Percussionist Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar anddanseuse Rama Vaidyanathan enthralled the discerningaudience at Kerala Kalamandalam’s ‘Rangaharsham ‘12’.

On the sidelines of the inauguration of the South Indian Performing Arts Museum at Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, a three-day cultural fete billed as ‘Rangaharsham ‘12’ was hosted at the University’s Koothambalam.

Leading percussionist Mattannur Sankarankutty Marar presented a solo thayambaka in pathinja (andante) chamba kooru; his first solo after five years. As far as the chamba kooru is concerned, though the structure is similar to that of adantha kooru (which legends such as Pallavur Appu Marar, Thrithala Keasava Poduval, Pookkatiri Divakara Poduval and Kalamandalam Balaraman used to perform frequently), the performance of a thayambaka recital in pathinja chamba kooru is very rare. Mattannur dexterously invoked the mukham (introduction) of the pathikalam with impromptu strokes. Apart from convention, Mattannur made it precise for the four nadais – chaturasram, tisram, misram and khandam. He accurately culminated each one with apt muktharippus. Mattannur’s wrist movements and syncopations were interesting to watch. The patterns were laid with such finesse and lucidity, which might have been imbibed from his ambidextrous forays into other genres of percussion ensembles.

His uniqueness was exhibited in portraying the ennams – he interspersed these with half a cycle of beat, which is very tough to execute. After the ennams, the four bahucharis (improvisations) with the chapus and pothus of hand, were excellent, and the modulations and the glides of the stick, commendable. Mattannur’s musical inclination, which helped to make the rhythmic progressions more melodic, combined with the theatrical ambience of the Koothambalam, added lustre to the performance.

Acclaimed danseuse Rama Vaidyanathan’s Bharatanatyam recital also captured the attention of connoisseurs.

Rama took off with an alarippu christened as ‘Sannidhanam’. The alarippu celebrated the architecture of a Hindu temple, and was juxtaposed with a Beeja mantra that depicted the empowered goddess. Set to Adi tala, the lyrics were composed in ragamalika. As usual, her sculpturesque postures and dynamic movements were attractive. The varnam that Rama took up was that of the Tanjore Quartet, composed in Bhairavi and set to Roopaka (two kala). She depicted a nayika expressing her love for Lord Tyagaraja residing in Tiruvarur. The nayika yearns for physical and spiritual union with the Lord. The musicians’ exposition of the raga and the dancer’s interpretation of the natya’s principles were up to the mark.

Next was a composition of Purandaradasa composed in raga Kalyani, set to Adi tala. She portrayed a young gopi admonishing Krishna for playing his flute and disturbing her at midnight. When she realises that he is not listening to her pleas, finally she snatches the flute from him. Subtlety of expression was the highlight of this piece.

Purandaradasa’s composition was followed by a popular one of Tamil composer Papanasam Sivan – ‘Enna thavam seidaney’ in Adi tala, where the poet wonders what penance Yasodha had undergone to have the supreme Lord himself call her ‘Amma’.

Rama wounded up her recital with a tillana in the raga Varamu, Adi tala, followed by Sankaracharya’s ‘Ardhanareeswara ashtakam’, in which she described Siva and Parvathy as two parts of one identity.