Senior vidwan Manakkal Rangarajan passes away

Manakkal S Rangarajan, senior vocalist passed away on February 26, 2019, late night, at the age of 96. He was known for his unique brighas and a style of his own and exhibited talent in challenging laya patterns in his concerts.

Manakkal S Rangarajan receiving the award 'Sangita Kalashikhamani' at The Indian Fine Arts Society Chennai in Dec. 2010

Born in 1922, Rangarajan hails from Manakkal in Trichy district. He was trained in music by his father Santhanakrishna Bhagavathar, a Harikatha exponent and later carved a niche for himself by self-learning and the Carnatic music world called it 'Manakkal Bhani'. Gifted with a voice that could traverse across octaves, Manakkal Rangarajan made it malleable with a 'sadhakam' that went on for hours daily throughout his life. A brilliant vidwan, as he was, could master intricate pallavis, acquired a huge repertoire and handled rare ragas with ease. Hi electrifying brigas as well as slow-paced renderings are equally popular among the rasikas. He stuck to the tradition and never compromised it for popularity.

Many veteran vidwans like Mysore T. Chowdiah, Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, Palghat Mani Iyer and Palani Subramania Pillai had accompanied Manakkal Rangarajan in concerts. He was a recipient of many awards including the Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu, TTK award from The Music Academy Madras and Sangita Kalashikhamani from the Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai.

A London-based rasika R. Pathmanabha Iyer has produced a documentary titled 'Musician of the Era' on Manakkal Rangarajan. Directed by award-winning director Amshan Kumar, the film was screened at The Alliance Francaise Chennai in 2012.

Manakkal Rangarajan did not believe in recording his music. However, his son Sriram, who is also a mridangam vidwan has been archiving the available audio recordings. A performer for All India Radio, Chennai for a long time, he had the distinction of not repeating any song/composition in the AIR concerts. His wife Padma Rangarajan provided vocal support to him, daughter Bhanumathi Hariharan is a violinist, another daughter Seetha Viswanathan plays the veena and son Sriram accompanied the vidwan on the mridangam in many concerts.

Manakkal Rangarajan is survived by his wife Padma Rangarajan, son R Sriram, daughters Seetha and Bhanumathi.

Listen to a Composition of Koteeswara Iyer in Nasikabhushani sung by Manakkal Rangarajan.


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