Nisha Rajagopal could bring out the meditative aspect of the kritis.
Nisha Rajagopal’s concert blossomed with ‘Sasivadhana’ (Chandrajothi, Tyagaraja) that came at a gentle pace and possibly indicated what was in store. She followed it with ‘Nadha Sudharasam,’ the Arabhi kriti of Tyagaraja.
These two numbers could be contrasted with ‘Naama Kusuma’ (Sri Ragam, Dikshitar) which has a swagger, almost, in its rendering pace. Nisha could create the meditative atmosphere that is associated with this genre of songs.
Another Dikshitar kriti that captured one’s attention for its bhava was ‘Hiranmayim Lakshmim’ (Lalitha). The context of this song and Dikshitar’s encounter with ‘this worldly’ wealth and scant respect for it, is too well known to be documented here. This song had fine finishes at all closing points and laid stress on the sahitya and its stately provenance.
Nisha’s strength probably lies in the rendering of akara sangatis that was well deployed in her raga alapanas - for Khambodi (‘Evari Mata Vina’, Tyagaraja) and for Shanmukhapriya, which had an RTP. This strength was always used with considerable restraint; never overdone. There was an elaborate neraval at ‘Bhaktha Paraadhinudanuchu’ for the Khambodi song.
Every now and then, Nisha imparts a nasal slant to her voice that tends to rob partly the beauteous element in her singing.
If this has come to her quite naturally, (maestros who held their sway over audiences in spite of their nasally inclined voices is legion) she and we, the rasikas, have to learn to accept it as part of Nisha’s style. The question is: Is some corrective measure needed/possible? She would be the best judge.
Later ‘Bogeendra Sayeenam’ (Swati Tirunal, Kuntalavarali) came with a smooth transition at the charanam with the laya vidwans welcoming and preparing themselves adequately.
VVS Murari, the violinist, matched the singer in every area. His alapanas and swara swells bore the stamp of originality. His Khambodi alapana was built into an edifice brick by brick. All his crescendos were lively and yet smooth in their executions.
Trivandrum Balaji (mridangam) and Trikkakara Shantharam (ganjira) had many things to offer. They added immense value to the concert by sticking to an accompanying style that always sought to lay due focus on the songs. This became particularly noticeable during the rendering of the Sriragam and Lalitha kritis. Their thani was powered by a combination of caressing strokes and complex kanakku phrases that enlivened the proceedings.