A talented musician, an illustrator and a gas connection

They shared a friendship that transcended all barriers, especially in the conservative times they lived in. When the late V.V. Sadagopan, a multi-faceted musician, launched ‘Tyaga Bharathi’, a magazine for children, he was insistent that noted painter F.A. Razack should be its illustrator.

“He would visit our house on Arundale Street in Mylapore to meet my father in the early 1970s. When people noticed his presence, those who were learning music, particularly women, would come to our house and sing before him to get his appreciation. Saraswathi Mami, one of those singers, is still around,” said Razack’s son R.H. Kabir. As an ardent devotee of Saint Thyagaraja and follower of national poet Subramania Bharathi, Sadagopan launched ‘Tyaga Bharathi’, a movement to teach children music.

A native of Veeravanallur in Tirunelveli, he evolved well as a musician, musicologist and actor.

Razack was the most sought-after illustrator and painter and he regularly drew for ‘Kannan’, another magazine, published by Kalaimagal, the literary magazine.

Spirited away

“Sadagopan was impressed with my father’s work and asked him to draw for his magazine. The friendship continued till he disappeared one day,” he said. Sadagopan reportedly got off a train at Gudur on April 11, 1980, on his way from Delhi to Chennai. Afterwards, there was no information on his whereabouts. He would often have coffee at Razack’s house whenever he visited him. Once, it took about half an hour for Razack’s wife Mehrunisa Begam to make the coffee, and he wondered why it took so long.

“My father told him that we had only a pumping kerosene stove and a regular one. Two days later, Sadagopan arrived in a cycle rickshaw carrying a gas cylinder registered in my father’s name and a stove. His friend and tennis player Ramanathan Krishnan had a gas agency and he persuaded him to get a cylinder,” Mr. Kabir said.

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