Bless him and his Balance      Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan                              After the (T)errible (M)istake of my thankfully aborted experiment with Krishna’s Katcheri on 4th Dec,2022, it was back to a sane and serene day. To listen to a man with next door looks and normal  behaviour on stage. A very ordinary man, made good by sheer hard work, diligence and devotion to a profession, he believes, is divinely ordained for him. He is respectful,regarding and reverential of his blessings.

Bless him and his Balance

Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan

 

 

 

 

After the (T)errible (M)istake of my thankfully aborted experiment with Krishna’s Katcheri on 4th Dec,2022, it was back to a sane and serene day. To listen to a man with next door looks and normal  behaviour on stage. A very ordinary man, made good by sheer hard work, diligence and devotion to a profession, he believes, is divinely ordained for him. He is respectful,regarding and reverential of his blessings.

 

The key for his success and having a receptive audience is BalanceIn life, as in singing. Just no one, not even one, has a harsh word or even a semblance of a bad word for him. He looks the part. A Balanced individual .Sings the part. A Balanced singer who never goes overboard either in mannerism or in delineation of the raga. He does not keep you guessing while traversing the octaves as a skilled trapeze artiste .He keeps it simple and pure. He is so refreshing as an ordinary mortal, so welcome, in the world of make believes of the double faced Jekyll Hydes in life and on stage. While ‘they‘ love to be fawned (even if frowned) N Vijay Siva is truly embarrassed and makes you feel comfortable. Off and on stage, he keeps it straight and formulaic. Sheer dedicated and devoted Balance. Lest you wonder, he is as manodharmic in innovating.  He does it with silken finesse and not brutal biting.

 

He is steeped in tradition and wears our cultural heritage and understatedness, on his sleeve,both physically and metaphysically, with passionate pride. Most, unlike our friendly neighbourhood ‘urban naxal’( for want of better word, please)  TM  Krishna who revels in making news for all the wrong reasons. Surely, it would be sacrilege and blasphemy for Vijay Siva to commence with Mangalam and end with Mahabganapathim invocation, as only TMK can. Or wear a red and black collarless T shirt. And the accompanists sit where they belong.

 

Most importantly, he does not bite the lyrics or stretch them or mutilate them in the name of ‘sounding old’. He sings as he ought to, for his age. He sits erect. Looks straight in the eye. A yogic posture. No shifty eyes. And sings with Devotion, with a Capital D, more than any other attribute. Each song is an offering to the Divine and Prasadam to the audience. And lets the swarams and patterns hang out, long enough for the rasika to drink it. And carry home some too. And that dear reader, comes from equipoise (a word and world he swears by).

 

A brisk start with Sagalabhuvananayaga- was typical Vijay Siva.To get into groove,  he begins with a prayerful tune with class written all over it- and bears the DK Pattammal and DK Jayaraman stamp which he lovingly flaunts, as Gurudakshana. Such respectful reverence that  one is sure is the only baggage he carries to the stage, is their blessings-and not ‘notes papers’ or Iphone or Ipad to jog the memory, just in case, which he avowedly abhors.

 

And then to reiterate, he regaled the not so full Hall with such passion that he took you to the sanctum sanctorum of the gods and goddesses, to pray with him. He wore a pale yellow Jhubba without a collar, for he never needs to raise it, over a Khadi veshti,even as he collars each Krithi and raga. The audience is always treated to a concert of sublime beauty but the beauty lies in his suggesting, as if anyone could sing like him. It was so effortless. Simple because he was communicating with the Almighty in verse, which we may all be doing in words. No difference? Sorry, lots of difference.

 

In cricket too, Sir Don Bradman in his magnum opus Art of Cricket talks of nothing but Balance, Balance and Balance. 59 test matches, 6996 runs- out last ball of his career bowled by Eric Hollies- for Zilch-hence  career average of 99.96 not 100. He wrote on suggestions that his misty eyes, emotionally overcome on his last appearance, was the cause, ‘Sorry, gentlemen and ladies, Simple, I lost my Balance”. One faculty that keeps you grounded even as you excel in your field and achieve prominence and lets you perform with unrivalled consistency. Ever rock solid dependability.

 

Carnatic music is divine. It is pure. At the hands or mouths of a Puritan as he. Anyone can train and practice. But not everyone can ‘sing’ and ‘sing the song of life’ with Balance. Only some are given that gift. And that, one dare say comes from Devotion, Dedication, Discipline, a 3D phenomenon, surely not nonchalance and arrogance. No wonder, it is the likes of him that have contributed immensely to UNESCO adding Chennai to the chain of Creative Cities Network in the world, in 2017.

 

Simplicity is the name of his game and he believes in being traditional and his value set as man and artiste is possibly born of all the photographs of freedom fighters hung on the walls of his home. They don’t merely adorn the walls. He wears them inside his heart and mind as his repertoire reveals.

 

There is that subliminal element of undeniable authenticity. He is so proud of our cultural and national heritage. Not disdainful or disrespectful of them. His voice culture is so sweet that one wonders if he would ever have had even a sip of ice cream lest his voice was even remotely scarred. He must be so protective of his esophagus , as if a deity deified.

 

Trust him to bat with a straight bat a la Rahul Dravid. Not one syllable out of place and Sruthisudham every performer aspires to posses. His renditions are a serene flowing river -after he had caressed it in the raga alapana. It was a Dravid cover drive, turf hugging, and ever so delicately played and placed with no brute force .Sheer timing to bring it to fruition for a fulsome impact on the connoisseurs and the masses, simultaneously.

 

As he breaks into the Krithis, it is akin to boat ride, a tour de force on a moonlit night, so cool and calming. For a lawyer, predictability and precedents are sacrosanct. That  is why any day you pick and choose his concert, for he is one most likely never to disappoint. It hardly matters he is not a ‘star’, for he is too reticent and hesitant to twinkle, though for the genuine rasika he always sparkles.Bless him and his Balance.

 

( Author is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court)

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