Shri Gurubhyo Namaha
Seethalakshmi Venkastesan a doyen in the field of Carnatic music, was my guru till her demise in 2012. Her music was rooted in classicism. As a teacher she was firm yet her love for her students and the music came through in the sheer effort she made. As a person she was the very essence of warmth and affection. Her unique skills as a teacher was recognized by the Madras Music Academy with the Sangeeta Kala Acharya award. To learn more about her read here.
I was fortunate to learn kritis from Shri V. Subrahmaniam whenever I visited Chennai from the US. A torchbearer of the Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer padantharam, Shri V. Subrahmaniam always made time for me despite the short duration of my visits. I learnt numerous gems in the best Semmangudi baani. He also taught me how the choice of kritis and their right sequencing made a big difference to the success of a concert. To learn more about him read here.
When I moved to Chennai to focus on music after my college graduation, I trained from Shri O.S.Thyagarajan. A purist in style, with an extraordinary raganubhava, he taught me how to explore the various facets of a raga. The term ‘raga alapana’ took a whole new meaning for me.
Lalgudi Smt. Rajalakshmi
In the late nineties when I was in Bangalore, I learnt from Lalgudi Rajalakshmi, sister of Shri. Lalgudi Jayaraman and a well-known violinist in her own right. Smt Rajalakshmi took a lot of interest in her students and constantly encouraged me to spread my wings by participating in music competitions, exams and new audio releases. She was instrumental for the release of my first commercial audio cassette Dasa Sangama with another student and AIR artiste, Hema Ranganathan. To learn more about Lalgudi Rajalakshmi watch this interview here.
A well known radio artiste in Mumbai, Prema Raghavachari took me on as one of her few students. I learnt the fundamentals of raga alapana and neraval rendition from her. She became a lifelong family friend and taught me performance techniques beyond the theory of music.
One of my first gurus, Shri N.S.Chandrashekar, heard me sing at a navaratri kolu in Mumbai when I was in my early teens and decided to take me on as his student. His style was reminiscent of the Kancheepuram Nayana Pillai school and his repertoire included several rare krithis. A great teacher, NSC was meticulous in his approach and much to my chagrin then, insisted on taking classes even during my school exams! The life lessons that I picked up from him such as perseverance and discipline continue to guide me even today.