When you have five musicians of the caliber of Sudha Raghunathan, Anil Srinivasan, Jayanthi Kumaresh, Naveen Iyer and Ambi Subramanian on the same stage, the musical brilliance they produce is enough to keep an audience happy. Saturday night’s concert, Panch Tantra, had an added advantage – the artistes were telling folk tales through strains, strings and notes.
Organised by Ashtalakshmi Creation Entertainment in aid of Eureka Child Foundation, the two-hour show at the Music Academy had a good number of Chennai’s expat population in attendance. An ever-charming Anil Srinivasan provided the introductions of artistes, songs and the concept behind the show, and peppered it with a liberal dose of humour, keeping the audience more than entertained.
As Srinivasan began the show, building up to a crescendo with his keys, flautist Naveen Iyer jumped straight in and rendered a lilting, almost a hauntingly good version of Ilaiyaraaja’s Kanne Kalaimaane from Kamal Haasan’s Moondram Pirai. Appreciative sighs and signs of recognition went around, and Srinivasan and Iyer (with violinist Ambi Subramanian raring to go) did full justice to the classic. The instrumental piece soon melded into an interplay between piano and violin that had shades of a Bach composition and was arranged by Srinivasan, “If you liked it, then it was my composition. And if you didn’t, then it’s on Ambi and Naveen,” he said, humourously.
Moving on to a popular folk story from the Jataka tales, the next 20-minute section was dominated by Veena exponent Jayanthi Kumaresh, who showed great poise, speed and interpretation – describing the flow of the story with changes in tone and speed. The common thread between all the performances that night was Srinivasan, as he played on tirelessly switching styles, mood and notation without breaking a sweat.
Almost an hour into the concert, the energetic Sudha Ragunathan took the stage. With powerful vocals to tell the tales now (incidentally, the concept was suggested by Anil Srinivasan), things became a lot more graphic as the musicians upped the ante and eventually left even the most seasoned music lovers drawing faster breaths at the end of it. But this wasn’t the end, as the organisers let on that this was just the first among a series of concerts to raise aid for charity.