A string of kritis with interesting explanation made Vishaka Hari’s programme engaging.
At the Music Academy, Vishaka Hari’s schedule mentioned only a ‘Sangeetha Upanyasam’ sans topic, but those who are familiar with Vishaka Hari would know that it would be an engaging ‘kutcheri’ wrapping many components of a regular concert with some interesting narration sprinkled in between.
So when Vishaka announced that she intended talking about three great composers of our Indian musical pantheon it was very obvious that it would be what was mentioned earlier. ‘Sangeetham’ being the core subject, Vishaka selected three ‘vaggeyakkaras’ in three languages – Purandaradasa the sangeeta pitamaha, Muthuswami Dikshitar, one of the Musical Trinity and Andal, the Tamil poet nonpareil. Indeed, a rare combo and as anticipated the common thread of music worked wonders.
After a poignant rendition of ‘Mokshamu Galada’ in Saramati, Vishaka emphasised the importance ‘satbhakti’ with ‘sangeetham’. She revelled on Purandaradasa’s life and compositions for a longer duration. The story of Navakoti Narayanan turning into Purandaradasa went with his songs such as ‘Sadhu Sangama’ ‘Innu Daya Barade’, ‘Naanaeke Badavanu’ and ‘Jagadodharana’ to name a few. Raga Behag, Kapi and Hindolam were vivaciously explored in the company of Usha Rajagopalan on the violin.
Muthuswami Dikshitar’s history occupied the central slot. Dikshitar’s mastery over the music, rhyme and rhapsody was explained through his oeuvre ‘Tyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam’ in Anandabhairavi. Vishaka also marvelled at the maestro’s ability to weave the name of the raga in every composition of his through a smart word play. Vishaka pointed out that each one of the Navagraha kritis was composed with extreme thought and intellect in seven different talas created by Purandaradasa. She cited reasons for the choice of ‘Suyamuthe’ in Sowrashtram, set in Dhurva talam. As in a concert, the main raga Amritavarshini was elucidated through a sloka and ‘Anandmrutha Karshini’ with torrents of kalpanaswaras took the time in the context of Dikshitar’s visit to the draught stricken Ettayapuram. This was appended with a brisk tani avartanam by H.S. Sudheendra and Sukanya Ramgopal on mridangam and ghatam, respectively.
A fleeting reference of ‘Meenakshi Memudam’ in Purvikalyani connected to the salvation of Dikshitar concluded this episode. Andal, and her life which made the month of Margazhi into days of music, dance and devotion, came under explication starting with the Thiruppavai ‘Mayanai Mannu’ in Sri ragam. The musical mélange just went on.
It is true that Vishaka Hari absorbs the attention of the contemporary audience with her easy language, English quotes and benign witticism. Above all, Vishaka Hari makes no bones about her predilection to music than matter. Probably, that is her strength.