Friday, June 10, 2011

Krsna Naama Rasana. A musical offering from the family of Jaya and Madhavan

It all began with Krsna’s poonal function (the sacred thread ceremony). What initially was meant to be a quiet Sunday morning family affair to celebrate Krsna’s initiation into Gayatri mantra instead suddenly clicked in our (Krsna’s parents) heads as an opportunity and a context to celebrate the close knit family’s warmth, laughter and inclusive love for each other. And since both sides of the family enjoy abundant musical talent (vide Family Music tree), what better way to memorialize the occasion and transform the event into a communion than through music? Thus the idea for Krsna Naama Rasana, a musical compilation based on Lord Krsna was born; where a garland of songs would be strung for the family's favourite deity Krsna with musical contributions from the family and those special friends who are family to us. At a basic level, almost everyone in the family can hold a pitch, follow a beat and effect a song. But starting with the bathroom singers as we moved up the family (music) tree, we found discerning rasikas, singers, instrumentalists, percussionists, music collectors, music professors, musicians, lyricists, composers and even vaggeyakaras- each one engaging with music at his/her level of comfort, investment, pace and talent. From pop to devotional to Hindustani to Carnatic the family seems to have spread its love for music across genres, across instruments and across forms. While for most it was a passionate hobby, there were yet a few family members who despite other career commitments had remarkably made it to the professional rung of music with grading from AIR and regular concert performances. Since, family, fun and festivity through music is the underlying spirit of Krsna Naama Rasana, the compilation features both- the professional musicians in the family and the hobbyists. A special thanks to our friends T.V.Ramprasadh, Vishnu Ramprasad, Mridangist Arjun Ganesh and Guitarist Vedanth Bharadwaj for their valuable addition to the CD. Enjoy an eclectic collection of songs panning over many forms and genres rendered by a family which now believes that “the family that sings together stays together”.

Family Music Tree

Krsna Naama Rasana has performers who are the children and grandchildren of Violinists R.S.Gopalakrishnan, V.K.Venkataramanujam, Dr.V.Balaji, Kalaimamani Seetha Doraiswamy and N.Visalakshi. Simply put, the family gets its music from these fountainheads.

It is aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins of Madhavan and Jaya who have joyfully contributed to the album. While some immediately scrambled out of their musical inertia and readied their songs, some felt they were not "professional" enough to appear in an album and there were yet others who sceptically observed that the album was better off showcasing only the professional musicians from the family. To all of these responses we had only this to say- "If indeed only cuckoos and nightingales must sing, then the woods would have no voice at all".

It is this spirit of inclusiveness and collectivism that Krsna Naama Rasana wishes to commemorate. The album has plural voices and plural forms (original compositions, kirtanas, devarnama, namavali, abhang, bhajan, bandish, folk songs, instrumental solos, Hindi-pop and even lullabies). But put together it is the single voice of a closely knit musical family.

About the song and the singer

Seetha Doraiswamy

The oldest contributor in the CD is our Paatti, Jaltarang artiste Kalaimamani Seetha Doraiswamy who has performed Jaltarang concerts extensively in India and abroad. When she found all of us bundling into a car to go to the studio, she adamantly said, “nanum varuven, nanum paduven” (I will also come and I will also sing).

Sukumara sundara is a song Seetha Paati learnt at the age of ten from a gramophone plate titled Kuchelopakyanam released by AVM in 1936. She taught around 16 songs from the Kuchelopakyanam album to Jaya, her granddaughter to help her kill time creatively during an illness.


She is one of those spontaneous singers known for her unbridled singing in unexpected spaces, like a roadside temple, to patients in hospitals and to the Devi at Kanchipuram during the all night Pournami Puja. A retired employee of CLRI and a B high AIR artiste, Visalakshi (70) began composing songs post retirement. Visalakshi has two albums featuring her own compositions titled Chintayamyaham and Saranam.

She says “I don’t plan to compose. Songs just happen….” Hare Krsna is a song that came to her one night just before she fell asleep.


Daughter of violinist R.S.Gopalakrishnan and mother of G.Madhavan, Ranganayaki is an ardent rasika of Carnatic music and is conversant with many chants and slokas. She has brought many a lullaby into circulation in the family. Mannupugazh is one such.

S. Rangamani and G.Sethuraman (a.k.a Rangamani Manni and

Raman Mama), the singing couple are the oldest children of Violinist, Late Sri. V.K.Venkatramanujam of Benares and Late Sri. R.S.Gopalakrishnan respectively. Manni has been a music teacher all her life and Mama gets his inspiration to compose songs from his favourite deities and favourite ragas. Both Muruganai and Anjana Putra featured here are his own compositions.


Disciple of Sri.D.K.Jayaraman and Sri.P.S.Narayanaswamy, Madhavan is an A grade AIR artiste and a regular performer in Chennai’s music sabhas. He is a self learnt music restorer and an ardent collector of music. Madhavan is best loved for his full throated and emotive singing. He hopes to release season II of Krsna Naama Rasana….

Jaya Madhavan

Poet and novelist, Jaya loves Bhajans, Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi and Shyama Sastri’s kritis. She prefers to sing in temples and/or for herself (and she should have remained there.) Her latest musical achievements include getting her Tambura Tambujam Krishna repaired and taking Krsna Naama Rasana participants to lunch at Mansukhs and Saravana Bhavan on Venkatanaryana road.


Flute, Mridangam, Sitar……Kannan has learnt various streams of music and spread his love for the note and rhythm across instruments. He is the surprise participant in the CD and the singer of the super-hit song Nanda Balam.

Karthik Ganesh

This Bollywood cinematographer excavated both his voice and a song from his childhood days to sing for this album. A Jaltarang player and a fantastic whistler, KG has an extremely keen ear for background scores. His knowledge and critique of Illayaraja’s film music borders on the scholarly.

Vasu Dixit

Founder and vocalist of leading Indi-Pop band Swarathma, Vasu Dixit’s speak of his sensitive engagement with life, while his stage act speaks of the natural showman he is. Trained in Carnatic Classical music, Vasu has a unique way of experimenting with tunes in Hindi, Kannada, English and Punjabi. His Bawra and Rang Mahal are super hits with the youngsters in family.

Bindhu Malini

Disciple of Ustad Rashid Khan and Rama Ravi, Bindhu loves to explore herself through music, painting and poetry. A graphic designer and a Hindustani vocalist, Bindu is in the process of putting together her first album “ “ with guitarist Vedanth Bharadwaj.

B. Ananthakrishnan

Son and Dr.V.Balaji and grandson of V.K.Venkataramanujam, Anand is a full time musician and is a popular performer in the Chennai music concert scene. He is a regular accompanist for Harikatha exponent Smt. Visaka Hari. Witty, resourceful and competent, Anand added great energy and enthusiasm to the album with his musical presence.

Sukanya, Shruthi and Smirthi

Optometrist, medical doctor and aspiring Chartered Accountant, this mother and daughter(s) trio who sing in a single voice have given vocal accompaniment to many dance recitals and continue to be enthusiastic students of music. To them this album is an expression of the family’s love for Krsna and music itself.


A student of psychology and Bharatnatyam, Ganavya’s immense talent is matched only by her resourcefulness. An ardent rasika and singer of Abhangs, Ganavya has given many a recital playing on the harmonium herself.

Vishnu Ramprasad

15 year old guitarist Vishnu belongs to a family of musicians and is the founder and guitarist of the progressive Carnatic Jazz band the Karmic Blues. Moksh is a song composed by him for Krsna Naama rasana, inspired by his guitar guru Neil Mukherjee's Shoodoorey. Moksh features prominent Carnatic vocalist T.V. Ramprasadh on the vocals, and versatile Pramodh Raghavan on the Djembe.

Vedanth Bharadwaj

A composer, singer and guitarist, Vedanth is best loved for his talent in blending songs of the Bhakthi movement with the latest instruments and contemporary sounds. Vedanth’s album 'Mati Kahe' is one such musical venture. He is a friend who fast became family to Jaya and Madhavan. A self learnt sound engineer, Vedanth’s contribution to the making of Krsna Naama Rasana is inimitable.


Student of Psychology and English literature, Abishek is a percussionist interning at The Hindu as a photojournalist. He is a student at the A.R.Rehman school of music at Chennai and travels from Bangalore to here every week just to take percussion classes. He has played on water can and a plastic stool for the song Shivano.

Arjun Varadan

A budding mridangist, Arjun is the disciple of Sri.Arjun Ganesh and is working towards becoming a mechanical engineer.

Arya, Prasanna, Thulasi, Anjana and Arjun- cousins of Jaya and Madhavan are all young students of music who sweetened the album with their tender voices and budding talent. It is these children who truly enjoyed the fun, family and festivity embedded in the making of the album to the hilt (while the adults were busy with the logistics of poonal and CD production).