Manda Sudharani’s exquisite pallavis have their own unique flavour, richness and range. On this day, this genre happening in Hamsanandhi was bundled with variety to boot. The pallavi line ‘Sadha Ni Smarane Gathi Saama Gaana Modhini’ had scope aplenty for swarakshara formulations. ‘Sa’ ‘Dha’ ‘Ni’ ‘Ma’ were construed as both swara and sahitya syllables liberally, showing an incisive mind and great agility. One was given to understand that this pallavi could be classified in the ‘Soochitha Swarakshara Pallavi’ mould. (‘Soochitha’ here means indicative). In addition to all these exercises, it had an interesting ‘graha bedham’ when it traversed gently, not transgressed, towards Hindolam. The pallavi was set in Tisra Jati Triputa talam.

Another notable achievement of Sudharani was the rendering of maestro Balamurali Krishna’s composition in Sucharithra (67 in the Melakarta scale). The first line reads: ‘Chinthayamam Santhatham Sri Muthuswami Dikshitham’: this must have been made by the veteran as a tribute to Dikshitar and was set in Misra Jhampai. This raga essay by Sudharani reflected her proficiency in handling such odd scales. The familiar kriti in this raga is ‘Velum Mayilume’ by Koteeswara Iyer.

There came a stunning beginning for the Sankarabharanam (‘Akshaya Linga Vibho,’ Dikshitar) alapana that blossomed right away at the top octave and gradually descended to occupy the other octaves.

The other three Tyagaraja kritis sung were ‘Narasimha Maamava’ (Arabhi), ‘Seethapathe’ (Khamas) and ‘Raminchuvarevarura’ (Suposhini). The second song had single avarthana swaras that were both illustrative and exhaustive and were sung with exceptional verve. It was thoughtful of Sudharani to have sung the Suposhini kriti juxtaposing ‘Ninuvina’ to occur before ‘Raminchuvarevarura’ (meaning – except you, who else can protect me) repeatedly. Singing in your mother tongue has its own advantages: less of damage and more of meaningful beautification.

Anuradha Sridhar on the violin showed a cool restrained approach during the raga alapanas of Sucharithra and Hamsanandhi that never lacked the bhava element and answered the swara calls with unflagging accuracy.

The laya twosome of Tumkur Ravishankar (mridangam) and Malaikottai Deenadayalu (morsing) seemed a formidable combination as they made the pallavi their ‘own,’ following it closely and cautiously and approached the other areas, such as song niravals and swaraprastarams with considerable awe. Their thani had many thrilling moments for laya pundits.

(sivakumar2004@gmail.com)