Speed was his forte

Manakkal Rangarajan was looked upon by fellow musicians for his pioneering approach to Carnatic music. He was a self-taught musician who trod his own path. Vocalist T.M. Krishna once addressed him as “the musicians’ musician”. Rangarajan was popular in his heydey and his concerts were sought after. He had quite a few rasikas and one of them was former chief minister M.G. Ramachandran. MGR listened to one of Rangarajan’s recitals on All India Radio and developed a great liking for his music. It is said that MGR requested Rangarajan to sing at the wedding reception of actor N.S. Krishnan’s daughter, but since Rangarajan had a concert on that date, MGR adjusted the event to accommodate his schedule.

Among several other rasikas who knew him through his radio concerts, was R. Pathmanaba Iyer, a London based Tamil publisher. Upon knowing that his favourite singer was living in Indira Nagar, Chennai, he established contact and immediately arranged for his concert tour to England in 2006. This tour also brought Manakkal Rangarajan closer to the younger generation rasikas living there. Six years later, Pathmanaba Iyer capped off his admiration for Rangarajan by producing a documentary on him which, I had the honour of directing. It gave me an opportunity to know the singer first hand, listen and record a good number of musicians—old and young—who were enraptured by Manakkal’s music… read more