A programme called ‘Katha Keerthan’ held under the auspices of Kala Samarpan and led by noted stage, sound and lighting expert TD Srinivas of Prabhath Kalavidaru and his budding Kathak dancer-daughter Rohini Prabhath at the newly opened KEA auditorium, Basaveshwaranagara was noteworthy. The auditorium designed and built by Srinivas is a compact artiste-audience friendly structure. The wide stage is perfect for group presentations. There is also vast scope for sophisticated stage and lighting arrangements. ‘Katha Keerthan’ presented by renowned dancer-couple Nirupama and Rajendra on the Sri Rama Navami day was unique. The glory of Katha Keerthan as an art form and also as a powerful and effective medium of communication was highlighted. The beauty and significance of ‘Sankeerthan,’ a congregational expression of rhythms, chants and dance was also underscored.
The simple spoken words, rich poetry, impactful music, visually pleasing, precise and perfect dancing, useful and minimal props et al flowed together. Music by Praveen Rao, singing by Vijay Prakash and Varijashree cast a magic on the rasikas.That being Sri Rama Navami day, it was very apt that the theme revolved around Lord Rama. The stories of Ahalya, Kevat (a poor boatman and a staunch devotee of Sri Rama), an old woman Shabari who welcomes her favourite God Sri Rama and feeds him berries already tasted by her, were recalled artistically and aesthetically by the dancers.
The medium of Katha Keerthana or Harikatha is one of the oldest forms of storytelling. Compositions and inputs drawn from various mythological sources are used in the unfolding of the narrative.
Of late, dance is not to be found in Katha Keerthana but Nirupama and Rajendra used Kathak and Bharatanatya movements throughout. Supportive textual inputs were drawn from the Ugabhogas, devaranamas (padas) of Haridadasa, Sanskrit shlokas, Valmikin and Tulasidas’ Ramayanas, Thyagaraja’s finest Mukhari krithi (Kanulara sevinchi) and others. Brief dialogues and monologues in Hindi added an artistic dimension.
The Katha Keerthana programme concluded with Sankeerthana with Rohini Prabhath,Neha, Ragini, Vishruthi, Srividya, Adithi, Saanchi, Komal and others joining Nirupama and Rajendra to chant, sing, clap and dance together.
Scholarly Ubhaya Gaana
Evocative Karnatak and Hindusthani music resonated at Sri Rama Mandira auditorium when Pandit Venkatesh Sharma rendered a radically distinctive Ubhaya Gaana concert last Tuesday. He was singing for Vyalikaval Sri Rama Seva Mandali during Sri Rama Navami celebrations. It is a demanding task to switch over from one style to the other style of music. It calls for a thorough proficiency in both the systems. The subtleties and the points of divergence have got to be taken care of and emphasised and Pandit Venkatesh Sharma’s efforts deserve to be lauded.
He was accompanied harmoniously by B. Raghuram (violin), N. Vasudev (mridanga) for Karnatak music and Neetha Vivek Hegde and Gopalakrishna Hegde Kalbhag (tabla) for Hindusthani music.
The Ubhaya Gaana began with the singing of Nata for Jaya Janaki.
This was followed by Rag Jog. This Hindusthani raga has the same features of Nata of Karnatak music.
But adhering to the pure discipline of Hindusthani, Venkatesh Sharma kept up its individuality. He embarked upon a detailed sketching of Poorvi Kalyani raga. The alapana had a tri-sthayi reach and range.
Violinist Raghuram made it more authentic by rendering a few catchy phrases drawn from popular krithis set in that raga. Thyagaraja’s Paraloka sadhana me manasa was ornamented with erudite swaraprastara without a neraval.
The contrasting Pooriya Kalyan was sung immediately in vilambit and drut layas. There were refined taans, bol taans and sargams of beauty.
The singer’s profound knowledge of music got expressed through his rendition of an intricate Hameer Kalyani raga. He sang Swati Tirunal’s Gangeya Bhushini and rounded it off with scholarly swaras. Switching over to Hindustani mode, he sang Kedar and a tarana before concluding with Bhairavi.
— Dr. M.SURYA PRASAD