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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Striking all the right chords...

Melody is second nature to her. Her rich voice so impressed Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt that he agreed to teach her the minute he heard her sing.

“Music, the greatest good that mortals know;
And all of heaven we know below.”
Mahalakshmi Shenoy, a young musical prodigy from Karkala in Udupi district, knows the path to this ‘great good’. A 20-year-old ambitious talent, Ms Shenoy has already carved a niche for herself in Hindustani classical music in and outside Karnataka, and has traced new avenues in Indian music.

A section of the society that often expresses apprehension over the undesirable tastes of the present day younger generation, may find a ray of hope in the exceptional example of Ms Shenoy, who recently won the prestigious ‘Surmani’ national award of Mumbai’s Sursingar Samsad for her scintillating performance in its ‘Kal ke Kalakar’ convention.

As stated by one Elgar Sir Edward, “there is music in the air”. But in Mahalakshmi’s case, there is music in her very breath. Beginning from her first chant of a bhajan at a tender age of three to the moment of winning the Surmani title, her saga of success is ever inspiring and mesmerising.

It was in fact Carnatic music which Ms Shenoy embraced in the initial stage. At an early age of five, she was brought into a formal course of practice under the able guidance of Vidwan Vyasakrishna Upadhyaya of Karkala, who groomed her continuously for five years. However, the girl’s shift from Carnatic to Hindustani is an interesting story.

“Veena maestro Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt had a Mohan Veena concert in our home-town in 1997. Our 10-year-old daughter was deeply impressed by the concert and as soon as she returned home she started insisting that she will continue learning music, but in the Hindustani genre,” recalls Ms Shenoy’s father Dr Prakash Shenoy, a cardiologist by profession.

Though Vidwan B Yogish Baliga laid a base for her Hindustani venture, the girl was fortunate to become the disciple of her inspirer Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt himself. The maestro was so moved by her rich voice that he accepted her as his disciple in 2000, which naturally became a catalyst for her enterprising dream.

At present, she is pursuing Sangeeta Visharada under Pandit Ramarao Nayak in Goa, besides obtaining expertise in ‘Gayaki’ of both Kirana and Gwalior gharanas.
As a student of Alva’s College in Moodabidri, Ms Shenoy emerged as the winner in the Hindustani classical contest during the National-level Youth Festival (Chennai, 2007) and in the inter-varsity South Zone Youth Festival (Tamil Nadu 2006). Sangeeta Seva Samiti of Soraba has honoured her with the ‘Young Artiste of the State’ award for 2006, while she has also received Udupi District Rajyotsava Award (2006) and Balapratibha Award from Raga Taranga (2000).

Ms Shenoy already has three albums in her kit- ‘Guru Guna Gana’ (Konkani, 2003), ‘Eddu Baro Ranga’ (Kannada, 2005) and a classical CD in Raag Madhuvanthi and Chandrakauns (2004). She has given over 250 performances in various places across the State and outside in the past six years.

“Begum Pervin Sultana is my role model. I have been listening to her voice since my childhood,” she says, and identifies Bhinna Shadja (Kaushik) as her favourite Raga. For this young talent, music is the mother of all classical genres. Her strengths are her in-depth treatment of Madhuvanthi, a well-cultivated and emotionally charged melodious voice and total command over singing.

Moreover, Ms Shenoy’s eight years of rigorous training in Bharatanatyam has influenced her own interpretation of ‘navarasas’. Her command over aalapa is magnificent. “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” Ms Shenoy has a clear-cut understanding of this concept. “I don’t think the audience for a concert should have a thorough knowledge of music. All they need is a simple heart to enjoy melody and rhythm,” she feels.


Anonymous said...

She is a brilliant singer. I have become a fan of her voice.

prashanth said...

i have heard her sing live..n also have some recordings of her, which i listen often...her voice is unique n it touches the heart.. very rare it happens with wishes for her to keep up the good work

Prashanth Nayak

Niranjan said...

I just heard her yesterday & self and my wife were floored with the devotional aura she exudes in her singing bhajns.I added her into my face book and she was so promt in answering back -no strings attached .For a 23 year old she is a darling prodigy and as a resident of Pune where we have many rasigars for knokani and kannada bhajans if someone from GSB Pune can coordinate and bring her music to pune uner the aegis of GSB & Chritapur samajas i will be gateful to them.My name is Niranjan Gulvady ( 9422082557)

ಸಿಬಂತಿ ಪದ್ಮನಾಭ Sibanthi Padmanabha said...

You could have had the courtesy to mention the name of the author of this article.