Chennai: It is a picture that simply won't go away. Of the two of them inseparable till death did them apart. Mother and daughter were probably the most iconic pairing in the past and when the queen of music, the lovely MS Subbulakshmi, passed on, the solitariness of it all hit everyone who loved their music.
MS Subbulakshmi's daughter ( actually stepdaughter) and a wonderful artiste by herself as well, Radha Viswanathan died in Chennai on Tuesday at the age of 84. She had been unwell for a while. It is a passing away of the days that will never come back. The eldest daughter of T Sadasivam and his first wife, she had been brought up by MS Amma whom her father married.
A very zestful person, Radha was a good musician and cherished every moment that she spent with MS Amma - whether it be at concerts (which she did for close to 60 years or just be her beloved daughter enjoying the love and care given). Constrained by the wheelchair due to many health issues, she looked and felt beautiful right up to the end.
After MS Amma passed away, bereft as she was, Radha concentrated on her granddaughters - Aishwarya and Saundarya-and their forays into music. Said to have a memory that could remember the toughest of songs and notations, Radha was a storehouse of information about music and its history.
There is hardly anyone who has not heard their devotionals like the Vishnu Sahasranamam that has and continues to resound in many homes in the morning every day. Their voices sound like one and they probably were twin souls in two bodies. Radha was not just a musician. She was a dancer as well, having had her arangetram at the age of 11. She has performed to packed audiences and was known for her abhinaya.
Born in 1934, December 11, in Gobichettipalayam, Radha was married to Viswanathan and went to Ahmedabad. But her love for music and the need to be with mother and lend MS vocal support brought the couple back thus helping Radha to become part of the most famous duo in the history of classical Carnatic music.s
‘Epitome of guru bhakti’
Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, eminent mridangist
Radha Viswanathan was almost like an alter ego of MS. She followed her like a shadow. And her voice merged with MS so much that they created mellifluous music. Their unifying bondage resulted in classics like Venkateswara Suprabhatam, Vishnu Sahasranamam and Bhaja Govindam. Radha's deep respect for senior musicians is worthy of emulation. And she inspired and passed on the legacy of M. S. Subbulakshmi to her granddaughters.
Chitravina. N. Ravikiran, renowned musician
Mrs Radha Viswanathan was a talented artiste. She was very sensitive to the needs of M.S. Subbulakshmi amma and supported her selflessly. Will pray for her soul to rest in peace.
Sudha Raghunathan, acclaimed musician
Whenever we think of MS amma, there is Radha amma with her. She was an epitome of guru bhakti. She and MS amma were inseparable. Her total surrender to MS amma was exemplary and incomparable. It was one unifying voice which audience heard and loved in their concerts.
(As told to B.Vijayalakshmi)