Roopa Mahadevan paid a competent tribute to the ragas she chose.
Faithful to the sruti, pure in the notes, replete with brigas and easy at the lower and upper octaves alike, Roopa Mahadevan delivered a wholesome concert in a sustained husky voice. Every number – be it in Gowla, Begada, Purvikalyani, Hindolam or Sankarabharanam -- demonstrated her effort to extract the best of the raga lakshna and keertana lakshana without letting the performance drag at any point.
Opening with ‘Gananaathaaya Namaste’ of Dikshitar in Gowla, Adi, and Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar’s ‘Anudinamunu Kaavumaiya Hari Venkateswara’ in Begada, Roopa etched a few strokes of swaras at ‘Kanakanaruchi.’
Papanasam K. Gokul on the violin was effective with his response. The young N.C. Bharadwaj (a mere boy) displayed such a musical sensitivity as one could look for only in a seasoned mridangam artist and captured the hearts of the listeners.
Roopa patiently steered Purvikalyani through the three stayis with delightful brigas. It was an inspired and competent tribute to the raga. With the violin chipping in with equally impassioned playing, the whole phase was a 12-minute rich experience. Her choice of Thanjavur Ponniah's composition in Misra Chapu, ‘Saattileni Guruguha’ was as apt as it was unexpected.
Roopa pitched on the charanam sahitya ‘Koti Manmatha Roopude’ at panchamam on samam for some four minutes. The mid-stream switch to madhyama sruti was justified by the selection of Dikshitar’s ‘Neerajaakshi Kaamaakshi’ with the majesty that characterises the composer. It was profound and solemn.
Consistently satiating as her performance had been till then, it was in Sankarabharanam that Roopa struck new heights of transcendence. The aesthetic blend of gamaka and karvai was spiced with briga mixed with tasteful modulation, with never a trace of stridency or falsetto.
She churned out the ‘nectar of the note and tune’ that Tyagaraja must have visualised when he composed ‘Swararaga Sudha Rasa’ in an attempt to attain supreme bliss (‘Mudamagu Mokshamura’) through extracting the divine vibration (‘Naada Merugute’) by stimulating the subtle source (‘Mooladhara’). Not only her diction but also her strong, firm musical strokes did full justice. In her slow and fast niraval and kalpanaswaras at ‘Mooladhara’ Roopa almost lost touch with her surroundings.
Even as Bharadhwaj began his percussion solo in tisram the audience was thrilled, and hardly had he completed the first round of avartanams when the auditorium erupted into a hearty applause.
Roopa wrapped up her concert with a soulful Purandaradasa song.