Attending and relishing music and dance programmes at a place away from the crowded and noisy city atmosphere is always refreshing and rejuvenates the spirit. Recently, one such experience became an unforgettable one for various reasons. Sri Rajarajeshwari Cultural Association located in the cool and calm Rajarajeshwarinagara, off Mysore Road, deserves to be applauded for its continuous support to cultural activities for the past 12 years. The completion of 12 years and presentation of the 250th programme under its banner was certainly a praiseworthy landmark.
To look back, a few like-minded rasikas were brought together by noted singer Jahnavi Jayaprakash to form an association in order to encourage cultural activities in Sri Rajarajeshwarinagara. Jahnavi Jayaprakash was an ingenuous vocalist. Her melodious and emotive voice was mesmerising. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that she set the trend for vocal music for dance. She became an uncrowned queen of the particular genre (singing for dance) and has quite successfully held the fort for several years. She became the most sought after vocalist for classical dance by dancers in and outside the country. Her music compositions, simplicity and scholarship endeared her to the field of dance. She brought immense joy to the rasikas and will continue to do so through her legacy of great recordings.
Her untimely and unexpected death was a great blow to classical music and dance fields alike. But thanks to connoisseurs like Radhakrishna, Shivaswamy, dancer Padmini Sridhar and others, the activities started by the Association continued. They did well to dedicate the activities to the memory of the departed vocalist. Music and dance programmes/festivals, programmes for women and children, et al, continued to be held at regular intervals. It has been a good practice to honour two of Jahnavi’s disciples during the anniversary celebrations followed by performances by the artistes felicitated.
The 12 anniversary coincided with the presentation of the 250th programme on last Saturday at Subhash Bhavan. Jahnavi’s niece and a merited dancer, Brinda, and her disciple, a seasoned vocalist, Padma Adiga were felicitated on the occasion.
Padma Adiga was in her fine fettle and form. She sang with the sincerity of purpose. Accompanied suitably by Rajeevalochana (violin) and Narasimhaprasad (mridanga), she impressed the audience with her sensitive, passionate and engaging performance. She started her recital with the popular Abhogi varna and the way she rounded off the ettukkade with swaras was admirable. Sri Mahaganapathim in Athana was followed by the highlight of her recital - the elaboration of Malayamarutha raga for Manasayetulo. A short neraval at Kali lo rajasa was ornamented with kalpanaswaras. She moved the audience with her soulful singing of Purandaradasa’s Paalisemma muddu Sharade (with a Ugabhoga Ninnane paaduve) in Madhuvanthi, Valachi and Bagesri ragas and Sripadaraja’s Ako node Ranganathana (with a Ugabhoga Dhyanavu kritha yugadi) in Brindavana Saranga raga.
A great conductor, elegant and refined dancer, Guru Brinda presented her disciples Ananya, Sumathi, Shreya, Anu, Keerthana and Sunil in a group Bharatanatyam. The Marga-oriented production had absolute integrity and resonant beauty as a cultural construct. The young dancers demonstrated that they have continued to work with the rigour of the traditional forms that were passed on to them and also have begun to innovate within the forms. It has resulted in freshness, vitality and vigour in their work. What stood out in their renditions was their passionate commitment to communicate the significance, importance and wealth of knowledge embodied by the traditional dance form. They displayed an effective interplay between individuals and group movements.
The opening Pushpanjali (Khadyothkanthi raga) and Ananda narthana (Nata) was excellent. Their nritta was in place. The ragamalika item Jaya Janaki came off like a mini Ramayana. The greatness of Lord Vishnu was graphically shown with Narayana Hari as the source material. Essentially a nritta, Mysore Jathi was uniquely rendered. Brinda deserves a special word of praise for keeping in tact this gem of a composition and passing it on to the future generations. The young and beautiful dancers did their Guru Brinda proud by capturing the elegance of the eight Lakshmis (Ashta Lakshmi) on the basis of a ragamalika composition Ashta Lakshmi.
The seasoned vocalist duo of Ranjani and Gayathri started off to some hiccups but soon settled down to regale the audience at Bangalore Gayana Samaja with their duet which was part of the Veeneya Bedagu series of concerts. They need to be commended for their efforts in rendering a few krithis by a great vainika-vaggeyakara Veene Seshanna (in whose memory the festival was held), a topically relevant attempt indeed.
Superbly supported by H M Smitha (violin), Manoj Siva (mridanga) and Sukanya Ramagopal (ghata), they began with a very rarely heard but mighty varna by Veene Seshanna set to a demanding jhampa tala and Saveri raga sung in two kaalaas. Studded with grand sancharas and swara patterns, it can be compared to the Bhairavi atatala varna Veeriboni. As usual Thyagaraja’s Nenendu vetukudura (Karnataka Behag) was rendered crisply with kalpanaswaras. The krithi in Dharmavathi raga by Veene Seshanna was adorned with ragalapana and neraval. But the missing swaraprastara was noticed. Dikshitar’s Hiranmayim created a congenial atmosphere to listen to a detailed Madhyamavathi (with alapana, neraval and swaras) for Thyagaraja’s Naadu pai. Swati Tirunal’s Ahanaiva jane (Amrutavarshini) was a delight to the ears.
Ranjani and Gayathri outshone each other in the magnificent delineation of raga Bilahari. The ragaalpana traversing all the sthayis had striking birkas and phrases. The grandeur of Mysore Vasudevachar’s krithi Sri Chamundeshwari palayamam was explored in the neraval and swaravinyasa segments.