There exists a graceful raga that, with its seven notes, is capable of creating innumerable phrasings, each more stimulating than the previous. It is the queen of the raga family, and it's called “Kalyani”. In the Hindustani system, this raga is known by the name “Yaman”.
Sadja, Chatusruti Rishabha, Antara Gandhara, Prati Madhyama, Pancama, Chatusruti Dhaivata and Kakali Nishada are the notes taken by Kalyani. The nishada is particularly important while expanding this raga, as is the gandhara.
There are many kritis in this raga. Thyagaraja's “Ethavunara”, “Vasudevayani”, “Nidhichala”, Dikshitar's Kamalamba Navavarana “Kamalambam Bhajare,” and Shyama Sastri's “Talli Ninnu Nera” definitely merit mention.
The melodic beauty of Kalyani has added a third dimension to many a movie. In “Sinthanai Sei Maname” from “Ambikapathy”, G. Ramanathan showcases the key phrases of the raga. In the lines “Sentamizhkarul gnana desaganai,” the embellishments free-wheeling from the tara sthayi gandhara are a treat.
Then there is the monumental “Mannavan Vandanadi” by K. V. Mahadevan from the film “Thiruvarutchelvar”. In the charanam, each of the seven swaras are sung with a tag-line - “sa – sadhamadhu tharava......ni - iraiarul perava”.
“Mugathil Mugam Parkalam” by MSV-Ramamurthy, from “Thangapadhumai”,starts brightly in the upper sadja and in the lines “virall nagathil...” the nishada is sensibly highlighted. “Maduraiyil Paranda” from “Poova Thalaiya”, once again by MSV-Ramamurthy, is a Kalyani with a light and breezy feel, “mellisai” in the true sense of the word.
Ilayaraja has composed several of his super-hits in Kalyani raga, each of them distinctive in appeal. “Janani Janani” from “Thai Mookambikai” is a piece filled with devotional fervour. Preceded by the first shloka from Soundarya Lahari, this song is very often sung by several light music troupes as the opening piece and with due reason. Kalyani is indeed auspicious and this is why it's used in weddings and other functions as an ideal background raga. In “Ammavendrazhaikkada” from “Mannan” Ilayaraja uses Yesudas's resonant voice to its fullest potential and the lines “unnale pirandhene” - snr,,ndp/pmd,,mdpmgrsn bring forth both the raga bhava and the lyrical bhava.
In “Sindhu Bhairavi” the song “Kalaivaniye” features the raga's phrases that only ascend the scale. A challenging piece to compose and execute, this one's a stunner by Ilayaraja. More recently he has come up with “Kaatril Varum Geetame” from “Oru Naal Oru Kanavu”, a soft, soothing piece.
“Dekh Hame Awaaz Na Dena” from the film “Amardeep”, with music by C. Ramachandra, is based on a Greek tune! Kalyani has travelled all the way to Greece and is hugely popular there as well. Shankar Mahadevan's album “Breathless” featured the striking Yaman piece “Koi jo mila tha mujhe”.