I was reading a tribute to Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan last week when a couple of incidents came to my mind.
The first one happened more than 15 years ago. The movie Keladi Kanmanai was just released. DD Tamil was doing a special program for some festival occasion. There was a program by Kunnakudi and someone requested him to play the song "Mannil indha" from that movie. The song was a big hit and was famous for its breathless song by SPB. So, Kunnakudi asked the person, how should he play it. "Moochu vidama padanuma illa Moochu vittu padanuma". (Should it be played without taking a breath as in the original song or otherwise). The compere was stunned for a minute. Kunnakudi laughed and explained. If the bow stays on the strings continuously throughout the song it is called "Moochu vidama" and if the bow loses contact with the string, it is "Moochu vittu padarathu". And then to everyone's astonishment, he played it as he told.
The second incident I remember happened last year at the Sree Ramanavami Concerts at the Rama Seva Mandali. Kunnakudi had finished a song and was getting ready to start the next one. One of the accompanists got up and started walking down the stage, most probably to take a bio-break. When Kunnakudi saw this, he played the tune of "Ponal pogattaum Poda", a famous tamil film song. The entire audience burst into laughter and started clapping. The accompanist must have been embarrassed.
The few times that I have seen him play in concerts live, I have come back dumbstruck, amazed at the way he makes the violin dance to his tune. One of the best violinists of our era is no more. May his soul rest in peace.
PS: Another amusing incident happened at the same concert. He had come to the concert from Delhi after playing for the President and was accompanied by his wife. After the concert was over, I went closer to the stage to get a better look of everyone. I was standing behind his wife, when one Mami approached her and asked:
Mami: Neenga enna Iyera? Kunnakudi's Wife: ... (with a surprised look) M: Ungaluku ponnu irruka? K: ... (Even more surprised) M: En payanuku pakkalamnu ... K: Yes, but she is married and has a kid. :-) M: speechless (people around start laughing)