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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 20, february 1-15, 2010

Historic Residences in Chennai - 35

(Sriram V.)

S. Rajam’s House
41, Nadu Street, Mylapore

This is a fine example of a town house, the type of residence that was built along the narrow streets of the older parts of the city. The house was puchased in the 1920s by Mylapore Sundaram Iyer, a lawyer whose primary interest was music. Sundaram Iyer’s children were exposed to some of the best talents in Carnatic music, as he would play host to a number of eminent musicians. In 1931, Sundaram Iyer took under his wing an impoverished but greatly talented composer and musician – Papanasam Sivan (1890-1973). Sivan taught music to Sundaram Iyer’s children.

In 1933, responding to an invitation from Kolhapur, Sundaram Iyer and his family, along with Sivan, went there and acted in a Tamil film, Seetha Kalyanam. The music was composed by Sivan, who remained a music director for films for another twenty years. Sundaram Iyer’s elder son S. Rajam (b 1919) played Rama and daughter Jayalakshmi played Sita, a casting that created controversy in orthodox Mylapore. The younger son S. Balachander (1927-1990), later to become a brilliant veena artiste, played the role of a musician in Ravana’s court.

41, Nadu Street acquired its tile-roofed first floor later, at the behest of senior musicians who predicted it would remain filled with music, a prophecy that came to be true. S. Rajam blossomed into a fine painter and musician. His portraits of the Carnatic Trinity are still the most popular ones. He served the All India Radio for many years and is today a respected musicologist. The house is his residence now, with the first floor serving as his studio. (Courtesy: Kalam­Kriya.)

We regret to announce the passing of S. Rajam on 29th January 2010.


In this issue

They’re only transferring the road congestion
Great festivals – but they need greater promotion
The Sabha that made V.P. Hall its home
A landmark that’s gone
A festival to remember
Kuppams oppose expressway
Historic Residences of Chennai - 35
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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