R.K. Srikantan is a force to reckon with even today.
His grand, reverberant, yet mellifluous voice belies his age. He is in total control of sruthi and laya, and he doesn’t fumble over sahitya either. This 92-year ‘youngster’ is verily a musician’s musician as well as a popular artist.
R.K. Srikantan’s leisurely and expansive Thodi bears testimony to his proficiency and potential in his chosen field, acquired through rigorous practice. He could do anything with his voice. Even in fast sangatis, the raga bhava was dominant.
Though he hails from Karnataka, there is a distinct Thanjavur bani in his rendering. May be because he was born (in Hassan District) on the banks of the Cauvery!
After a while, his son and disciple Ramakanth took over the alapana, and he too displayed extraordinary depth and variety. The veteran Dr. M. Chandrasekaran’s elucidation demonstrated his original touches. He is an asset to a concert.
One of the masterpieces of Tyagaraja, ‘Kaddanuvariki,’ was the chosen kriti, whose original structure and texture was brought out with feeling.
The three artists wove a precious musical tapestry. The concluding kuraippu by Ramakanth was charming.
The thani by Srimushnam Raj Rao (mridangam) and Coimbatore Mohanram (ghatam) was a veritable treat to discerning ears. The tisram was aesthetically superb.
Though Thodi was the piece de resistance, Srikantan’s elaborate Sarasangi alapana was the highlight of the evening. He did it with authority and precision. Even after Chandrasekaran offered a lovely delineation, Srikantan resumed it, evidently to add further shades and hues. Swati Tirunal’s ‘Jaya Jaya Padmanabha’ was a special delight. Swaras were at the pallavi.
Srikantan commenced the recital with the Nattai varnam followed by ‘Sri Maha Ganapathim’ (Atana) of Jayachamaraja Wodeyar with chittaswaras and kalpanaswaras. ‘Saraswathim Sri Yuvathim’ (Hindolam) of Dikshitar, ‘Anuragamu’ (Saraswathi) of Tyagaraja and ‘Neere Nee Karetaare’ of Punandaradasa were the other pieces offered.