Thursday, December 30, 2004

Her [Master's] Voice

MS Subbulakshmi with daughter Radha
Originally uploaded by bharath.

On the 11th of December 2004, the world of Carnatic Music lost one of its best singers of all times. Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi popularly known as MS, and as kunjamma to people close to her, had left the world of mortals to stay immortal in all the households which start with her suprabatams and sahasranAmams everyday.

All this quite well known to most people who are inclined to indian music and culture and all that, what is more interesting and not very well known is that MS was also a accomplished vainika (vINai player) and also knew to play the mrudangam. She was known to lead a very simple live even beyond being an international renowned icon of indian culture and heritage. She was one who lived to give for charity amongst people who give away to chartity from their earnings. Her Life was very simple. She did not possess anything beyond essential needs. She was never known to have been lavish in anything. Anything she did from cooking, to cutting vegetables and doing anything at home had a perfection attached. Always dressed in neat plain silk saris with elegant borders, specially made for her, covering her shoulders with the saree, combed and tied hair with a string of jasmine or rose or some other fragrant flower around it, perfect circular kumkum and vibuthi on the forehead, bhakthi and bhavam in the music, that was what defined MS. In the earlier days, there was a special blue colour which was used to dye her silk sarees and this colour is even today called "M S Blue". It belongs to the most primitive set of 8 colours in which sarees were available in those days. (refer pic for the colour)

With everything else perfect, how could the music not be? Her music was one which never slipped off sruthi. Her pronounciations were perfect and the way she would split the lines to suite both the notes to which it is sung and the meaning was just right. She had a knowledge of quite a few indian languages, in which the carnatic compostions are all written. She also sang a lot of bhajans, abhangs and rabindra sangIth in her concerts.

MS was shaped to what she is known today, by her husband, T Sadasivam. MS was a perfect 'pativrata'. She did not even think what her husband did not tell her. From what she wore for her concert to what she would cook for food to what she sang in her concerts, it was decided by him and guided by him. He was responsible for her apprearing in films. She acted in the lead role in four films over a span of ten years. He made her choose concert career and leave the film industy. This man was completely responsible for all that we listen today. MS was a rebel and flee from her mother's residence to seek cover with Sadasivam who eventually married her. Without him, MS would have under her mother's guidance turned into a true follower of one of the oldest jobs, the indian society is known to have had. Behind this successful women there did exist this man who was instrumental in it all.

Though MS has left us all down here, She will continue to live in her Music.

MS Subbulakshmi as Meera in the film with the same name, released in 1945 in tamil and in 1947 in hindi.
Originally uploaded by bharath.

Bharath, that was a lovely ode to MS. She is still there with us. I listen to her songs every day. and its the most soothing feeling.

Just one small thing...its career and not carrier.

The blog also reminded me of the write up on MS by her grand niece recently on The Hindu newspaper.
i guess the entire carnatic world is MiSsing her...
Hey, nice da.

Me havent heard anything of hers except that Suprabhata... Just love that one... (esp at nights :-p)
Quite moving and even though I cant actually say Im a big fan of MS, I liked the post.
Beautiful post da.
I havn't heard much of MSS, but can appreciate what you are writing about.
I also had no idea she sang Rabindra Sangeets. Which ones has she sung? Do you have any with you? I would be very interested to hear them.
Once again...brilliant post:)
That was a lovely tribute to MS Subblakshmi..

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