The distinctive phrases of Khambodi reached one even before entering the Parthasarathy Temple at Tiruvallikeni. The sancharas became more forceful on stepping into the temple’s corridors and it was gratifying to see a quite a sizeable crowd listening with rapt attention to the vocal concert of Mambalam Sisters at the Vidayatri Utsavam.

Chitra was traversing the stately path of Khambodi with diligence and full throated articulation. After V.V. Ravi’s response on the violin, the siblings chose ‘Yelara Krishna,’ a lesser heard Tyagaraja composition.

The kriti carried all the significant touches of Khambodi and the sisters set niraval and swaras on ‘Naga Sayana.’

Next came ‘Parthasarathiyai,’ composed by veteran musician Suguna Purushothaman. It would have raised many eyebrows initially as the raga seemed slightly elusive as it oscillated between shades of Kharaharapriya and Mukhari. However, Vijayalakshmi clarified and stated that it was Salaka Bhairavi.

After the famous Tiruppavai ‘Aazhi Mazhai Kanna’ in Varali, Vijayalakshmi chose to present Bhairavi. It has to be mentioned here that the Sisters never opt for a frivolous or exuberant approach to music. They believe in strict adherence to tradition. Therefore, Bhairavi was substantial in its archaic flavour. Dikshitar’s ‘Bala Gopala’ and the mandatory niraval and swaras on ‘Neela Neerada’ were taken up. There was nothing exciting but at the same nothing to complain; there was sincerity and assiduousness in the presentation.

The musical passages were mirrored in V.V. Ravi’s violin without any extra pep. Nellai A. Balaji on the mridangam and K.S. Rangachari on the ganjira took care of the rhythmic side in their own style.