Enthusiastic and energetic, young and diminutive dancer Niveditha Desai proved that she is a communicator par excellence in her Bharatnatyam recital held at Ravindra Kalakshetra last week. Trained by a veteran Bharatnatyam Guru K.M. Raman, Niveditha was applauded for her enjoyable medium paced Bharatnatyam. Her passion for dance was obvious and she exhibited confidence that lent sheen to every movement and expression. Her performance unfolded with a familiar Annamacharya krithi, Jaya Janaki Ramana, raga and talamalika and a traditional mishra alarippu. It was delightful to watch her negotiating varieties of adavus woven into the Shankarabharana Jathiswara and executing the mukthayas with conviction and precision. The enactment of a shabda (ragamalika, Swati Tirunal) focusing on the Krishna leelas was proof enough of the impact her abhinaya had on the viewer.
Excellently backed up by Harish Raman (nattuvanga), Indira Shankar (vocal), Madhusudan (violin), Ganesh (flute), M R Rangaswamy (mridanga) and Betta Venkatesh (morsing), Niveditha delved neatly into her refined talent and sense of artistry to present an enthralling varna by Tanjavur Quartet set to Khamach raga (Saami ni rammanave). The plight of the pining nayika and her entreaties to sakhi to call back her hero were sketched sensitively. At a macro level, she made a striking picture of grace, dignity, good posture and good footwork in the nritta, nrithya and abhinaya aspects of the varna. In the latter part of her performance she delineated Lingaraju’s krithi Shringaralahari set to Neelambari raga with ease. The chittaiswaras were effectively converted into a piece of clear cut nritta.
Confident and ebullient
An expert Bharatnatyam exponent Deepa Bhat of Nrithya Kuteera presented one of her talented students, Ambika Shivaramu in a Bharatnatyam recital held on Sunday morning at the Kalaa Soudha, Hanumanthanagar. The erect postures, carefully placed fingers and meticulously bent legs bespoke Ambika’s mastery of craft. She possesses an appealing blend of confidence and enthusiasm. Her short yet vibrant recital illustrated a keen involvement that was apparent in her good footwork and keen rhythmic sense. Her perceptive portrayal of Ananda narthana Ganapathi demonstrated deep sensitivity. The chaurashra alarippu was tidily done. Patnam’s Shabda on Lord Krishna was communicated rewardingly.
The central piece of the recital was Manavi chaikonna in Shankarabharana raga. This is addressed to Lord Brihadeeshwara of Tanjavur. The heroine in the long absence of her hero is desperate and also angry with Him. She beseeches Him to return to her. Ambika’s abhinaya showed that she understood the inner meaning and brought it out with feeling. Her ending poses were memorable. Her dance was pure unadulterated Bharatnatyam. Hence she was deservingly appreciated by the rasikas. Ambika did well in the vibrant, confident and graceful portrayal of a Shankarabharana pada Daari choochi addressed to Lord Rajagopal.
Skilful vocalist R Chandrika’s recital at the Seshadripuram College auditorium under the aegis of Sri Seshadripuram Rama Seva Samithi during Sri Rama Navami music festival on Thursday stood out in the series and is proof enough of her aptitude. Blessed with a pliable and pleasing voice, the fundamentals of the aesthetics of her music style being in place, she exhibited her capacity to grow into an impressive performer. Her phrasing was admirable. The presence and play of Ganeshkumar (violin) and Renukaprasad (mridanga) as the accompanists added depth to her singing.
Chandrika began with a salutation to Sri Mahaganapathe with kalpanaswara ornamentation. Jayachamaraja Wodeyar’s Saraswathi Bhagavathi (Hamsavinodini raga) was a joyful choice. A crisp Nee dayarada (Vasanthabhairavi) facilitated a favourable ambience to listen to a detailed Hindola.
A rarely heard Annamacharya’s Deva devam bhaje was sung with feelings. She preserved the aesthetics of classical music and sang accordingly. None of the modern day influences spilled over to colour the Carnatic aesthetic. The listeners could feel directly the import of the lyrics in her lively and beautiful presentation. Her rendition of a detailed Mohana fir a rare krithi Peddalenundu nammithi Rama was simply a reiteration of how well-nurtured our cultural roots are in the diaspora. Even an artistic neraval and rhythmically complex swarasprastara could not dampen the singer’s spirits. The prime place of the concert was accorded to the elaboration of Kharaharapriya. Couched in clear and lucid simplicity, she traversed the three sthayis in a restrained coverage. The pivotal notes of the raga were felicitously highlighted to erect a shining edifice of the twenty second melakartha. Raara eni pilachithe was sung, according to the demand of the lyrics, in a pleasant pace. Neraval was carried out at Elaa avatara mettitivo and rounded off with scholarly swaras.
Glory of Mysore Vaggeyakaras
The term ‘Vaggeyakara’ is very much used in Carnatic music and is of great importance. It is because of the fact that this genre of Indian music has been gifted with some great personalities and music maestros who composed krithis (lyrics and the binding of raga and laya/tala) and sung them especially during the Bhakthi Movement between the years 1500-1900. Since then we have a big chronology of significant Vaggeyakaras. It is very difficult to find a synonym for this Sanskrit word in English. The term ‘composer’ certainly falls way short of the actual meaning of ‘Vaggeyakara’.
The term vaggeyakara means a person who is a poet and a musician-musicologist, who can produce integrated songs and whose songs have the appropriate blend of vaak (words) and geya (musicality).
The creator of such integrated songs is called the Vaggeyakara.
Generally there are two types: The superior ones simply sing a song with bhava in a befitting tune and rhythm in an inspired moment and the followers note down the compositions and propagate them. The lesser ones write the poetry first and then adapt it to a suitable raga and devise the tune thereafter. After the Trinity of music (Saint Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Sastry), the Carnatic arena saw the advent of a good number of Vaggeyakaras. The contributions of Haridasaas of Karnataka in general and Purandaradasa in particular in this regard are immense and varied.
Their compositions are seen as divinely inspired; they are seen as fruits of bhakti not of inborn genius. Even during the 20th century we were benefitted by many Vaggeyakaras who composed in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit and other languages. They undoubtedly enriched and endeared the classical Carnatic music with the technical details of their compositions including those in rare ragas, the literary excellence, the musical contents like sangathis etc.,
It is worth noting that the Karnataka State has produced many such great Vaggeyakaras who have made the Carnatic music further wealthy and richer with the varied compositions bearing the stamp of their individuality and ingenuity.
Mysore Sangeetha Vidyalaya, now shifted from Dombivali (Mumbai) to Bengaluru, led by veteran vocalist Uma Nagabhushan and assisted by her dynamic husband Nagabhushan, has conceptualized a project to unveil the significance and supremacy of the Mysore Vaggeyakaras.
An ambitious musical project Mysore Vaggeyakara Namana under the direction of Uma Nagabhushan was inaugurated recently by the Shringeri Jagadguru Sri Sri Sri Bharathateertha Mahaswamiji by lighting a lamp. The Mahaswamiji in his scholarly speech threw light on the relevance of the project. Nagabhushan gave an introductory note on the theme.
The formal inauguration was followed by a group rendition of a select few compositions of famous Mysore Vaggeyakaras like T Chowdaiah, Mysore Sadashivarao, Veene Seshanna, Mysore Vasudevacharya, Muthaiah Bhagavatar, Jayachamaraja Wodeyar and so on.
The disciples of Uma, Sudhamani, Nagaveni, Gayathri, Aruna, Sowmya accompanied by Nataraj Koppa (violin) and Gangadhar (mridanga) sang melodiously Prasanna Ganapathe (Bahudari), Shringerinilaye Sharade (Kalyani), Maamava Saraswathi (Marga Hindola), Sagara Kannika (Begade), Mama hridaye (Reetigowla), Pranatarthihara (Jhanjhoti), Bhuvaneshwariya (Mohana Kalyani) and others in unison. These compositions evidenced the aesthetic, emotional, literary and artistic skills of the great Mysore Vaggeyakaras.