Muthuswami Dikshitar, by S Rajam

When I was in college, my friend Vipul Agarwal (I wish I knew where he is now) and I made a deadly combination in intercollegiate quizzes on Indian music. He was a whiz at Hindustani while I knew something about Carnatic and so when we went on stage in Delhi the rest of the teams knew they were up against something hot. One of the standard questions was the identification of Hamsadhwani which quiz masters regularly told us was the only raga that had the same name in both the classical forms of India. I am not so sure that this is true. It may be one of those Kodambakkam/Ghoda Baugh and Poromboke/Pembroke type of answers.

Anyway, that bit of useless prelude was mainly to focus on a film song that owes much to Muthuswami Dikshitar and his father. As is well known, Ramaswami Dikshitar is said to be the creator of Hamsadhwani and his son carried it forward with his immortal Vatapi Ganapatim Bhajeham, composed on one of the many Ganesa icons in the Thiruvarur temple. This is a standard opening song in many concerts now and as per Vasudevanallur Subbiah Bhagavatar, Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan sang it in every concert of his. He is also credited with the numerous sangatis we hear today. (I wonder if that is true. I must check the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini).

You can hear Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer sing it in this link

Now let us move on to the song Ja Tose Nahin Bolun Kanhaiya, sung by Lata and Manna Dey. The film is Parivar, made in 1956. The music is by Salil Chowdhury and the song is clearly inspired by our very own Vatapi. Listen to here in the link below. A search informs me that the actors are Sabita Chatterjee and Ashim Kumar. The lyrics are attributed to Shailendra.

Want to know more about the two Dikshitars and their contributions to music? Join me on a tour of Chidambaram and Mayuram

This article is part of series on old film songs, chiefly Tamil and Hindi, that I like. The earlier episodes can be read here.