From Pt Jasraj to P S Narayanaswamy, top figures have exited the
cultural scene since August 15
Navaratri this time, however muted owing to Covid-19, looked poised for a positive
note with acclaimed classical musician Vinayak Torvi being honoured by the
Karnataka government. Hours before the septuagenarian Hindustani vocalist was
conferred with Sangeetha Vidwan at the inaugural ceremony of nine-day Dasara
programmes in Mysore Palace, an equally renowned Carnatic exponent died in
another heritage city.
P S Narayanaswamy, 86, breathed his last in Chennai on October 16, marking the
exit of yet another frontline disciple of a school that has effectively functioned as the
haloed mainstream of south Indian classical since the last century. Essentially
trained by legendary Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (1908-2003), PSN Mama groomed
a legion of disciples. And quite a few of them did go on to make it big today.
Bang in Thanjavur, mridangam exponent M Balasubramaniom died unexpectedly on
September 6, much to the grief of the art world. Subramaniom, 63, was serving as
the director of the South Zone Cultural Centre established by the Government of
India. Balasubramaniom was a native of Thiruvananthapuram, where he learned
under Mavelikkara Velukutty Nair. Balasubramaniom had served as the principal of a
couple of vintage music colleges in his native state.
One of those institutions was RLV Music College, which lost another percussionist
recently. Chenda master Kalamandalam Kesava Poduval served the academy’s
Kathakali section for 22 years from 1964. He was months short of turning 90 when
he died on October 10. Adept in both the solo chenda tayambaka concert and in
Kathakali percussion, Poduval was a native of Kudal village near Pattambi (not far
from Palakkad, where (Chembai Music College) Balasubramaniom had served as a
Covid-19 claimed both the lives, just as it did in with S P Balasubramaniam. A
Chennaiite much of his life (like was PSN), SPB was a popular singer who shone in
film numbers even as his Carnatic recordings for a few movies did win appreciation
from purists as well. SPB, 74, died on September 25.