Saturday, October 08, 2016


In the ten years that this blog has existed it's a shame that I haven't yet dedicated a post to my awesome maternal grandma, (late) Smt. Komala Parthasarathy. Ammamma/ Komalamma as her grandkids would call her, was a devoted connoisseur of Carnatic music who composed songs and also played the Veena. She was a big influence and I owe a lot of my musical sensibilities to her. Having grown up in Andhra, she was proficient in Telugu and that was her language of choice for most of her compositions. She was of course also well-versed in Tamil, and not to mention, English - she would religiously read The Hindu from top to bottom every single day. In fact as a kid I added quite a few words to my English vocabulary thanks to her. (One of them, I distinctly remember was "imp" - she thought I was one.) This trilingual composer-and-vainika of a grandma was also really fun to hang out with. One topic I would often discuss with her (not surprisingly) was ragas of film songs. I remember one summer vacation in Madras when we were having this heated discussion on the raga(s) of the song ottagattha kattiko(!!) Another thing I remember is how adorably annoyed she would get when Colonial Cousins' song sa ni dha pa ma ga ma ga ri sa would play on TV - not even one note in that line matched what the singers were mouthing - and whenever this would play she'd get really agitated irrespective of whether she was in the kitchen, or with her head buried in the paper, or taking a nap.

She composed several songs in a span of 10-15 years. On this occasion of Navaratri, here's one of her earliest compositions - Neelayadakshi in the ragam Neelambari. Thanks Hari, for working on this with me. (Hopefully there's more to come eventually.) Ammamma, can't believe it's been more than a decade since you left us - we all miss you dearly.

Ammamma playing the Veena sometime in the 90s at the yearly aradhana at one of my earliest Gurus - Smt. Ranganayaki Sridharan's place in Bangalore.

I hope y'all enjoy the song.