A raga that is colourful, well-known and full of emotive appeal is Mukhari. This raga is often spoken of as a sorrowful raga (shoka rasa), but in reality it also exudes bhakthi rasa and shanta rasa effectively. Mukhari’s allied ragas include Huseni, Bhairavi, Salagabhairavi, Kokilavarali and Maanji. Mukhari has to be enunciated with very precise swara positions and gamakas in order to achieve propriety, to avoid meandering into neighbouring pastures. The notes in Mukhari include Sadja, Chatusruti Rishabha, Suddha Madhyama, Pancama, Chatusruti Dhaivata (ascent) and Suddha Dhaivata (descent), and Kaisiki Nishada. The Sadharana Gandhara appears in the avarohana and is absent in the ascent. The important phrases in Mukhari include ‘SRM G, RS’ where the emphasis is on the Madhyama, and ‘PDSR’ where the Rishabha is emphasised. It is a special raga, full of melodic possibilities.
In classical music, popular compositions of Tyagaraja include ‘Entaninne’, ‘Karubaru’, ‘Ksheenamai’, ‘Elavatara’, and ‘Sangeeta Sastra’. The composition ‘Muripemu’ is a rare jewel. ‘Pahimaam Ratchanachala’ is the best known kriti of Dikshitar in this raga. Subbaraya Sastri’s ‘Emani Ne’ is attractive and Neelakanta Sivan’s ‘Endraikku Siva Krupai’ is poignant in appeal. Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Sivakama Sundari’ and ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ are crispy portrayals of the raga. Kshetrayya’s padam ‘Ososi Namadi’ is a treat, and one recalls the remarkable rendition by the redoubtable Brinda-Mukta duo of this piece.
In film music, Mukhari compositions are few, but it would be a crime to ignore them as they are all of brilliant quality. The piece-de-resistance in Mukhari is of course ‘Vaada Malare’ from Ambikapathy. The opening sangati ‘PMGRS / RMPDP’ replete with light gamakas is most suited to this raga. In the line ‘Muzhu Nilave’, the swaras ‘NDSRM’ are neatly outlined in the madhyama sthayi, a highlight in the song. The glittering vocals of T.M. Soundararajan and Bhanumathy in G. Ramanathan’s music are a treat.
‘Kanavu Kanden Naan’ from Sivagangai Seemai is a lovely example of Mukhari in film music. The pallavi begins in a tune that is very similar to the traditional wedding song ‘Anandam Anandam’. It is the anupallavi that wholly brings out the Mukhari feel, especially in the line ‘Vaazhai Marangal Katta Kanavu Kanden’. The Nishada is beautifully oscillated and the short alaap that follows ‘MN, NDDRSNDP’ is fragrant in T.M. Soundararajan’s voice, in the music of M.S. Viswanathan-Ramamurthy.
‘Pogathe Pogathe En Kanava’ from Veerapandiya Kattabomman is a different approach to Mukhari, with a touch of folk. The phrase ‘SRM, GRS’ keeps coming up in this song, while the rest of the song is a meandering, melancholic Mukhari. It has the expressive vocals of A.G. Ratnamala in the music of G. Ramanathan.
‘Yaar Poyi Solluvar’ from Harischandra (music S. Rajeswara Rao) is an outstanding piece in Mukhari. The opening phrase ‘S, RND SRM’, clearly points to Mukhari. The sheer helplessness of Harischandra’s situation is sketched well with the help of Mukhari raga.
Raga Huseni is rare, and the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Rama Ninne Nammi’ and Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Kalahastisa’ pretty much sum up what it has to offer. A raga that can be sung in a higher pace compared to Mukhari, Huseni in film music is best heard in ‘Rajan Maharajan’ from the film Shyamala sung by M.K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar. In the phrase ‘Tiruvalar Thyagarajan’, the swaras ‘SNS PDP MPM GRS’ make Huseni come alive.