Pantula Rama added vitality to the rare ragas that she rendered in her concert.

It was a concert by the husband and wife duo. Dr. Pantula Rama was accompanied on the violin by her husband M.S.N. Murthy. That proved to be a mighty musical combination especially in the rare ragas that she took up for detailed elaboration, viz., Dhenuka, Garudadhwani and Kanthamani.

Our forefathers found that each raga is a distinct musical entity by itself and has well-defined characteristics. They are solid musical facts. This was clearly evident when Dr. Pantula Rama handled a raga. In the ragas that she chose for this concert, there were not many compositions; yet she succeeded in giving them a form and vitality too. It requires immense skill, technical capacity, creative faculty of a high order and detailed knowledge of the lakshanas of ragas to effortlessly elucidate them. All the three alapanas had an unusual beginning. They had several dynamic phrases too. And yet, there was not a single repetition of an alpa or kvachit prayoga!

In ‘Theliyaleru Rama’ (Dhenuka) of Tyagaraja, the modulation in the kalpanaswaras was sweet. After the alapana in Garudadhwani, she commenced the kriti, ‘Thathvameruga Tharama’ (Rupakam) from the anupallavi. This composition also had fine kalpanaswaras.

In Kanthamani, she offered a delectable RTP. The alapana was expansive and thanam, short and sweet. The pallavi, ‘Neeye Gathi Sri Kantha Mani’ was in Khanda jati Triputai. She rendered it in three speeds and Tisram. Pallavi had a short ragamalika with Nalinakanti and Rasali added on.

The highlight of the concert was Tyagaraja’s immortal Sahana composition, ‘Giripai,’ an MDR favourite. After a leisurely alapana, Pantula Rama prefixed a Mukundamala sloka. The Pallavi had 18 sangatis, each bringing out the devotional mood of the kriti. The swaras were at the charanam, ‘Pulakangithudai.’ Perhaps to sustain the pensive atmosphere, she chose to render all kalpanaswaras in the first kala.

She commenced her vibrant concert with the Vasantha Varnam. Her’s is a briga-laden saareeram and that gives an extra sweetness to her renderings. After a brief sketch of Kalyani, she offered Dikshitar’s ‘Ganapathe Mahapathe’ in Rupakam. The kalpanaswaras were at ‘Himadri Suta Moda,’ the madhyamakala sahitya. ‘Govardhana Giridhari,’ the tarangam in Darbari Kanada was sweet.

M.S.N. Murthy’s violin has an extra-ordinary resonance. His delineation of the four ragas was of high quality. In his Sahana alapana, an Ubhaya Vakra raga, created a distinct mood. Similarly in the kalpanaswaras in Kanthamani, he offered several rare phrases effortlessly.

J. Vaidyanathan, the wizard of rhythm, lent excellent support to the concert enriching it all the while. Besides total mastery in laya, he has an uncanny anticipation, an asset to any mridangam artist. His concluding korvai in the thani after RTP received spontaneous applause. On the ganjira, K.V. Gopalakrishnan is an expert artist and an asset to any recital. He knows when to remain subdued and when to open up.

ramakrishnan.h@gmail.com