Aishwarya Rao

Day 1 of the week long mega cultural event 'Chennai Sangamam' promised some amazing performances. Natesan Park, T.Nagar one of the venues for the event was a special sight.

I reached the venue when the 'Villu Paatu' was being staged. 'Villu Paatu' is an ancient form of musical story telling with very basic orchestra like the 'kudam' (drum) and a thala kattai. This particular group 'Velayudham, Sangeetha and co.' from Tirunalveli has been performing for the past 30 years. The group specializes in narrating episodes from ancient literature (Raja Harischandra being their most talked after ones). This evening they performed the story of the legendary Tamil heroine Kannagi who is alleged to have burnt the city of Madurai as a revenge on its King who falsely convicted husband Kovalan. Although a light hearted and entertaining performance, one couldnt miss the political undercurrents.

Villu Paatu was followed by a series of patriotic tunes rendered by The Madras Youth Choir. The 15 year old group that performs in over 30 languages emulated the Tamil spirit by rendering popular Bharathiyar Songs.

The star of the evening undoubtedly was Sudha Ragunathan. She enthralled the audience with some brilliant renderings; 'Alaipayuthe', 'Om Saravana Bhava', and 'Brahmam Okkate'. The shining star of carnatic music she is, she alone could have mesmerised the audience and recaptured the essence of M.S.Subbalaksmi's gems 'Kaatrinile Varum Geetham' and 'Kurai Onrum Illai'. One couldnt help smiling at the unique vocal style of ending the current number with the initial lines of the subsequent piece! Whether she was dressed in Pothys's Parampara Pattu, I have my own doubts!

And there could have been no better end to the first day of Chennai Sangamam at T.Nagar. Folk artistes from Pasumalai near Madurai had the audience almost speechless with their Karagattam, Maiyul attam (peacock dance) and a series of bizzare acts. Pazhani Kumar and his troop turned the park into a circus ring ; jumping through a fire ring, mocking bull fights, stacking several layers of flaming iron rods on their heads. The team that has been performing for over 3 decades now is fighting to revive the ancient folk form.

Says Pazhani Kumar "While we give several performances in countries like Singapore, Malaysia, France and South Africa, the demand in our own land has sadly fallen. We get paid a maximum of 5000 for each show. With over 25 artistes performing, the money helps us in a very little way!" Pazhani Kumar runs his school in Madurai where one can learn the folk form in a matter of 3 months by putting in 3 hours each day. It could be more inviting to women who get paid slightly higher than their male counterparts for leaving their homes and children behind!

Well all Kudos to Kanimozhi, the Tamil Maiyam and Tamil Nadu Tourism Department for conceptualizing and organizing such a wonderful showcase of art, culture, music, dance and drama.

20 Responses
  1. Nandhu Says:

    nice report, ash!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Very Good Effort

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Visit the official website of Chennai Sangamam where you can see more photos and details.

  4. tudinesh Says:

    apart from promoting tamil and culture, they are promoting these artists which has to be appreciated .... these artists have never got their due credits but programmes like these help them a lot ....

  5. shitij Says:

    Hey thats an informative blog u have...I enjoyed of whatever I have seen (of South India)...will come back later.


  6. shitij Says:
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  7. shitij Says:
    This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Abhishek Says:

    Nice Pics...

  9. Sagaro Says:

    Idhukalam time irruku, wikicamp ikku time illa le? Cha! Jimmy Wales missed u...

  10. tudinesh Says:

    @ sagaro
    hey sagaro .... u forget to mention the song which was dedicated to ash ...

    @a rao
    ash - their was a juke box and woh ladki hai kahan from dch was dedicated to u ...

    who dedicated ? sagaro will tell

  11. Sagaro Says:

    Karthik Kannan... who else :P

  12. tudinesh Says:

    @ sagaro
    unmaiya sollitiyeda ?

    @ woh ladki
    u got the answer rite ?

  13. avronea Says:

    so cool, you got to go :-)

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  16. Hi Aishwarya Rao

    Nice posting....coverage....

    please check out few carnatic concerts of Chennai Sangamam ..inculding Smt. Sudha ji concert ( Nateshan park )

    (sorry..before i forgot to add url..that's y i deleted my previous comments...)

  17. I was here tooooooo!!! Same place... same time!!!! :D

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  19. Aishwarya Rao,

    தங்களின் வலைப்பதிவைப் படித்தேன் மிக அருமையாக சென்னை சங்கமம் நிகழ்ச்சிகளை தொகுத்து எழதியிருக்கிறிர்கள்... தங்களின் எழத்து மேலும் மேலும் சிறப்புற என் வாழ்த்துக்கள்...

    நானும் சென்னை சங்கமம் பற்றி எழதி இருக்கிறேன் தங்களுக்கு நேரம் இருந்தால் படியுங்கள்...