Duet In their joint recitals, Anooradha and Sriram share a lovely common musical vision.
The musicians themselves call it a ‘jugalbandhi,' obviously for want of a better expression. And the media even refers to it as ‘fusion' between Carnatic and Hindustani music. But neither of those terms really seems to provide a satisfactory definition or description of the joint vocal concerts of Sriram Parasuram and Anooradha Sriram -- in which the highly versatile and talented couple just sing assorted pieces of music belonging to both systems, sometimes (and not always) bringing out certain basic elements of contrast and similarity.
The Hindi expression ‘jugalbandhi' broadly refers to encounters between two or more musicians belonging to different gharanas in Hindustani music, representing different styles of performance -- or playing different kinds of instruments which are not usually played side-by-side -- or even belonging to different musical cultures, especially the Hindustani and Carnatic traditions.
Since both Sriram and Anooradha are equally proficient in both kinds of music, what materialises on such occasions is actually a partnership of like-minded musicians -- and not an encounter between two musicians representing two different styles or systems.
In fact, technically speaking, both of them are quite capable of projecting the same picture without involving the other; but in artistic terms, their combined performance adds infinite value to their music, because there's such a wonderful harmony between their voices. Of course, each of them has independent aspirations and accomplishments -- Anooradha as a shining playback singer in Indian cinema, and Sriram as a Hindustani violinist aiming to attain great heights of excellence and status. But when they sing together they share a lovely common musical vision which propels them in the same direction and ensures the integrity of their performance.
No wonder a large audience sat through their performance in the sweltering summer heat in the semi-outdoor venue at Hamsadhwani, with intense concentration.
After explaining and exploring the nuances of the ragas Abhogi (common to Hindustani and Carnatic music) and Kedar-Hamirkalyani, and rendering a Syama Sastri kriti in Anandabhairavi without any frills, the vocalists took up the well-known and extremely popular traditional thumri ‘Kaa Karoon Sajanee.'
One has heard many moving versions of this beautiful song, but perhaps never seen it melting the listeners' hearts as well as this one seemed to do!
After this tour de force, one would have expected anything else to be an anti-climax.
But the climax seemed to be an extended one, with a spirited version of a Purandaradasa song in Bhimplas, Tyagaraja's ‘Marugelara' in Jayantasri, and an eloquent vrittam in Tamil.
Effective instrumental support was provided by Srinivasa Rao (violin), Shertalai Ananthakrishnan (mridangam), Umakant Puranik (harmonium) and Gurumurthi Vaidya (tabla).