Documenting a life of several ‘firsts’

Playback singer K S Chitra released a documentary sketching the life and musical journey of  Parassala B Ponnammal at a function at Bharat Bhavan on Tuesday.

Published: 17th January 2018 01:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2018 07:24 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Playback singer K S Chitra released a documentary sketching the life and musical journey of  Parassala B Ponnammal at a function at Bharat Bhavan on Tuesday. Titled ‘Ee Jeevithathinu Peru Sangeetham’, the documentary directed by Priya Raveendran is an ode to the nonagenarian musical stalwart and traces her journey starting with her initiation into music.
Commending the decision to document the life of Ponnammal, Chitra remembered how she first heard about Ponnammal from her teacher and said the film would help preserve her great musical tradition for posterity. Parassala B Ponnammal was felicitated at the function.

Playback singer K S Chitra seeks the blessings of Carnatic legend Parassala Ponnammal during the release of a documentary on the latter in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday | BP Deepu

Shot across various locations, including her house and the Kuthiramalika palace, the documentary blends footage of her concerts and chronicles an eventful life. Narrated by Suja, the 24-minute video has Ponnammal detailing her musical journey as well as rendering a few notes. Noted musicians, such as B Arundhati, Omanakutty, Aswathi Thirunal Rama Varma and veteran singer Kumaran Kerala Varma and Chitra, among others, share their memories and experiences with Ponnammal.

Academician Achutshankar, who presided over the function, pointed out the day Ponnammal sang at the Navaratri Sangeetholsavam marked a defining moment in the history of music and of the temple as well.
He said Ponnammal’s music had the rare ability to deeply touch the heart and the documentary was a landmark contribution to Kerala’s cultural history. Carnatic musician Arundhati received the first copy of the documentary from Chitra.

The film details how Ponnammal was discouraged from learning music initially and how the episode of acing a music competition changed it all. It was by bagging first prize at a very young age at a music competition held to celebrate the birthday of the legendary musician and former Maharaja of Travancore, Sree Chitra Thirunal, her musical prowess was first noticed.

Having earned several ‘firsts’ including being the first woman to become a teacher at the Swathi Thirunal Music Academy, the first woman’s voice to echo in the much revered Navaratri Mandap, Ponnammal’s towering musical tradition is captured artistically in the documentary. The film is produced by PSC member R Parvathi Devi.

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