Enjoyable musical, panagam and sundal - it was a treat in every way.

On the eve of Sri Rama Navami, Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha Trust featured a musical ‘Sri Rama Charithra Geetham’ wherein kritis in praise of Lord Rama were presented by musician and musicologist Radha Bhaskar and group. Solo singing facilitates a singer to interpret the immortal compositions emotionally at his/her level best whereas group singing has its own dynamics with resultant positivity. Cohesive singing does impact the rasikas what with voices of different timbre joining together in the rendition. It was with such an expectation this writer attended Radha Bhaskar’s concert at the Ragasudha Hall. Radha was accompanied by Vasudha Keshav and Aishwarya Shankar. Except for the first and last song, all others were solos. Nevertheless it was enjoyable.

As requested by the Trust, Radha offered a brief explanation of every kriti. She did not push it too much lest it should sound like a demonstration/katha kalakshepam. The beauty of Carnatic compositions is that they offer an exhilarating experience even if the listener does not know the meaning. That is why it is called classical music. Tyagaraja’s ‘Jagadanandakaraka’ was an energetic presentation that set the tone for the rest of the evening with sruti alignment on 180 degrees. Aiswarya Shankar’s Sanskrit virutham in Sriranjani showcased her grooming on a pure classical mode that was followed by Tyagaraja’s ‘Brochevarevare.’ Radha Bhaskar’s crsytal clear voice helped her negotiate this Sriranjani raga kirtana with ease. The seventh charanam ‘Vaali Nokka’ touches the madhyam (tara sthayi) and Radha’s landing on it was perfect.

Vasudha Keshav, endowed with a husky voice, presented the Khambodi raga alapana fraught with bhavam. Anaiyampatti Venkatasubramaniam’s reply was neat. In ‘Maa Janaki,’ a madhyama kala kriti, Tyagaraja gives a subtle explanation for ‘Sriyahpati,’ one of the thousand names of Vishnu. Throughout the kriti a subtle sarcasm is seamlessly present where Tyagaraja states that ‘Sri’ or Goddess Mahalakshmi could have easily killed Ravana with her very looks, yet she remained silent for she wanted Lord Rama to vanquish him to prove that he is the Lord of Kings. Vasudha’s rendering was followed by a brisk exchange of meaningful swaras among the three with Anaiyampatti joining in. A worthy disciple of Thanjavur Kumar, Thillaisthanam Suriyanarayanan’s mature playing proved that he is ready for the bigger league. A delectable Hamsanadam raga essay and Oothukadu’s ‘Kalyana Rama’ by Radha was soul satisfying. Listening to Vasudha’s exposition of the Mukhari raga for the kriti ‘Entha Ninne’ (Tyagaraja) gave only an ecstatic feeling much against the general belief that the raga is used for expressing a gloomy mood.

Aishwarya Shankar is showing signs of promise with her singing. Her Kharaharapriya was laid with classical phrases. Notwithstanding the fact that Vasudha’s interpretation of the kriti was apt, this writer felt Tyagaraja’s ‘Rama Nee Samaanamevaru’ should have been rendered by the group in unison. Interesting improvisations of the pallavi lines by the threesome led to a well planned thani by Thillaisthanam Suriyanarayanan. Kritis on Lord Rama by composers such as Arunachala Kavirayar, Tulasidas, Purandaradasar, Papanasam Sivan and Dikshitar were also presented with bhakti bhavam as the objective.

Delicious panagam and sundal were distributed on the occasion after the mahadeeparadhana; yet another thoughtful gesture by Sarvani.