Confident and imaginative, Mahathi was a treat to listen to.
For an artist, mere erudition is not enough. Performing skill is essential too. Mahathi is blessed with both. She is intelligent, respects tradition, possesses imagination, and above all, she is confident. Singing film songs has not dulled her edge or interest in Carnatic music. She handles both the styles in a mutually exclusive manner.
During the last one year, there has been a great deal of change (for the better) in her performance. She is well on her way in evolving her own bani (style), distinct from that of her guru, Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan. This is no easy task. For any ardent disciple, the powerful influence of the style of his or her master is inevitable. Instead of imitation, the disciple will have to strive for evolution. I do not know if she is consciously doing this. In any case, my good wishes to her.
In her morning concert, her craving for something new came to the fore when she offered a detailed alapana of Rasikapriya. She could effortlessly carve the melodic stamp of the 72nd (last) Melakartha with a generous spring of manodharma. While one would have expected the usual ‘Arul Seyya Vendumayya,’ she sprang a surprise by rendering a rare Dikshitar kriti, ‘Sringara Rasa Manjari’ (Rupakam) on Devi Kamakshi. In the Dikshitar School, this raga is known as Rasamanjari.
Equally inspiring was her elaborate Sankarabharanam elucidation. Beginning with soft, silky sancharas, it gathered momentum and then the weighty aspects of the raga were well portrayed. In Tyagaraja’s ‘Enduku Peddala,’ Mahathi offered niraval and swaras at the usual ‘Veda Sasthra.’
Earlier, she commenced her concert with a lively Durbar varnam, followed by Tyagaraja’s ‘Ragaratnamalikache’ (Rupakam) in Reethigowla. After a sparkling alapana of Hindolam, she presented Arunachala Kaviraya’s ‘Ramanukku Mannan.’ There were a few rare, enjoyable sancharas in ‘Pamaramae Unakku’ and in ‘Pazham Nazhuvi Paalil Vvizhunthaal Poal’. The kalpanaswaras at ‘Pattam Katta Etravandee’ were inspiring.
A Malayalam piece, ‘Varumo Nin Karuna Kataksham’ (Khanda Chapu) in Saranga on Sri Guruvayurappan was well rendered. In ‘Chinnanjiru Kiliye,’ the concluding add-ons in Hindolam, Nilambari, Valachi and Brindavana Saranga were attractive.
On the violin, M.A. Krishnaswamy’s Rasikapriya was splendid while his Sankarabharanam was stately. In Hindolam, he produced a few original sancharas. M.S. Varadan (mridangam) has a unique and supportive style of accompanying the main artist. His thani along with Madipakkam Murali (ghatam) was a rhythmic marvel, especially the Misra Nadai.