Purity in content and presentation were the hallmarks of Baby Sriram’s concert.
Music Academy’s hall matches almost 99 per cent studio condition taking into account the sound system, hall’s acoustics and the overall ambience. Performers have to take utmost care, for even a small aberration gets magnified. Things cannot be reversed as is possible in a studio. Performers have to stay focused for achieving this.
Viewed from this perspective, Trivandrum Baby Sriram’s mid-afternoon concert stood out for the purity in content and presentation. The Sankarabharanam varnam helped her gain confidence. The rendition of Dikshitar’s ‘Renuka Devi’ in Kannada Bangala reminded one of vidwan S. Rajam. The simple touches were just nothing but truth. It was an all women team on stage and Mandapakka Nagalakshmi’s (mridangam) beats were effective and on a par with any of the male vidwans. The Gaathram in her playing has to be experienced. Tyagaraja’s ‘Lokavanachatura’ (Begada-Adi) rarely heard these days, was refreshing. The alapana for Ranjani was an expressive exploration. Singing with a pitch of two and a half, Baby Sriram’s approach was totally aesthetic. ‘Durmargachara’ (Rupakam-
Tyagaraja) was laced with ragam-oriented swaras.Vaikkom Padma Krishnan’s (violin) reply was apt.
Kiravani, the main, was with a glisten and it was an earnest attempt by Baby Sriram to showcase its intricacies within classical parameters. Vaikkom Padma toed Baby’s line but her giving a tremolo in the upper shadjam time and again even if dramatisation was in her mind can never be accepted.
The shadjam and panchamam in Carnatic music are sathya swaras. Can truth be shaken? Never. Baby Sriram’s choice of pace for Syama Sastri’s ‘Brovu Brovu’ (mishram) did help her fathom further into the raga during the niraval. She was rock steady in her tempo till the completion of the kriti. A high octane thani by Mandapakka Nagalakshmi only went to prove that mridangam is no longer a male bastion.
It was shocking to learn that this is the only performance of Baby Sriram for the season and who is to be derided for this.