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Music is his life

Nagore Babu, the flautist, is passionate about Carnatic music. Such is his zeal that he gave up a job to delve into classical music.



ALL FOR CLASSICAL: Nagore Babu is totally dedicated to carnatic music. — Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

IF YOU have heard kirtanas such as Nagumomu (Abheri ragam) Endaromahanubhavu (Sri ragam), Brochevarevaru ra (Khamas ragam), Krishna nee Begane baro (Yeman Kalyani) played mellifluously on the flute at the Dakshin restaurant of the ITC Kakatiya Sheraton Hotel and Towers you would have definitely lent a ear to it despite the food and conversation.

Or if you just heard the sound travelling through the air you would have certainly paused to check its origin.

For such is the entrancing capacity of the instrument and its artiste who certainly plays it in chaste Carnatic style.

The melodious notes of Nagore Babu's flute resonate throughout the restaurant.

This trained flautist has been playing at Dakshin since seven years.

Nagore Babu was so named after the saint of Nagore (the dargah at Nagore, near Nagapattinam is famous in the South and attracts people from all faiths) as his father Fakir Saheb took a vow to name the son if he had one (he had four daughters). Hailing from Peddajagarlamudi, a village near Chilakalurpet in Prakasam district, Nagore Babu grew up in a musical atmosphere.

His father was a classmate of the nadaswaram maestro Sheikh Chinnamoula Saheb.

However Nagore Babu lost his father at the age of seven. But his mother encouraged him to learn the shehnai.

After learning Hindustani music for eight years Nagore Babu took to the flute.

Initially he learnt to play by listening to tapes and film songs.

He arrived in Hyderabad in 1987 to join a laboratory as a chemist after his graduation.

Keen on finding a guru he scouted around till somebody guided him to Manda Balarama Sarma, a retired staff artiste of All India Radio, who had been under the tutelage of Pullelaperi Somayajulu, M. Balamuralikrishna and T.R. Mahalingam.

This blind guru accepted him as his disciple recognising his innate talent. For the next few years Nagore Babu juggled a job (he had moved on to another laboratory Sipra where the M.D. Satyanarayana gave him freedom to hone his skills).

He got opportunities to play light and devotional music with his guru on All India Radio.

But his heart lay in classical. As he mastered the flute he began to give small concerts within the city and State.

When he got the offer from the ITC group to play at the Dakshin seven years ago he readily agreed.

His passion to learn increased and subsequently he gave up his job to pursue learning.

"Money was not the only thing in life. My heart was in Carnatic classical and I had to delve deep into it," says Nagore Babu.

And he is indebted to the Kakatiya Hotel for giving him this opportunity and turning him into a musician.

Like Kalidasa, who was blessed with the gift to write, Nagore Babu was blessed by Lord Venkateswara to play the flute.

Nagore Babu narrates an incident very few know of - an early morning dream he had about six years ago. "Around 4 a.m. I dreamt of visiting a big temple. When I could not have darshan as the doors of the sanctum were closed I sat forlorn against a pillar. Suddenly I felt a pat on my back. And I saw Lord Balaji in his resplendent vishwa roopam sitting on a chair telling me to ask for something. I just asked to be immersed in playing Carnatic music on the flute. I heard the god say tattastu before he vanished. The next day when I related this dream to my guru Manda BalaramaSarma he told me "I was extremely lucky to have this dream. Even we have not had the good fortune to experience such a thing." Interestingly, Nagore Babu had not even visited Tirupati and is a devotee of Sai Baba of Shirdi.

A parallel may be drawn at this juncture.

When Bhakta Ramdas was incarcerated at Golconda Rama and Lakshmana gave darshan to the ruler Taneshah instead of Ramdas.

Learning under Manda Balarama Sarma proved to be a fruitful exercise and he imbibed a style of playing (tinges of the renowned flautist T.R. Mahalingam's style is certainly visible in Nagore Babu's play).

"My guru used to talk about Mahalingam garu," says Nagore.

Playing classical music at the hotel gave an impetus to his career.

"All the people who heard me like flute maestro N. Ramani, N.S. Srinivasan (also a disciple of Mahalingam like Ramani) and the Sikkil Sisters (flute) and many others encouraged and blessed me. I feel satisfied and content when I receive such blessings.

After his guru's death in March 2001 Nagore Babu continues to learn from his guru's foremost disciple V. Nagaraj

Nagore Babu received many offers from the Telugu film industry. But he refused all.

"That is a different field. I am not interested in that. I want to make my mark in music," he says.

That needs an applause considering the infectious aura surrounding films. Also it requires steely determination not to be tempted by the lucre.

He now plays pure classical music at the hotel and gives a few concerts at temples and other gatherings.

Nagore Babu listens to instrumental and vocal music of all the vidwans. "Music is my life," says this artiste, who wants his son and daughter to be professional musicians.

He plans to get out an album after about six months. Music is certainly a burning passion in him. And he finds happiness in it.

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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