T. Rukmini: a radiant soul (1936-2020)

T. Rukmini: a radiant soul (1936-2020)
Beauty is skin deep; it is oft said. In rare cases it permeates the whole being—inside, outside, and in the body, mind and soul. Vidushi T. Rukmini, who performed the “mangalam” to her sojourn on this earth recently, was one such.

A striking beauty, retaining her youthful look in her sunset years, she never sought any external aids to enhance it or draw attention to it. So was she with her pristine music, captivating on the strength of its sheer beauty and classicism. And she retained her childlike innocence, wonder and joy all through her life. Feeding on music and breathing music day in and day out, this came as no surprise.

My association with her goes back sixty years and more when I was introduced to her dazzling personality. She had come to Madurai to accompany my mother Ananthalakshmi Sadagopan and stayed with us for a few days. She was in her early twenties and had already acquired quite a reputation as a remarkable artist. Intrepid on the dais as she wielded her bow, it did not matter to her whether the main performer was a veteran, a maverick, or a child prodigy. She came to play and revel in the challenges that came her way.

The bow, strings and sounding board seemed a part of her anatomy and could vocalise what flowed from her mind. Whether she played at the abysmally low pitch of M.D. Ramanathan—where the slack strings could not tauten, or whether she accompanied female vocalists whose pitch hovered around G Sharp— where over-taut strings threatened to snap, she was cool and in command, and could coax the instrument to give forth honeyed strains… read more