Bhavani Prasad’s forte is his nimble fingers and their agility on the frets. Breathtaking gamakas and electrifying touches come to him with commendable ease and élan. For a young, up and coming artist like Bhavani Prasad a word of advice - speed kills the beauty of the concert and it was evident at certain crucial junctures. Musical wizardry is different from musical wisdom.
YACM (Youth Association for Classical Music) included an endearing veena concert by Bhavani Prasad with N.C. Bharadwaj (mridangam) and Harihara Sharma (ganjira) in their 24th anniversary celebrations.
Bhavani Prasad’s forte is his nimble fingers and their agility on the frets. Breathtaking gamakas and electrifying touches come to him with commendable ease and élan.
Initiating the concert with a fast track Gambhira Nattai composition of Balamuralikrishna, Bhavani Prasad was constantly galvanising to keep the mood of the programme buoyant. So there was a chain of kritis followed almost at break neck speed — ‘Giriraja Sudha’ (Bangala), ‘Guruleka Etuvanti’ (Gowrimanohari), ‘Kanjadalayadakshi’ (Kamala Manohari) and ‘Anandamruta’ (Amritavarshini) — until Prasad settled for a very brief alapana of ‘Ganamurthi’ to be appended by ‘Ganamurthe.’
The kalpanaswaras here and in some of the earlier numbers were added apparently to infuse more force to the tempo.
The ‘Ganamurthe’ essay was more like a jigsaw puzzle because the raga’s picture was a bit hazy. Essaying such mela ragas needs special insight into the raga image.
After ‘Enta Muddo’ in Bindumalini in a stylishly reposeful manner, an exhilarating ‘Raghuvamsa Sudha’ in Kathanakuthoohalam and a dynamic ‘Telisirama’ in Purnachandrika, Bhavani Prasad opted for a significant treatise of Kalyani. One could see the performer’s vision in building the raga in a proper way here only.
Kalyani’s melody and vivaciousness were explicitly brought forth in the development of the raga. ‘Nidhi Chala Sukhama’ of Tyagaraja travelled on the right speed coupled with fortitude.
The niraval on the famous point ‘Mamatha Bandana’ was neatly fashioned and the swaras that followed had the right impact.
But once again the craze for race seized the young performer resulting in reeling out an endless train of swaras in ragamalika which was absolutely superfluous.
For a young, up and coming artist like Bhavani Prasad a word of advice - speed kills the beauty of the concert and it was evident at certain crucial junctures. Musical wizardry is different from musical wisdom. For a divine instrument like veena, where the advantages are many for creating an ethereal atmosphere when one is blessed with a complete control on the instrument, it is preposterous to exploit the expertise in over indulgence and callous acceleration.
Bhavani Prasad has the potential to blossom into a competent and soulful performer which should not be missed in his overzealous gymnastics.
Although young, Bharadwaj and Harihara Sharma used the opportunity to their full advantage in a programme driven mainly by speed.
A couple of questions before conclusion; It is becoming rare to find the traditional veena in the hands of the new generation of players. Why? The morphed version, except the thandi and a couple of desolate pots, disturbs the sensibilities of a veena rasika like me.
Next, why were there no young members in the audience although it was a performance organised by YACM, leaving the auditorium to more grey heads and mostly empty chairs?