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Thursday, January 26, 2017

An identity from beats


City Express recently visited the first edition of Artist’s Soul at Wandering artist, RA Puram, for a series of conversations curated by AVIS Viswanathan, and brings to you the journey of the Grammy winning ghatam maestro Vikku Vinayakram from the 90-minute talk.

For this ghatam maestro, his tryst with the instrument began when he was 12, triggered by the economic situation of his family. His father Harihara was a well-known mridhangam player, who Vikku says was the sole reason for his musical urge. “My father had injured one of his fingers and it was paralyzed. We were a family of six and it was tough to run the family with only his earning.” In an attempt to help Vikku understand the nuances and essence of music, but at the same time enable him to provide extra income for the family, his father trained Vikku for a years. “I used to wake up at 4 am and light a lamp. With sporadic breaks between day and night, I used to play the instrument until the lamp burnt out...which usually used to be for one whole day,” he recalls. Seeing the potential in Vikku and as he grew in stature, his father set a goal of making the ghatam world famous, a goal that Vikku took as his own and achieved in the coming years. “All credits to my father for the achievements I have made. It was his training and hard work that pushed me,” he says. Ask him about being an important icon in traversing the ghatam internationally, and he says: “I am just a postman. The ghatam doesn’t owe me anything, I owe it a lot. People won’t recognise me if not for the ghatam,” he confesses.

The septuagenarian has played with many world renowned musicians in Hindustani, Carnatic and global fusion, yet remains grounded with a lot of faith in his music. Talking about his moments of playing the ghatam alongside ‘MS Amma’ since 1962, he narrates, “I tried several times to be a part of her troupe before the opportunity to play for her came my way. Like I said, time and faith! I boarded a flight because of MS Amma for a UNO global concert on October 23, 1966, and I have had multiple memorable concerts with her. I consider it a blessing,” he reminisces. In another interesting anecdote, he shares that the origin and credit to his name ‘Vikku’ goes to MS Subbulakshmi. “This name was given to me by MS Amma. When I went with her to America for a concert, all the artists were asked to give a short name, and she gave me ‘Vikku’ and now that’s how I am called!” he smiles. 

After a long stint of performing along with MS in several concerts, Vikku had the opportunity to work in a permanent government job at the famous All India Radio (AIR). But he chose a path less taken — be a part of John McLaughlin’s group, Shakti along with Zakir Hussain. “My father said that such opportunities don’t come often and that this was a chance for me to take the ghatam to international waters. Though I was in dilemma, I made the decision to let go of the AIR opportunity and joined Shakthi. I haven’t looked back since,” he shares. Four years of international tours and successful performances with several artists and experimenting news genres, Vikku was a name to look out for.

Source and Credit :- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2017/jan/24/an-identity-from-beats-1563105--1.html
Forwarded by :- Shri. Jainendra Nigam PB News Desk,       prasarbharati.newsdesk@gmail.com

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