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Enchanting Kerala


ISSUE: 225

MAY 2012

Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan

When his gifted fingers fall in harmony on the tough skin of the mridangam, a renowned south Indian percussion instrument, what emanates is sheer brilliance that would tantalize the listeners around him. Such is the genius of the man, pouring out in the form of reverberating rhythm.

Born in a musician's family in 1971 near Kuzhalmannam, a little hamlet on the suburbs of Palakkad town, Ramakrishnan was fascinated by this quintessential south Indian percussion instrument right from his childhood. He started learning mridangam at the age of five from his father Nadabhushanam Shri. K. Gopalakrishna Iyer.

Since then, his mesmeric music has captivated people in many parts of the world. Also an A grade artist of All India Radio and Doordarshan, Ramakrishnan has performed in more than 5000 stages. But what brought his genius to the limelight was an unusual Guinness world record for playing mridnagam non-stop for 501 hours. Sans exhaustion, sans ennui his fingers moved over his mridangam for 21 days. He named the event as 'Hrudaya Thaalam', meaning the rhythm of heart, intended to give relief to those teeming millions battling numerous illnesses. Surpassing his own previous records of 101 hours and 301 hours, Ramakrishnan currently holds the world record of 'Longest performance in any type of hand drum'.

Completing his three decades of life dedicated solely to music, Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan compiled a book in English titled 'Mrythm' that helps laymen to learn and practice the nuances of playing mridangam. Starting with tips on the positioning of fingers, the book goes on to major talaas enabling one to accompany the music or even render a solo performance. For Ramakrishnan the book was a dream come true. "I have tried my best to simplify the toughest lessons of mridangam in the book," says Ramakrishnan.

In addition to this, he has also experimented with his potential in lyrics writing and composing music and has breathed life to a good number of Hindu devotional songs. Apart from his career in music he is also a well-known artist with more than half a century of experience in oil painting. His paintings are mostly related to music.

Despite achieving numerous accolades and titles like Layaratna, Kalapraveena, Vadya Samrat, 'Outstanding Young Indian', 'Human Wonder Award,' Kala Ratna etc., this maestro of music is not yet ready to rest on his laurels. His unrelenting passion for music presses him to keep on his researches to conjure novel ideas and ways of playing mridangam in conjunction with other instruments. Some of his fusion programmes like Vadya Sangamam and 'Passion in Fusion' were trendsetters. To pass on the wealth of music he has achieved to the next generation, Ramakrishnan has started a music institution named 'Kuzhalmannam Centre of Music' in Palakkad.

  Topics: Art   Artists   Culture  

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