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  • Writer's pictureShreya Nagarajan Singh


Updated: Jul 3, 2020

Author: Ranjani Swaminathan

Ranjani Swaminathan is a disciple of Trivandrum R.S.Mani in vocal Carnatic vocals. A graded AIR vocalist, she has given several sabha concerts and was a music and dance critic for The Indian Express (for fourteen years) and was also on editorial board of Sruti magazine. She continues to teach music to this day.

From a regular “oldie” (though not the “stick in the mud” type – I hope!) you will understand when I illustrate further…

When I first started writing reviews on music and dance for The Indian Express way back in 1972, I was given two pieces of advice – First by my father who told me – “Anyone who comes on to the stage to perform is an artiste (musician) – always respect that.” The second from “Master” Seshadri, assistant editor of Indian Express, who said, “Be harsh, if warranted, in your criticism but never ever be NASTY!”

Golden words indeed that I have followed and never forgotten and from this stand point while I respect all musicians and always look for the positives in their art, I have my personal favorites. (There are many from the “Golden Age of Carnatic Music” which I am not going into…) from the seniors in the present multitude of talented singers.

Vijay Siva: A Disciple of two greats – DK Jayaraman and DK Pattammal – I cannot do better than quote from Lakshmi Anand’s very well-written interview (cover story in the Friday Review, The Hindu, Dec 14th, 2018) who sums it up beautifully “total conviction, clarity of thought, unstinted devotion to Patantharam, wholehearted commitment to the cause of music and the courage to follow through – These make Vijay Siva stand out in the realm of Carnatic music.” These are what I look for in a singer, in his other music.

Sanjay Subramanyan: For that larger than life musical experience, his phenomenal creativity ever expanding rich repertoire, technical dexterity all go together to create that euphoria of grandeur, spaciousness that one associates with a bygone era! His is not the conventional melodious voice but rather that one has been honed over the years and smoothly harnessed the exacting demands of his music.

Malladi Brothers: Good voices, great musical instincts, rich, expressive singing, that is soothing as well as powerful. Same goes for Sikkil Gurucharan, one of the topmost popular singers, Trichur Brothers and Jayanthi Kumaresh, a gifted vainika, (recently heard a Rasika describe her as Veena Queen).

For rich, soul stirring melody you must listen to Bombay Jayashree – grace, beauty and vidwath combine together in a silken flow of music.

For invigorating, exhilarating music you have Ranjani & Gayatri, Gayatri Venkataraghavan and a host of very talented youngsters in the upcoming junior singers – Junior in age but not in their musicianship! – Like the twins, Aarati & Archana, Apoorva & Anahita and the Akkarai Sisters who like Ranjani & Gayatri have shifted from violin to vocal and doing very well too.

There is an abundance of musical talent in the boys section too – Bharat Sundar, Ramakrishnan Moorthy, Sandeep Narayan, Ashwath Narayanan, Vignesh Ishwar to name a few. All of them very responsible and beautiful singers.

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