She lapped up a chance to win laurels

She lapped up a chance to win laurels

The mandapam, where renowned Carnatic musicians from the country are invited to perform during the annual festival, was originally off limits to women artistes. “Breaking away from this centuries-old tradition, the temple trust invited octogenarian vocalist Sri Parassala B Ponnammal to perform at the mandapam in 2005 and in the following year, the chance came calling Rajasree to accompany vocalist K N Ranganatha Sarma.

Many artistes, while performing here in front of the bedecked idol of goddess Saraswathi, are said to have gone through an ethereal experience. Rajasree agrees with it by saying: “I too was in the best of mood. It’s like a complete surrender to the goddess of art. Moreover, the podium is inspiring enough-- it has used ethnic acoustic technology of paving the ceiling with earthen pots to create the right quantity of sound.”

Rajasree has performed along with big names in the music world like K J Yesudas, Hyderabad Sisters, Mala Chadrasekhar and Neyyattinkara Vasudevan; on stages in India and abroad. She has enthralled audience with her deep grounding in Carnatic music and her racy bowing style interspersed with staccato.

She grew up in an agrahara, a stone’s throw from the Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple, as the eldest daughter of veteran violinist M Subramonia Sarma. Music is in her family as her mother is a trained Carnatic musician and grandfather was a mridangam master. But her father was unwilling to train her until he could sense that spark of real talent in her. “When I was 8, my father was somehow convinced that my brother and I could make a career out of playing violin,” she says.

After that it was hours of rigorous violin practice sessions. At the age of 11, she made her debut on stage. 

Later,  for the sake being academically qualified, she joined the Music College in Thiruvananthapuram. In due course, she got engaged with a project with her brother to revive rare compositions such as “Narada pancharatna”,  “ Thiruvotriyoor pancharatna”,  “Kovoor pancharatna” and “Sreerangam pancharatna.”

Though an introvert by nature, she likes to talk about that more: “Actually some other person was supposed to play the violin that day.

I also had another assignment. But as the person couldn’t turn up, the invite came to me. My father was more than willing to take over my earlier commitment and send me to the mandapam with these words: ‘Go child, it’s a rare opportunity in life’. So I feel everything in one’s life is pre-determined… isn’t it?” she winds up the talk on that philosophical note.