On Sunday at 4.15 p.m., the Music Academy auditorium was packed to capacity. Rasikas were on the tip toe of expectations to listen to Ranjani and Gayathri, the stars that evening. B.U. Ganesh Prasad, Manoj Siva and Guru Prasad were the accompanists on the violin, mridangam and ghatam respectively.
The highly talented duo began the concert with the Kedaragowlai varnam in Adi talam of Tiruvottiyur Thiagayyar followed by ‘Marakatha Lingam’ in Vasantha, Adi talam of Muthuswami Dikshitar with a few rounds of kalpanaswaras which set the concert on the right keel.
The kriti for the crisp Arabhi raga alapana by Ranjani was ‘O Rajeevaksha’ of Tyagaraja in Misra Chapu Tala with an appropriate quantum of kalpanaswaras. Gayathri launched into Kharaharapriya alapana next. Semmangudi, the Karaharapriya ‘master’, seems to have inspired the artist greatly as the raga was an outstanding presentation, culling out all ‘pidis’ leaving nothing to imagination, and thus the raga was scintillating and satiating to the rasikas. The composition was ‘Sendhil Andavan’, the Rupaka Talam piece of Papanasam Sivan. The niraval and kalpanaswaras were at ‘Vadivelan’ in the charanam which the sisters shared admirably.
Before taking up RagamTanam Pallavi, a Subhapanthuvarali composition of G.N. Balasubramaniam in Adi Talam was presented at a medium pace. The pallavi was a ‘triragam’ (3) creation in Saraswati, Lalitha and Durga set in Khanda Jati Ata Talam. The sahitya matching the ragas was ‘Saraswathi Veena Pusthaka Dharini Harivakshasthalalaye.’Ranjani and Gayathri shared the alapana in the three ragas. When the delineation of the Raga Durga was on by Gayathri, the audience wondered whether they were listening to a Carnatic concert or a Hindustani one. For Durga is a North Indian raga. Gayatri’s essay was in a ustad style and the rasikas were moved. The pallavi was deftly handled. The transition from one raga to another was always a smooth slide especially in the fast pace. Their expertise was much to the fore when handling every aspect of the Pallavi, Trikalam niraval and kalpanaswaras. Ganesh Prasad matched their effort.
In contrast to the present day practice of relegating the pallavi to a mere 15-minutes ritual, Ranjani and Gayathri started the RTP when there was still an hour to go and so, it gave them ample time to do full justice. The women deserve special mention for the way the managed time.
In the percussion solo after the pallavi and also while accompanying on the mridangam, Manoj Siva was outstanding. The ghatam vidwan Guru Prasad also paired well with him.
A Ragamalika Virutham with Reethigowlai, Saveri and Behag and as a continuation of Behag, ‘Adum Chidambaramo’ of Gopalakrishna Bharati was the penultimate piece of the concert. An abhang in Jhenjuti with the opening words ‘Rama Nama’ brought the kutcheri to an end.
The duo has perfected the art of complimenting and supplementing each other throughout the concert. Their music will remain in rasikas’ memories for days to come.