singapore was in 1995. It was an interesting experience. I gave a couple of new items and they received them very well. It was Asian Art Festival and I think I was the only other Indian singer besides Pandit Ravi Shankar.
- Aruna Srinivasan
- Bahrain Pulse - Bahrain Musical Workshop on Sep 24
- Khaleej Times - Indian Fine Arts, Bahrain Concert Review.