Mandolin Shrinivas, the child prodigy, is no more

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September 19, 2014

CHENNAI: U. Shrinivas, who cast a spell on audiences with his Western instrument, the mandolin, died here on Friday. He was only 45.

Mandolin Shrinivas, as he came to be known, had been ailing for a while. He reportedly was being treated for liver failure at the Apollo Hospital. He had lately received a liver transplant.

September 19, 2014

CHENNAI: U. Shrinivas, who cast a spell on audiences with his Western instrument, the mandolin, died here on Friday. He was only 45.

Mandolin Shrinivas, as he came to be known, had been ailing for a while. He reportedly was being treated for liver failure at the Apollo Hospital. He had lately received a liver transplant.

Born in Palakol in Andhra Pradesh, Shrinivas started playing the instrument used by his father Sathyanarayana. He quickly mastered it and his skills were further honed by his father’s guru Rudraraju Subburaju, who was a vocalist.

As Chennai is the capital of Carnatic Music, his family settled here and he was promoted by late mridhangam player P. Updendran and his uncle, late thavil maestro Valangaiman Shanmugasundaram.

As a child prodigy, a permanent smile on his face and with joy apparent while playing his instrument, he created waves in the Carnatic music world.

His concerts with the accompaniment of thavil captured the imagination of connoisseurs of Carnatic music. He instantly caught the attention of late Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran, who declared him the musician of the Tamil Nadu Government when he was just 11 yeas old.

“After listening to him play in a temple, I recorded him for the Doordarshan. The audition test was attended by great musicians such as Emani Sankara Shastry. When we telecast the programme, we received a call from the then Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran, requesting a copy of the recording and his address,” said Sampath Kumar, who worked for both the All India Radio and Doordharsan.

Humility personified

Srinivas, humility personified, always gratefully acknowledged the contribution made by others towards his career.

“I am still not able to understand how he was able to produce ghamakas in a Western instrument,” said Mr. Sampath kumar, who also produced a documentary on Shrinivas.

Recalling his association with MGR, Shrinivas once told The Hindu that since he did not have a telephone, the Chief Minister’s secretaries visited his house.

“The Chief Minister’s secretaries visited my house and wanted to know whether I could perform at a function. Since I had a concert on the same day, they gave me another date and the occasion — a felicitation function for actor Kamal Hassan for his role in the film ‘ Ek duje ke liye’ . Mr. MGR and our present Chief Minister Jayalalithaa listened to the entire concert,” Shrinivas told The Hindu.

At one concert, T.N. Seshagopalan, moved by his music, presented a gold ring to Shrinivas.

Shrinivas joins late N.C. Vasanthakokilam, Karukurichi Arunachalam and Needamangalam Shanmugavadivel, who left the world when they were in the 40s and at the peak of their career.


Courtesy: PTI