Sankaran Namboothiri demonstrated remarkable reverence for tradition
The Horizon Programme Series of the ICCR, Bangalore, featured a thematic Bharathanatya recital titled Nrithya Shankara by Dr. K.S. Pavitra at Yavanika in Bangalore. The performance, devoted to the life and works of Adi Shankaracharya, began with a Pushpanjali executed with restraint and elegance, deftly introducing the subject through a sloka at the end. The first half of the recital narrated the circumstances of Shankara’s birth and the joy of his parents, his precociousness, the incidents leading up to the spontaneous creation of the “Kanakadhara Stotram”, and the changing of the river Poorna’s course. While obtaining his his mother’s concurrence for sanyasa was a poignant episode and portrayed succinctly and effectively, testifying to a pronounced flair for abhinaya, Shankara’s quest for a guru was also delineated in dramatic fashion.
The latter half of the programme included visual representations of extracts from “Ganeshapancharatnam”, “Shivanandalahari”, “Mohamudgara” and verses paying obeisance to Surya. The segment found the artiste dancing to some exquisite choreography punctuated with pure dance passages, supplemented with evocative emoting, and sustained and elevated by the majestic cadence of Shankara’s hymns couched in metres with intrinsic rhythmic connotations. Lyrics by A.G. Gopalakrishna Kolthaya, Kuvempu and Bhashyam Swamiji provided the text for the rest of the performance. The orchestral ensemble headed by the artiste’s guru Vasundhara Doraswami (nattuvanga), and comprising Vasudha (vocal), Mahesh (flute), and Janardhan (mridanga), provided outstanding support to the performance, which offered glimpses into the philosophy, teachings and contributions of one of the cardinal figures in the evolution of the nation’s spiritual history.
M.K. Sankaran Namboothiri, accompanied by H.N. Bhaskar (violin), M.T. Rajakesari (mridanga), and N.Amruth (kanjira) presented a vocal concert at the Nadaranjani Sangeetha Sabha. The artiste’s reverence for tradition, reinforced by a resonant and pliable voice, was explicit in the very first item, “Vinayaka Ninnuvina” in Hamsadhwani raga and adi thala, embellished with a few well structured kalpana swaras, and in the following krithi, Purandaradasa’s “Palisamma” in Abhogi, set to adi thala, thisra gathi. The rendition of “Varamaruluka Maye” in Ranjani raga, accentuated by clear pronunciation, imbued each appellation of Devi with lustrous bhava and devotion. The alapana of Kedaragoula, which followed, incorporated both weighty gamakas and smooth gliding sancharas chatacteristic of the raga, and the kalpana swaras appended to the Shyama Shastri’s “Parakela” in adi thala featured a few unobtrusive rhythmic combinations.
“Pannagashayana” in Madhyamavathi, a Deekshithar composition, was succeeded by a mellifluous expansion of Kharaharapriya, with a plethora of phrases around the panchama and the thara sthayi shadja, a detailed treatment of the notes above, progressing right up to the nishada, and touching a lucid mandra sthayi panchama during the descent, attesting to remarkable range and flexibility of voice. Thyagaraja’s “Vidamuseyave” in adi thala was rendered with a nuanced neraval at “Rajarajavara” exploiting the melodic and rhythmic possibilities inherent in the arrangement of the syllables, and a cascade of laya oriented kalpana swaras augmented by brilliant support from the violinist and the percussionists. “Rinamadanutha” in Behag and a tillana in Khamas were among the concluding items of the concert.