Noted flautist Sikkil Neela gave a mesmerising recital for Karthik Fine Arts at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, recently. Filled with ingredients of various genres, I was glad to observe her penchant for the diction of the kritis. Her vidwat was evident throughout the recital, which covered the technical aspects of music. Thanks to the relentless experimentations and practice she has been having over the decades. Neela’s presentation of a Thyagaraja kriti in ragam Udayaravichandrika, revealed her adeptness at handling kritis. This was followed by Nenaruji kriti of Thyagaraja in raga Malavi, displaying her illustrative skill to dwell extensively on the features of emotive aesthetics. It was a fine presentation interwoven with brisk swara play and varying tala patterns. Strongly sruti-based and intensively laya conscious that the artiste is, Neela portrayed the contours of raga Reethigowla (Nannu Vidachi) in Misra chapu. That was essayed well with all its intricate and popular move. Neela stole the show, identifying the classic expansion of the raga’s own elastic dimensions, and bhava content, where the composer seeks the grace of Lord Rama. The kriti presentation was expressive in approach. With this number, certainly, she brought out the devotional fervour. The artiste went on a spree of swara prayagas in Maragatha Valleem in the Khambodi raga Kirthana of Thyagaraja, richly flowering in sanchara designs with no manipulative gymnastics. Then she descended on to identify the raga swaroops of Kaanada, Begada, Sama, Lalitha, Kaapi, and Behag, evoking the appreciative audience’s attention. Her ingrained manodharma and an innate strength of laya, weaving a rich repertoire of carnatic music on the flute proved her Sikkil baani.
No doubt that Neela enchanted the audience with her numbers of high quality and her soul stirring presentation style. She was accompanied by M A Sundaraswaran on violin, who was an apt foil. Bala Shankar on mridangam, Pudukottai Ramachandran on ghatam, gave an adequate laya and percussional support.