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Updated: May 10, 2010 07:56 IST

She's got the whole world on a string

Ranjani Govind
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Jayanthi Kumaresh
Jayanthi Kumaresh

A young veena performer from the Lalgudi family, immersed in a concert by veena S. Balachander and her aunt-guru Padmavathi Ananthagopalan, was called on stage by the maestro himself to take part. She impressed enough for him to announce that the young talent would henceforth flourish in his school. If that was a day Jayanthi Kumaresh cherishes, it is no wonder that her performances today, resonant with Balachander's style, are stamped with remarkable intellectual value.

Even the recent Kumaresh-Jayanthi ‘violin-veena melodic-samvaada' at the Chamarajpet Ramseva Mandali was steeped in classicism with nary a hint of dumbing down.

Rigour of discipline

Although Lalgudi Rajalakshmi's gifted daughter continued her tutelage under Balachander till his death in 1990, she makes it a point to underscore the strong foundation and strict schooling she received from her aunt Padmavathi.

“It wasn't just the classes, the disciplinarian that she was had me work in clockwork precision through the day. After school, her timetable had me take up yoga, typing, French classes, dance, music lessons and creative pursuits of writing and poetry.”

Jayanthi, who has a Masters in English Literature, says “every pursuit will come in handy for decades”.

Beyond clichés

Consider the sumptuousness of her approach, which, from the gayaki styling went on to grasp the highly individualistic creativity of Balachander's genius.

“Every raga has to be discovered beyond its clichéd phrases,” she says. “Balachander was fond of raga expositions more than format-kritis, as lyrics and language, he believed, were beyond the realms of an instrument.”

Jayanthi too is self-made, as her approach over the years of melodic discovery is fashioned in a way that “people understand the divine characteristics of the instrument too”. Novelty in her exercises are also to be commended, for, nothing strays beyond the classical contours. It is here that her husband Kumaresh explains her CD Thillana-Thillana that has some bracing exclusivity.

Jayanthi enjoys her role in Shastriya Syndicate Presentations (a Hindustani and Carnatic collaboration) just as she sounds animated to spearhead her fusion band, Indian Spice, that has piquant raga-based presentations with vocals, drums, Latin percussion, keyboard, tabla, violin and, of course, the veena.

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