More music, hot on the heels of the previous post! Listen to this absolutely divine sukhi evvaro in kānaḍa. By my all-time favourite Madurai Mani Iyer. (N, having declared that you like kānaḍa, you’d better listen to this, okay? No excuses!) Violin is by Kumbakonam Rajamanikkam Pillai, and mridangam is by Ramanathapuram C S Murugabhupathy. It was buried somewhere in my iTunes library for a long time now, and has suddenly risen to the top of the charts.

What should strike the listener is the sheer joyousness of the music. I am in love with every bit here, but he made swara-singing his own. Volley after volley of swaras, making you feel that you are floating in an ocean of bliss, gently rocked by the waves! His inimitable ni pa ma ni pa ma ni pa ga ga, and most of the avartams ending ma pa ga ga. No wonder I go gaga over it! What is most striking happens at the end. When KRP plays the final avartam of swaras, MMI repeats after him! It is almost as if the violinist taunts him with ni . sa ri ri pa . played four times, and the vocalist joins him! Then ma pa ni ma pa ga .! After that you can hear Mani Iyer hum the notes to himself as Rajamanikkam Pillai’s play reaches a crescendo and ends brilliantly! What follows is even more touching: you can hear MMI laugh. More an outpouring of the joy that he cannot contain than a laugh! Hear it (somewhere in the last ten seconds of the piece) and you will know what I mean. And then goes on to say about Rajamanikkam Pillai: “Suru suru surunnu varaar!” inviting happy laughter from the audience, whatever that means! (I get the sense of what he is saying, but cannot explain it!)

I first heard this more than a year back, and thought this piece was beautiful. But I was listening to a lot of other things then, and failed to make a note of which song it was that has the “surusurusuru”. Then when I went to the MMI remembrance day last year, I walked in as someone was saying: “Surusurunnu varaar nu solraar paathela! Kumbakonam Rajamanikkam Pillayap pathi!” Now it’s rare to find a recording of Rajamanikkam Pillai, so I was keen to identify which piece it was, and tag it accordingly. From that time, I had been searching my MMI collection to see which piece has the “surusuru” at the end. Tried out all the RTPs that I have, but somehow missed this. Independently, I found a long list of MMI concerts with details about accompanists, dates, etc. somewhere online, and determined that at least two of my MMI albums had Rajamanikkam Pillai accompanying him. Just recently did it occur to me to listen to this album completely, and my joy knew no bounds to discover what I thought was a lost gem!

Please have a go at the music, and tell me if you felt as happy as I did! I was listening to sukhi evvaro again as I was writing this, and MMI has just now moved on to an RTP in śaṅkarābharaṇam. Yet another delightful piece with a beautiful pallavi (mandahāsavadana hare kṛṣṇa) and awesome renditions of sāraṅga, mohanam, begaḍa and sindhubhairavi in the swaras. I shall upload that later. Happy listening for now!



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