A maestro lives on…

They celebrated the memory of music maestro Sri R Vishweshwaran today. If the function could be described in one word, I would say the word is ‘Perfect’. There was sheer perfection in every which way.

The sky was overcast, and the weather just perfect, when we drove round the Kapaleeshwara temple to the venue of the function – Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Sri Vishweshwaran’s wife, Smt Chitra, the renowned Bharatanatyam artiste, was standing right at the door, personally receiving one and all. Not a small task, considering that it was a full house that came today to honor the memory of the maestro.

Chitra herself played the role of MC for the function. The intensity of the occasion showed in her demeanor, as she delivered every word from the depths of where heartfelt emotions are born. The function opened with a group dance of her students, dancing to the recorded song of Sri Vishweshwaran. Eminent people who have played a key role in Sri Vishweshwaran’s life spoke thereafter. There were two people whom Sri Vishweshwaran revered, who he considered as Avatara Purushas. Both were present for the occasion. One of them is the great Santoor artiste, Padma Vibhushan Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. The other is the immortal music director of Tamil cinema, Sri MS Vishwanathan. “The only thing that Vishwesh did not do for them is to build temples for their worship…He revered them so much”, said Chitra…

Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma looked just perfect in his white long Kurta suit. His shock of silver hair, his tall and slim bearing, all added to the magic of his music mystique. Speaking of Sri Vishweshwaran, he said that it was perhaps  more difficult to find a worthy disciple, than it was to find a proper Guru. Vishwesh was his disciple of choice, who had brought Santoor, an instrument of Kashmir, to the southern shores of India. He spoke of Vishwesh’s hunger to learn Santoor, although he was already extremely proficient in other instruments and other forms of music.

Mrs YG Parathasarathi spoke of her memories of Vishwesh and complemented Chitra and Vishwesh as the perfect couple.

Her talk was followed by a Bharatanatyam number, danced to the recorded voice of Vishwesh singing a lilting Tamil number. A number that depicts the pangs of Viraha (separation) that follows the Sambhoga (union) –  a perfect piece of Shringara-Bhakti, a composition of Periasami Thooran.

Sri CV Chandrashekar, the doyen of Kalakshetra (‘the Bheeshma Pitama of Nritya’, said Chitra), spoke next. He too looked a picture of perfection. He dwelt on the personal side of Vishwesh, his lineage, and some personal reminiscences. He spoke of the time when he had presented a song on Lord Ganesha, written by Goswami Tulasidas, which he had set in Raga Kalavati. He remembered how pleased Vishwesh had been with the number, observing that tune had brought out well the rotund girth of Ganesha! He spoke of that concert of Vishwesh in Nungambakkam Cultural Academy, on a day that had so much rain that few could make it there. However, Sri Chandrasekar due to his love for Hindustani music had somehow made it, braving the monsoon. And about how pleased Vishwesh was, who hugged him and said that he was not anxious about the low audience count, because a person who was so knowledgeable about Hindustani music had come to hear him.

The great music director MS Vishwanathan too spoke about Vishwesh. How wonderful it was to see MSV, the music-maestro of perfection! Resplendent with Vibhooti on his forehead, clad in  simple Dhoti and shirt, he spoke with great emotion. In fact he said that he would not be able to speak, choked as he was with emotion…”I will end up crying, and end up making you cry too…” he said. He spoke of the ‘manida neyam’ – the great humanness of Vishwesh.

Poojya Vittamma, the mystic sage, spiritual guru of the Vishweshwarans gave the Anugraha Bhashana. Her speech was such sheer perfection that it would not be meet to even try to describe it. She released a CD of music of Sri Vishweshwaran. The CD titled ‘Antardhwani – Song of the Soul” has some of his vocal and instrumental renderings. A collectors item. The proceeds of the sales of this CD was to go for Rasa – A school for the differently abled children. A group of happy disabled children received the first CDs from her.

The stage itself was very artfully decorated. They had put up all the instruments that Vishwesh used to play, and he played quite a few of them. They had such a lovely picture of his – one where he, kind of, jumps out of the frame.

All in all, a wonderful tribute, to a wonderful man. Yes, the maestro lives on.


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