Baby Sriram’s otherwise enjoyable concert fell short as she took too many liberties with her voice and in the process over reached the limits.
Two factors influenced the character of Baby Sriram’s Bahulapanchami concert under the auspices of Sri Thyagaraja Seva Samiti in association with Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha – one her relentless drive to be impressive and the other, exhibitionistic interpretation. Her heavy voice and sound foundation in classicism aided this objective. A thought crossed the mind as to how her concert would have fared if she had paid attention to gentle mellowness of exposition.
Baby Sriram’s particular style and musical content provided a glimpse of her sincerity. She was quite at ease in the Madhyama sthayi, but when it reached the tara shadja and beyond the forceful strain in the negotiation of sancharas and sangatis in kirtanas exposed chinks now and then.
Her Sriranjani, Sankarabharanam and Thodi alapana patterns represented inspiring classicism, touching creative segments, by itself a call to appreciation. Manodharma moved with precision and brought to each sanchara, dynamism. With conventional phrasings she also ventured on some adventurous excursion.
In rendering kirtanas her interpretative technique spoke of strict discipline, but lacked a sense of calmness. As regards effect, there was not only much charm in it, but equal merit. Whatever alapana she developed and the way she sang kritis bore the stamp of her personal predilection. It failed to connect the inter-relationship between music and mellowness.
The choice of songs was good – ‘Bhuvini Daasudane’ (Sriranjani), ‘Neevada Ne Gana’ (Saranga), ‘Chinna Naata’ (Kalavathy) and ‘Emani Maatlaaditivo’ (Thodi) to mention a few. She included an unfamiliar kirtana in Sankarabharanam ‘Sambho Siva’ that failed to create an impact. These normally should have been elevating but fell short because she failed to bring out the core emotional bhava. She took too many liberties with her voice and in the process over reached aesthetic limits. The chattering clusters of kalpanaswaras do not go well with the Bahulapanchami spirit.
The violin accompanist was B. Ananth Krishnan. In his solo versions of the ragas his play was quite competent, but compactness would have given a better chit. His musical idioms emerged with clarity and pointedness.
It was the mridangam player, B. Sivaraman, who fully enjoyed the punching technique of Baby Sriram. His support was percussive erudition, his fingers being averse to gentle touch.