The only way to come to terms with the spectacle of thirteen-year-old Anathakrishnan playing twelve musical instruments with elan is suspension of disbelief. While claimants to similar feats dish out dampeners that linger on the peripheries, an indisputable virtuosity singles out this eighth grader.
From the now obscure Bubul to Veena, Violin, Mandolin, Guitar, Flute, Keyboard, Harmonium, Ghatam, Mridangam, Tabla and Ghanchira, Ananthakrishnan is at ease with each, just as he could break into a vocal rendition of Carnatic or Hindustani music anytime. The young music wizard refuses to name a single instrument as his favourite. “Each one is unique in its own way. I love them all,” he smiles.
When you try rephrasing the question, pat comes the reply, “practice is what gives you confidence and I feel confident about all the instruments when I have done my homework”. The arangettam (debut performance) of his music ensemble was held last year at Guruvayoor temple and the concert also gave him the opportunity to perform at Chembai Sangeetholsavam. His first performance was held at the Institute of Engineers Hall on Sunday. The prodigy, a student of Army Public School, Pangode, has few claims to bequeathed musical genes.
Neither his mother Ramadevi, technical assistant at the University Library, Palayam or his father Suresh Kumar, who runs a transport business in Kollam, have any talent for music.
“But, we did notice that Ananthu showed a particular interest in music from a very young age,” remembers Ramadevi.
As a baby, he would stop wailing the minute we played the cassette of a concert by K J Yesudas ad we resorted to playing it so much that it was worn out by the time he was three,' she laughs. Ananthu began his lessons in vocal music at the age of three under Palkulangara Saraswathy Amma. The tiny tot proved that he was a quick learner, at the music class, at school and at the roller skating class at Poojappura. “He had competed at the national level in roller skating,” says Suresh Kumar. “It was at one of those classes that we met a child who
was learning violin. When we accompanied them to a violin class one day, he took to it quite spontaneously,” adds Suresh.
When Ananthu was around six, Rama landed a job with Kannur University. Suresh, in search of a safe place to leave Anathanu after school hours, until he reached home at around 5.30 pm, was looking for a tuition class rumoured to exist near the Hindi Prachar Sabha at Vazhuthacaud. “I happened to reach the house of keyboardist V C George and on hearing my requirement, offered to teach my son to play the keyboard and be his guardian until I was back,” Suresh smiles, a teardrop shining at the end of his eyes.Ananthu shares a great rapport with his teachers, especially with flute maestro Sivarama Iyer and Saraswathy Amma teacher, who has been paralysed for many years now. Each association seems like a destiny and the music that it ensues, his calling. Chenda and Idakka are waiting to cross his path, believes Ananthu.