A moving raga that has the power to melt mountains, Durbarikaanada is very popular in north India. “Durbari” raag has limited scope in traditional classical music, but it has been used extensively in film music. Viruttams, bhajans, and lighter pieces are sung in this raga in traditional kutcheris and M. S. Subbulakshmi's rendition of “Hari tum haro” is a lesson in this raga. The notes that appear in this enigmatic, alluring scale are Sadja, Chatusruti Rishabha, Sadharana Gandhara, Suddha Madhyama, Pancama, Suddha Dhaivata, and Kaishiki Nishada, and not in that order.
The popular classical pieces in this raga include “Govardhana Giridhara” of Narayana Theertha, “Nee Ninaindal” of Periasamy Thooran. Most film pieces in this raga have a touch of Kaanada raga too.
“Sivasankari” from the Telugu film “Jagadeka viruni katha”, sung by Ghantasala and composed by Pendyala Nageshwara Rao, is a masterpiece in this raga. The opening phrase is the majestic “RS D, NS” and the Dhaivata oscillation clearly establishes the raga beyond doubt. There is a Tamil version of this song as well, in the film Jagatala pratapan.
The film “Uthamaputhiran” had the mesmerising “Mullai malar mele” in this raga. The music director G. Ramanathan gently weaves in the key note, the Dhaivata, in the line “velli alai mele” in the pallavi itself and establishes the fact that this song is indeed Durbarikaanada and not just Kaanada.
“Marudamalai maamaniye” from the film “Deivam” (music by Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan, and sung with a plethora of stunning sangatis by Madurai Somu) is an evergreen treat in Durbarikaanada. In the phrase “kulam kaakum velaiyya ayya” the notes “G,M, RSD,,” take our breath away. We can soak in the raga’s complete rasa throughout this imperial piece.
In the attractive viruttam “En ippadi komanathadum” from “Thiruvilaiyadal” (music K. V. Mahadevan, sung by K. B. Sundarambal), the ragas Durbarikaanada and Kaanada follow each other. The concluding line “dhandapani deivame” is filled with a rare grace, very becoming of one of the greatest female artistes of her time.
“Ponneben” from the film “Policekaaran Magal” (music M. S. Viswanathan- Ramamurthy, sung by P. B. Srinivas and S. Janaki) is a love song, sensuous in appeal. The opening phrase, beginning at the Pancama in the lower octave, sets the mood for a calm and contemplative melody.
“Chinnanchiriya” from “Kungumam” (music K. V. Mahadevan) is a striking piece in Durbarikaanada and is remembered for the swara and akara dialogue in the crescendo between TMS and S. Janaki. The finishing phrase “MG MG P” that evokes the raga’s power and crystallises it at the upper-scale Pancama.
“Kelviyin Nayagane” from “Apoorva Ragangal” (music M. S. Viswanathan, sung by Vani Jayaram) is a moving situational song, and the slight hint of pathos that this raga brings out is cleverly used to build up the dramatic quotient in the movie. The bright opening in the upper-octave Gandhara and the subsequent traversal to the Suddha Dhaivata are stiking.
In “Agaya Vennilave” (Arangetra Velai), Ilayaraja brings out a refreshing point of view in the raga’s phrasings. Leaning a little towards the Saramati-Natabhairavi scales, this song is a unique attempt in Durbarikaanada. In “Sindhubhairavi”, “Poomaalai” is a noteworthy piece by Ilayaraja, beginning in pure Kaanada and the charanam gradually tending towards Durbari. In “Kalyana Thenila”, once again by Ilayaraja, the finishing line of the charanam, “NNPM NNPM PNS”, makes us take notice the innate bhava of this raga.
Other noteworthy pieces in this raga include “Kaatre en vaasal” by A. R. Rahman from “Rhythm”, “Konjum Salangai Oli” from “Konjum Salangai” by S. M. Subbiah Naidu (more Kaanada in this one than Durbari), “Vasanthathil Or Naal” from the Sivaji starrer “Moondru Deivangal” and “Malare mounama” by Vidyasagar in “Karna”. In “Malare” the phrase “malargal pesuma” clearly establishes the identity of Durbarikaanada.