BANGALORE: Artistes from multiple genres are paying tributes to U Srinivas, who died in Chennai on Friday. Here is what they told Chetana Divya Vasudev
He was to visit my gurukul
This is very sad news. I'm in California and had no idea till late Friday evening. We were very close. He loved my music, I loved his music. We've played together several times. The Panchatatva concerts, celebrating the five elements, were especially pleasurable. One never had to tell him what to do, how to play — he'd know it. Pandit Jasraj and I, all of us, enjoyed performing with him. He was to visit my gurukul but didn't come. I wondered why. Later I heard he was in the hospital. All I can do is pray, pray that God grants him peace and another life full of music.
Hariprasad Chaurasia, renowned flautist
No one can become Srinivas
The mandolin is a difficult instrument to tame, and he did it only because he had a very commanding soul, so the instrument had to oblige. He took it beyond what's imaginable for the instrument. Now, I think, there are a few more people — U Rajesh, U P Raju. As good as they may be, they can only play the mandolin like U Srinivas, they can't become U Srinivas.
My only regret is that I have not met him personally. I had plans of inviting him to my Mandolin Academy. I thought I'd keep Srinivas to the last, celebrate him.
N S Prasad, mandolin artiste
He was so young and so mature
He was a great human being, very soft spoken. When he was a child prodigy, people questioned his choice of instrument, and they objected because it was not Indian. But that didn't bother him. A few years ago, our organisation hosted a concert with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Zakir Hussain and Srinivas. He was very soft-spoken, not letting name and fame bloat his ego. When I called him some years later, he remembered who I was and spoke very well. I often asked myself how someone could be so young and so mature. He was barely 46. Is that any age to die? This is when I wonder if there is indeed a God. His death is a loss not just to Karnatak music, but to the whole world of music."
Parameshwar Hegde, Hindustani vocalist
He blessed me profusely
He is my sir, and I pass on to my students at World Music Conservatory and at my house in Rajajinagar what he passed on to me. I don't think there's any extra effort I need to put in; he's done whatever needed to be done when it comes to the mandolin. I first met him at the Mysore Dasara in 1990. I was just 13 and he 19. I didn't know then that I'd learn from him. My mother knew Telugu, and she asked him if he would agree to teach me, and he was very happy. Even then his gentle nature came forth, when he asked how we'd manage, if we had any relatives in Chennai. We assured him we'd manage, and I can't say how it's been. He usually didn't shower blessings on people. But last year, when he came to Bangalore for a concert, he blessed me profusely, and who can tell why? I heard on the September 9 that he had been hospitalised, and I'd been steeling myself. Yet, since he passed away on Friday morning, I break down whenever I try to talk, even with my students.
Prasanna Kumar Ballal, mandolin player and student of U Srinivas
You're a genius, I told him
I met him last year at Sri Ramaseva Mandali, where I was being honoured and he was playing. Someone introduced us, and to my surprise, he remarked that he knew who I was. "You're a great artiste," he said, and I replied with, "You're a genius."
He said, I would like to play with you sometime. It was to happen this year. But his health had deteriorated. Someone clicked a photo of us that evening. I don't have it though. I was a fan though he was younger than me.
I've listened to a lot of his recordings. They inspired me, and as someone who plays mainly Hindustani concerts, I started to do more jugalbandis.
Vishwanath Nakod, AIR tabla artiste