Given her age, Alamelu Mani has to be lauded for her zest with which she rendered the kritis.
With a neat Purvikalyani and a Thodi, Alamelu Mani showed where Hariharan, the celebrated ghazal and playback singer— her son — got his music from. Alamelu demonstrated how age cannot wither nor custom stale a music born out of passion. Yes, the voice was low and lacked weight, but the music was rich in manodharma — imagination — which is the quintessential aspect of Carnatic music.
At Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Beginning her concert with Sivan’s Sowrashtram piece, ‘Sri Ganapatim,’ which she sang well, Alamelu quickly moved on to the first major piece of the concert, the Purvikalyani. The alapana began with a bold ‘ga’ and snaked up and down the ladder of notes in a disciplined gait. It was a neat and leisurely alapana at the end of which came the Nilakantan Sivan’s immortal piece, ‘Ananda Natamaaduvar Thillai.’
This was followed by Dikshitar’s ‘Chetah Sri Balakrishnam’ in Dwijavanti. Here some strain showed in the voice, but on overall rendition was enjoyable.
Then came the Thodi alapana, which was a briga-rich and a wholesome offer. Here mention must be made of Mullaivasal Chandramouli’s essay of the raga on the violin — it was just brilliant. Chandramouli, a disciple of V.V. Subramanian, is fast turning out to be one of the finest violinists of the current times. Syama Sastri’s ‘Ninne Namminanura’ followed the alapana and the rendition was complete with niraval and swaras. One must salute the old lady’s dedication to the art and the enthusiasm with which she performed. B. Sivaraman on the mridangam and Papanasanam Sethuraman on the ganjira supported the vocalist.