Vocalist Aruna Sairam is someone who has developed a distinctive style of her own to preserve the sanctity of the patanthara and proper enunciation of the lyrics in her abhang style. When she renders uncluttered and straightforward kritis, well served by a voice, with a ringing tone, she certainly reveals the quality of simplicity, particularly at a time when values are being diluted or disregarded. Aruna Sairam recalls, “Brinda amma, my guru, was a colossus in the Carnatic music of her times. She was the one who made me realise the importance of Carnatic music. If today I am a performer of some standing, it is because of her influence.” She continues, “Brinda Amma, by conviction was an uncompromising traditionalist and purist. She often said we can use our mano dharma in a kalapana and swara prasthara, but patanthara suddha, should be maintained in rendition”.
Mode of teaching:
Her teaching method used to be analytical and conceptual. Imagine, even a keerthana like kathanavarikki of Thyagaraja in raga thodi, she would ask me to repeat 45 times, till the time I perfected it. She would ask me to prepare the notations for all kritis and would scorn using notes for notation of the kritis. She would insist on shravanam (hearing) only.
Her views on musical rendition:
I believe that the basic form of the musical vision and creativity of the composers should be retained and there is enough scope, to use all our imaginations and virtuosity, within the parameters of tradition.
I believe that a shishya should not imitate the guru’s mannerisms. I also consider that we should take the essential features and adapt them, to suit the individual’s temperament; the range and dexterity of his/her own voice.
On her gurus:
Brinda Amma was a distant figure. I used to look at her with awe. My tutelage continued till 22nd year when Brinda Amma used to come to Bombay and stay for three months.
My first guru was my mother Rajalakshmi Santhanam, a disciple of Alathur Venkatesa Iyer (father of Alathur Subbudu mama) at least for 10 years.
She would not proceed further in a class until I had absorbed, what she was teaching. Certainly, it was an experience which defies description.