CHENNAI: Extremely happy to be selected for the prestigious award, TVG says that that it is a great honour to be selected by the institution that has been fostering and nurturing carnatic music for several decades now. He says, “I consider this as an honour for my gurus who groomed me.”
Belonging to a family of musicians from Tripunithra in Kerala, 82-year-old TVG began playing the mridangam at the age of four. Learning to play the mridangam from his uncle Narayanasamy Iyer, he began accompanying his carnatic music guru Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar at the age of eight.
Apart from the Sangeet Natak Akademi award, TVG is also the recipient of Padma Bhushan.
“Some are born with a silver spoon, I was born with the mridangam,” he says with a laugh.
TVG also underwent hindustani music training under Krishnanand and gave his first concert in 1969. He says, “I started performing for AIR in 1949 and I continue to do so. When I came to Madras looking for avenues as a singer, even renowned singers’ disciples were struggling to find a place. I was just an addition to the list.”
Accompanying renowned singers, he has also been instrumental in finding rare talent. The long list of talent spotted by him includes Ilaiyaraja, Rajkumar Bharati and Bhupinder Singh.
Having worked with several artistes, he says that the term fusion should be replaced by integration. “What can one fuse within carnatic music? I would rather say integration,” he says.
Ruing the absence of guru’s prominent role in today’s learning, he says that while there have been many mediums, none can replace the one-on-one influence a guru can have on his disciple. “The computer cannot teach you nuances like a guru,” he adds.
Denying the myth that classical music is for a select audience, he says that melodies still rule. “Even in film music, the ones with melody continue to stay in people’s hearts. They may not know the ragam, but they are still drawn to it. Tell me, how can you say carnatic music is for a select group?” he asks.