Chittoor Subramania Pillai: The Composer

It was the late nineteen thirties and I must have been seven or eight at that time. Two elder sisters and I were living in an erstwhile royal hunting lodge near Ravannadoravalasa, a tribal hamlet. Curtailed by royal protocol, our only entertainment was a cosmopolitan stack of records and a wind-up gramophone, a part of my mother's dower.

That was when I developed an ear for Carnatic music, through Mathuranagarilo sung by Chittoor Subramania Pillai. Possibly the multi-coloured Broadcast label on the 78 rpm disc attracted me to it initially. In time I was drawn to Rama neepai tanaku on the other side too. Thus it happened that I could recognise Anandabhairavi and Kedaram before I could recognise any other raga.