The jugalbandi of Bombay Jayashri and Shubha Mudgal was advertised as a musical dialogue between the Carnatic and Hindustani traditions. It turned out to be a delectable showcase of the two genres and the two artists of merit who were supported by Embar Kannan on the violin, Patri Satish Kumar on the mridangam, Aneesh Pradhan on the tabla and Sudhir Nayak on the harmonium.
The concert was organised to raise funds for the Sankalp Trust, the open school and learning centre for special children, at the Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall.
Shubha began with Purya Dhanashri in her powerful voice, and was complemented by Jayashri’s sugary sojourns which touched the corresponding Pantuvarali notes. Amazingly, their voices melded seamlessly; the power and poignancy came together beautifully.
Jayashri moved to ‘Sambho Mahadeva’ of Tyagaraja while Shubha expanded on ‘Dehi Tori Arabana’. They sang alternatively throughout. The dialogue continued with a few rounds of swaras from Jayashri while Shubha was contended with a plethora of sangatis.
Another special aspect of this jugalbandi was that it was absolutely democratic. Every accompanying artist enjoyed an individual identity even as he supported the vocalists. So we had Embar Kannan highlighting the strains of Abheri with soulful phrases, supplemented by Sudhir Nayak with equal poise on the harmonium. Their fine and versatile exchanges were noteworthy. The vocalists’ jaunt here was ‘Bhajare Manasa’ by Jayashri and ‘Ja Jare Apne’ by Shubha. Colourful variations followed by both but with subtle touches.
This exercise led to the tani avartanam between Patri Satish Kumar and Aneesh Pradhan. Following this, Jayashri projected ‘Marubari Talalenura’ in Khamas, which was answered by Shubha with ‘Manhar Likhne Mora’ in the same raag.
The highlight was a carefully built, aesthetically controlled conversation in Madhuvanti that created a stirring effect with its emotional presentation of poetry of Aneesh Pradhan by Shubha and Jayashri. The programme concluded with the sloka, ‘Spatika Rasitha Peete’ in the raag Bhairav.
The plus points of this jugalbandi were many -- no one dominated; there was no confusion nor were challenges thrown. On the contrary, the mutual admiration between the artists was palpable. The entire exercise was subtle and graceful.