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'I inspired Protima to set up Nrityagram'

You are known to be a ladies' man, the host of Star Plus's Janata ki Adalat said to Pandit Jasraj, and proceeded to ask him about Protima's Gauri's declaration that she had shared intimate moments with him.

Jasraj didn't deny it, although he said he wouldn't like to say anything about the relationship, now that Protima is no more. "But it is true that I inspired her to set up Nrityagram," he remarked. That is the name of a dance village Protima founded at Hesaraghatta, near Bangalore.

In Timepass, her posthumously published autobiography, Protima says she had a torrid fling with Jasraj.

Jasraj refused to be drawn into any comment about what he described as "last century's controversy" which had erupted when he alleged that Pandit Ravi Shankar had lobbied for the Bharat Ratna and threatened to leave the country if he wasn't decorated with that high government honour. He said Pandit Chatur Lal had deserved to get it too, and earlier than Ravi Shankar.

Jasraj didn't agree with the opinion that there was a "music mafia" operating from Delhi and comprising star musicians like Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. He advised people with such a view to live in Delhi. "It is true that people who are sent abroad and who perform at government ceremonies are easily accessible in Delhi. What catches one's attention is picked up," he said.

The programme was telecast on February 27.

Lennon's piano for sale

John Lennon's piano will be auctioned online later this year. The sale is expected to fetch more than a million dollars, making it the most expensive piece of pop memorabilia ever.

Imagine, Lennon's peace anthem, was composed on this piano. It was recorded in 1971 after the breakup of the Beatles and was a hit when it was re-released in 1980 following Lennon's death. An obsessed fan gunned down Lennon outside his New York home.

France honours Ravi Shankar

Pandit Ravi Shankar added one more feather to his cap and possibly gave Ustad Vilayat Khan some more cause for rancour. At a glittering cermony on February 12, Ravi Shankar received the Legion de Honour, France's highest civilian award.

Paris was Ravi Shankar's favourite city in his youth, when he travelled all over Europe with his brother Uday Shankar. In fact, Ravi Shankar began his artistic career as a dancer in his brother's troupe. He gave up the Parisian life of glamour to pursue Indian classical music, and followed Ustad Allauddin Khan to Maihar, a little town in Madhya Pradesh.

The French have earlier decorated two other Indians with the high award -- film director Satyajit Ray and Tamil film actor Sivaji Ganesan.

Vilayat Khan turns down Padma Vibhushan

Vilayat Khan when he visited Bangalore recentlyUstad Vilayat Khan has turned down India's second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibushan.

He said the award was belated, and therefore "an insult". The Indian government announced the award on the eve of Republic Day, January 26. The ustad was abroad when the announcement was made. On February 6, after he returned to India, he told a press conference in Calcutta that there was "too much politics, favouritism and lobbying" in music. He had earlier told a news agency he would refuse the award for "personal reasons".

Vilayat Khan has been performing for the last 67 years. "Six generations of my family have made sitar their religion and today the entire nation is copying our work," he said. He did not directly criticise the award of the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, for Pandit Ravi Shankar, but said Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, "a junior", had already received the Padma Vibushan. "The award is being given to the wrong people by selectors whose competence is suspect," he added.

Read feature on Vilayat Khan

T G Lingappa lays down his baton

T G Lingappa died on February 6 T G Lingappa, star music composer of the '60s and '70s, died on February 6.

He suffered a heart attack at his Chennai home. "He was bedridden for a year," said Triveni, daughter of famous Kannada film director Puttanna Kanagal. "My mother attended his daughter's wedding some months ago and was shocked to find him very weak", she told The Music Magazine.

Lingappa is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters. His son Kishore is also a musician.

Lingappa and Puttanna Kanagal were among the Kannada film people who lived and worked in Madras for several decades. Lingappa scored the music for 150 films in Kannada, Tamil and Telugu in a career spanning 40 years. Other music composers of his generation -- G K Venkatesh, M Ranga Rao and Satyam -- have died in the last 10 years.

In Kannada, the folksy Kuladalli melyavudo huchappa was one of his early hits. He loved such numbers, and was equally comfortable composing authentic classical tunes for films like Babruvahana. Songs of that mythological -- like Aaradhisuve madanari, Ee samaya anandamaya -- are great favourites on radio listener's choice slots even to this day.

His Tamil hits include Sabaash Meena , Thanga Malai Ragasiyam and Kalyanam Panniyum Brahmachari. Tamil Nadu had honoured him with the Kalaimamani title.

Lingappa won the best music director award from the Karnataka government for the lavish historical Srikrishnadevaraya, starring Rajkumar and Bharati.

Lingappa is credited with bringing to film playback singing the versatile P Susheela.

The Kannada film Modala Thedi was Lingappa's debut film. He scored the music for all 25 of B R Panthulu`s films. These included hits like Kittur Chennamma, School Master, Ratnagiri Rahasya and Srikrishnadevaraya.

In Sati Shakti, he got the bhavageete guru P Kalinga Rao to sing the haunting Tayi devateya kana hambalisi.

Lingappa's Tamil debut was Mohanasundaram in the early '50s. Vishwanathanu tandeyadare was among the songs he composed for Tayige takka maga, an '80s Rajkumar film. More recently, he composed the music for some mythological operas, and a couple of private devotional albums for Rajkumar.

Alla Rakha is dead

Alla Rakha, tabla maestro Ustad Alla Rakha, one of India's most famous musicians, died in Mumbai on Thursday, February 3.

The 81-year-old tabla maestro didn't recover from the shock of seeing his younger daughter die of a heart attack on Tuesday. He died of a heart attack a few hours after his daughter's passing.

Just a week before his death, Alla Rakha had received the Chowdaiah Award, Karnataka's honour for distinguished lifetime musicianship.

The tabla wizard who, with Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, took Indian music all over the world, died at 3:30 a m at his house on Napean Sea Road. His sons Zakir Hussain, Taufeeq Qureishi and Fazal Qureishi are also well-known tabla players.

Alla Rakha was born on April 29, 1919, at Phagwal village of Jammu, 80 kms from Lahore.

Read feature on Alla Rakha

Ghalib on tape

Time Music released its Ghalib album on January 31.

Lyricist Javed Akthar released the twin-cassete album, simply called Ghalib, at the Planet M music store in Mumbai. It is the first in the series entitled All Great Masters of Urdu Poetry.

Ghalib's poems are sung by Somesh Kumar and Sumona Roy Biswas.

A gurukula for the arts

The Bharateeya Samskarika Kala Rangam is a gurukula of fine arts in Payyanur, Kerala. Admission to full time courses in vocal and instrumental Karnatak music, Bharatanatyam, Kathakali and painting begins in June 2000.

The traditional school is run by the Bhaaskara trust, brainchild of V P Dhananjayan and Shanta Dhananjayan, the famous dancing couple. The trust is looking for experienced teachers and school administrators.

If you want an application and prospectus for the gurukula's courses, send a draft for Rs 200 to Bharateeya Samkarika Kala Rangam, C/o Bharata Kalanjali, 22, Jeevanaratnam Nagar, Adayar Chennai 600 020.

Music theft is spreading

Counterfeit compact discs and Internet piracy are the threats to the music industry in the millennium. A Reuters report says counterfeits rob the industry of 4.5 billion dollars each year and there are more than a million illegal tracks on the Net. Ukraine, Hong Kong, Poland and Southeast Asia are considered piracy capitals. Over 35 million pirated CDs found their way over the past two years to Latin America from Southeast Asian countries. Adrian Strain of IFPI, the industry's piracy watchdog, has called for increased penalties and stricter CD factory regulations to combat piracy. He blamed bigtime trading links with the backing of organised crime for the widespread music theft.

Bridging memories of S D Burman

Tripura dedicated on Friday, 22 January, a bridge to Sachin Dev Burman, the man who gave Hindi cinema some of its memorable tunes.

The bridge spans river Kathakal near Agartala. It cost Rs 1.7 crore to build.

Sachin Dev Burman Setu, as the bridge is called, is built in a region dear to the composer's heart. He borrowed the eastern region's folk tunes, boatman songs and mistrel chants and transported them to the world of Bombay cinema, from where they reached many parts of India.

S D Burman came from a royal family steeped in music, and his son, Rahul Dev Burman, is one of Hindi cinema's most loved music composers.

Attack on singer couple

A Sri Lankan musician couple was assaulted on 27 January.

Ten gun-toting assailants entered the house of Rukantha Goonatilake and Chandralekka Perera, chopped their hair, doused them in kerosene and threatened to burn them.

The singers used to perform at the election rallies of the United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The UNP has blamed the ruling coalition for the series of attacks on artistes. Earlier, two popular actresses with UNP-sympathies had also been assaulted.

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