We have a tendency, as a culture, to present hagiographies of those who leave us. How great a person was, or how humble, or how helpful, or unselfish. The measure of the man becomes a few words in praise — a rather tenuous offer to remember their contribution.
This seems unfair for Shri N. Ramani, flautist extraordinaire. He passed away, and with his passing, there is definitely a sense of loss for a paradigm that is fast disappearing. A paradigm that comprised musicians who worked extremely hard at their craft and dedicated themselves without questioning the need for being single-minded. He was the representative of a world that probably needs to be reprised for the benefit of those who seek the fast lane.
I only met him twice, although he was a favourite of many members of my family. He was warm in an endearing way, taciturn and suddenly animated when the conversation was around his favourite subject.
Hardly enough material to write a personal tribute. The second time I met him, he was clearly ill and it seemed unfair to pursue a conversation. I was impressed that he sat through an entire concert and paid tremendous attention, appreciating it where it moved him. But his music...that is a different story altogether. Clear, limpid tones as a torchbearer of the Mali bani (as evolved from the musical genius and guru T.R. Mahalingam or Mali), he rose to great heights from a young age.
His concerts throughout the globe, and his enviable student base through the Ramani Academy of Flute will remain etched in the musical landscape of a dedicated fanbase. Ragas came alive in his playing, and with particular relish.
Fast-paced and yet uncompromisingly melodious, his specific playing style will be sorely missed by his countless followers. The Carnatic flute has certainly lost one of its heroes. His contribution cannot be forgotten, for the simple reason that it is more than that. It is, and will always remain a legacy.
(The writer is an acclaimed classical pianist)...