An overview of the “Pongal Thiru Vizha” festival, which saw concerts by Chennai-based vocalists Ranjani-Gayatri and Saswati Prabhu.
It was an all-Tamil composition concert by Chennai-based siblings Ranjani and Gayatri. As they were winding up their concert, they sought permission to sing a Marathi abhang of Sant Tukaram, owing to requests from music lovers. The abhang composed in a Hindustani raga was yet another item in the recital savoured by the music lovers, and they enjoyed every bit of it by clapping their hands in accordance with the rhythm, which had a telling effect in the auditorium. The thunderous applause at the end of this item seemed to suggest that music is a language in itself and gets communicated, no matter the language or the raga in which songs are composed.
Ranjani and Gayatri were performing at the auditorium of the Delhi Tamil Sangam last weekend under the aegis of Delhi Muththamizh Peravai on the second day of their two-day event titled “Pongal Thiru Vizha”. The duo started with an invocation and a Thiruppavai. In the concert of about two hours, Ranjani-Gayatri took up an Arutpa (poem of divine inspiration) of Ramalinga Adigalar, “Panniru kanmalar”, which has been tuned to music by their guru P.S. Narayanaswamy in raga Pantuvarali, and Papanasam Sivan’s “Kapali” in raga Mohanam for detailed rendition. While Ranjani presented a scintillating alapana of raga Pantuvarali, Gayatri’s alapana of raga Mohanam was brilliant. She seemed to be disturbed for quite some time during her alapana of the raga by the noise emanating from behind the stage. She had to stop in between and request for silence from that side of the stage. One felt that such sensitivities of the performing artistes should have been taken care of by the organisers on their own.
The improvisation techniques handled by the siblings in the former presentation, namely, the neraval of the phrase “Enniru kanmaniye en thaye” and the subsequent fast paced swaraprastharas, bore testimony to their depth in the creative aspects of music.
Another highlight of this recital was the presentation of verses from Kandar Anubudi and Kandar Alankaram in the form of ragamaliga viruthums in ragas Shanmukhapriya, Brindavana Saranga and Behag before singing “Muruganin maru peyar”. H.N. Bhaskar on violin and Kumbakonam N. Padmanabhan on mridangam provided good support in this concert.
On the first day of this festival, Chennai-based Saswati Prabhu’s Carnatic vocal recital was lacklustre. It was a short recital of about an hour or so. Saswati started off impressively with an adi tala varnam (raga Nalinakanthi) and an invocation on Ganesha (Dikshitar’s “Mahaganapatim” in raga Nata). Papanasam Sivan’s “Andavane” in raga Shanmukhapriya was the only song that came in for a somewhat detailed rendition and contained a good alapana of the raga and swaraprastharas that were indicative of her creative talents. However, the neraval was conspicuously absent in her entire recital. Instead of including five more songs, Saswati could have structured her concert in a better manner by taking up another composition for a detailed rendition and done some more justice to the creative aspects. VSK Chakrapani on violin, Udupi Harish on mridangam and Manikandan on thavil provided support to Saswati. One did not understand the need for the thavil support, which hardly made any impact even during taniavartanam.