The 12th edition of the four-day music festival in the name and memory of the late veteran vocalist M A Narasimhachar held from November 24 to 27 at Gayana Samaja provided a sumptuous and satiating treat of music. Well-experienced and zestful veena player Dr Jayanthi Kumaresh was honoured with the title of Gaana Vaaridhi and citation on the first day of the festival followed by her veena recital. The two vocal recitals by young Saketharaman and Gayathri Venkataraghavan held on the third and fourth day were outstanding.
There was a new depth to Saketharaman’s singing, a level of commitment and passion that regaled the rasikas. His voice was in prime form. So he easily did the multiple octaves, from the rock-solid low tones of mandra sthayi, to the soaring, ecstatic highs of his taara sthayi and made the listeners wonder at his effortless vocal productions. It was beautifully sung and deeply touching. An unfamiliar Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar’s krithi Prabho rakshamam in Gambheer Nata raga launched his recital. Shahana in an admirable pace fulfilled the demands of Papanasham Shivan’s krithi Chittam irangaale. He set the right tempo for his recital with an impressive singing of Thyagaraja’s Anaathudanugani (raga Jingla).
He revelled in the elaboration of a demanding raga Shubhapantuvarali. The detailed alapana, rendition of the weighty Dikshitar krithi Sri Sathyanarayanam upasmahe with abundant sangathees followed by a scholarly sahitya and swaravinyasa in which the audience finally finished applauding was the kind of an endearing moment that erased boundaries between artistes and audience. Raama Raama in trishra gati and Vasantha raga was crisp and full of feelings.
Saketharaman reached the peak of his expertise by rendering a multi raga, tana and pallavi set to sankeerna triputa tala (a thought-provoking 13 beats). The selection and singing of Saramathi, Rasikapriya, Bhairavi and Bageshri was enthralling. The way he negotiated the ragaalapana dialogue with the excellent violinist Mysore Shrikanth was enticing. The change over from one raga to the other was splendid and it was crowned by a brilliant rounding off of all those ragas. The taana also followed the same pattern. The vocalist displayed his brilliance and mastery over the pallavi not only in its traditional extension but also the manner in which the names of the ragas were placed in the pallavi line thus Saaramathim Seetha Rasikapriyaam Radhaam namaamyaham Bhairavi Bharatheem Bageshreem. The swaramalika had Revathi, Desh, Khamach and Madhuvanthi in addition to the above ragas. Mysore Shrikanth proved his worth as an inspiring violinist. Neyveli Narayanan on mridanga and Guruprasanna on khanjari were the top class accompanists.
The vocal recital by Gayathri Venkataraghavan was the most intimate kind of performance, a direct communication from a zealous singer to an enthusiastic audience. The delight was compounded when she shaped the emotional scope of the ragas and lyrics to fit the smaller and subtle confines of the laya.
Gayathri offered that stirring blend with a seasoned team of accompanists comprising Nalina Mohan (violin), Anur Ananthakrishna Sharma (mridanga) and C P Vyasavitthala (khanjari). Singing from the depth of her soul, she was in full vocal and dramatic command. Her tone was focused and flexible, with bright forays into its middle range that give it a sense of buoyancy. Even her offerings in the lower and higher registers lived and were loved by the listeners. A seamlessly flowing Mohana was followed by Rangapuravihara (Brindavana saranga) bristling with spicy detail. The feeling of raga Chenchukambhoji was palpable when she crisply sang Thyagaraja’s Vararagalaya. She made the lovers of music savour some extraordinary moments when she sang a composition (Shakti vitri, Poorvikalyani) in which Nandanar’s pure devotion is reflected with a useful introduction to it. Gayathri shared thrilling levels of excitement, ecstasy and intimacy while dealing with Kharaharapriya (Chakkani rajamargamu with neraval at Kantiki with swaras) in detail.
Grace of Mohini Attam
Veteran and prolific Guru Sridevi Unni of Monisha Arts has extended the frontiers of the graceful and lyrical Mohini Attam dance form. Her great charm and expertise spanning more than four decades without profaning her art form in any manner have been applauded. She has been imparting training to the aspirants of both Bharatanatya and Mohini attam in her school. Kalanjali-2013, an annual presentation was held at the ADA Rangamandira under the banner of Monisha Arts.
She enacted with consummate grace. Sridevi’s dance combined virtuosity and depth with captivating dynamics. Her dance stood out with all the purity and ineffable artistry of Mohini Attam.
Her sub-junior students gave a good account of themselves in the rendition of Bharatanatya. The effortless ease with which dancers Darshana Arun, Sumy Sreekumar and Shanthi Iyer executed Chollukattu (the invocatory item) was noteworthy. Young Megha was at home in depicting the Navarasas in her Navarasanjali.
In Swati Tirunal’s Jhinjhoti jatiswara the hold over nritta of the dancers got exposed. Shruthi Menon’s histrionic talent got etched in the padabhinaya which was based on Swati Tirunal’s Enthu mama sadanthi.
For a welcome change, Guru Sridevi Unni herself came on the stage and enacted Tirunal’s pada Balike Moham. Her style and her natural expression of even the subtlest emotions through her face and eyes, coupled with hand gestures and body movements, marked her out as a complete artiste. The recorded music was handled properly.