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It is usually easy to identify Rajam’s works by just looking at them. The fingers, the lines, the eyes etc. are unmistakable. However, some rare works of his demand a relook to confirm that it was indeed done Rajam. Here is one such line drawing from Kalaimagal in the 1950s, illustrating writer Akilan’s story.

#Rajam100

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Rajam100 – Song 10 of 365

Today I present a rare Anai Ayya Kriti in Dhanyasi. This again is a private recording. Each and every phrase drips with Dhanyasi. This recording without accompaniments should be useful particularly for students who would like to learn the song.

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Today I present a wrapper from Vanoli depicting Tyagaraja. Apart from water colours, Rajam sir’s was known for his portrayal through line drawings. This a good example for his steady yet graceful lines.

#Rajam100

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Rajam sir was always looking to learn new compositions. It didn’t matter if it was a composition of old masters or his contemporaries or even his juniors. Here we present a composition of his slightly senior contemporary artist, G.N.Balasubramaniam in raga Sarangatarangini. A fairly detailed presentation with a short introduction.

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Today I present one of the most famous works of Rajam sir – “Rama Pattabishekam”. This was published in 1956 Kalaimagal Deepavali Malar. Quite likely isnpired from Kamban’s “AriyaNai anuman thaanga”

 

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Today’s musical selection is the lovely alapana of raga Naganandini. What stands out is the effortlessness as he traverses the scale.

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Not many know that S.Rajam was commissioned to illustrate for Kalki’s Parthiban Kanavu. The advertisement for the series had illustrations from Rajam. However, he fell apart with the author and did not work for the magazine until the demise of Kalki Krishnamurthi.

Here is one of those illustrations that was published as part of the advertisement. If you had been to Mamallapuram caves, you can relate to this work. I particularly like the way he depicted the fight in a silhouette.parthiban kanavu 2

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Rajam100 – Song 7 of 365

Today I present a Neelakanta Sivan Kriti is Raga Varali. This was part of AIR concert with krithis based on Neelakanta Sivan’s composition.

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Today I present one of the ashtadhik balaka’s (Vayu) portrayed by Rajam. This series was published as a cover image in a kannada magazine.

It will be interesting to compare with the details in TA Gopinath Rao’s book on iconography and the depiction of ashtadhik balaka’s in places such as Thanjavur.

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Rajam100 – song 6 of 365

Today I present an Ashtapadi in the melakartha raga Kosalam.

Unfortunate that the recording is not complete. Interestingly, Balamuralikrishna has sung this in the same raga.

I did ask Rajam sir about who the tunesmith was for this Astapathi ad he confirmed to me that it was indeed tuned by Rajam himself.

#Rajam100

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The published works in the fifties and sixties are personal favorites of mine. The deepavali malar’s especially had many pages dedicated for paintings with several themes explored elaborately.

Today I present one such painting that was published in Kalki Deepavali Malar, It is interesting that in the later years, Rajam uses a more prominent outlines with ink, while his earlier works have only a suggestive outline. The depth and shades of colour obtained through his wash technique and the detailing makes this one of his all time best.

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Today I present a very rare song of Subbarama Dikshitar in Nattaikurunji. The liting rendition and the unique chittaswarams laced with solkattus makes it special. #Rajam100

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I had the pleasure of meeting Rajam sir almost every weekend for about five years. Sometimes, I would find a painting based on our previous conversation. There were some extempore sketches too.

Once I asked him, if the similies in the song “antha rama saundharyam” made sense? As an artist, was he able to visualise them?

He responded extempore with a line drawing. It is a prized possession for me. I’m happy to share that drawing along with the song rendered by him today.

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Rajam100 – Song 4 of 365

Today I present a song from Arunachala Kavi’s Rama Natakam. This is a private recording, rendered at home, without any accompaniments.

He had actually rendered over fifty kritis covering the entire stoty in this recording.

I asked him on whatoccasion he sang this.

He said, “My son had brought a new recorder. I wanted to check if it worked fine!”.

We are glad that the recorder worked fine and the recording survived.

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On the third day, I would like to share Rajam’s depiction of Arunachala Kavi.

It is said that Kamban made his Ramayana public in the Srirangam temple. Arunachala Kavi wished that his Rama Nataka Kirthanais were released in Srirangam as well. There were some resistance to it. The famous song “En Palli Kondeer ayya” is actually a plea to Ranganatha from Arunachala Kavi. The “never sung” third charanam explicitly says that.

I particularly like the Pavala malli decoration on the Perumal.

#Rajam100

 

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The third song that I present is from a private recording. I received a set of recordings from Rajam sir, where his student Smt. Gomathi had digitised his renditons during the classes. There were over 400 songs, including all 72 melakartha songs of Koteeswara Iyer.

Rajam’s most famous musical contribution was popularizing Kotishwara Iyer’s compositions. Here I present the composition in Todi. ‘Kali Theera’ – in true Ariyakudi style. The cascading sangatis and that deep and ringing mandra panchamam in the chitta swarams makes it a cherished recording for me.

In the Kanda Ganamutham album, that is commercially available, he has sung a crisp alapana and lovely swaras as well.

 

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The second picture I would like to share is the first ever published work of Rajam.

His first work was published in 1938 in Kalaimagal. He was still a student at the college of arts then. His long association with the magazine and ts editor Ki.Va.Jagannathan made a telling impact on his style ad subjects that he would dedicate his rest of his life to.

In the documentary we made on him, when he was 90. Rajam recalled this work and recreated for us to record it. It gives me goosebumps to see the line drawing unfold. Interested folks may buy the DVD from kalakendra.com.

 

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The second song I would like to share is a rare kriti in raga Chandrakauns.

Rajam sir was a great admirer of Hindustani music. Bal Gandharva’s recordings were his treasured possessions. During the shooting of “Rukmini Kalyanam” in Pune, Rajam would visit a hotel next to the talkies and would listen to Bal gandharva’s rendition in the movie “Dharmatma” everyday.

In this rendition, he weaves magic with his effortless rendition of the ragam and also adds some lovely kalpana swarams. Kalyani Varadarajan is a rare composer of merit. Rajam chooses to highlight a not so heard song of hers in this concert. #Rajam100

There is a repetition in the recording after the first few minutes. Excuse the glitch.

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Starting Today, I plan to publish a painting and a song of S.Rajam, as a tribute to the great man on his centenary. Keep following this space daily.

The first painting we share on the legend’s birthday is the painting of Swaminatha. The choice is inspired from the pallavi of the song that I would share later today, Muruganukkoru Seedan.

It is well known that S.Rajam’s work were published in many Tamil magazines and art magazines such Sruti and journals such as Bhavan’s journal. Not many know that his works adorned the cover of Kannada magazine Sudha on several occasions.

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Here is a rare work that beautifully depicts Pranava mantra tatvopadesa by Murugan to Shiva. This picture, of course a print, and hence lacks the depth of the original painting. However, one can still appreciate the famous multi-layered coloring, the attention to details and those intricate lines.

I scanned this from the personal collection of Rajam sir when I made the documentary on Rajam sir. Do not forget to notice the background design on the page of the album. Every page in his album would have a unique design , augmenting the pasted picture that he meticulously maintained in his archive.

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The first song that we share is “Muruganukkoru Seedan”.

A composition of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar in Kalyani. S.Rajam had the fortune of learning from many greats. The list also includes the great Muthiah Bhagavathar. Apart from learning carnatic compositions, Rajam considered it a blessing that HMB was the music director to the movie “Radha Kalyanam”, in which Rajam played the lead role.

This recording is from an AIR concert. Interestingly a concert that was telecast on the day of the Kumbabishekam of Myplaore Kapaliswarar Temple. On this occasion he rendered songs on every deity in that temple complex.

 

The sure footing on Shudhdha Swarams, cascading sangatis and that ‘Bigu” sangatis in the pallavi, the smallest of pauses between words that immensely enhance the enunciation and brisk/crisp nereval swarams makes one to keep getting back to this rendition.

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