The two audio compact discs released with the divine blessings of Sri Kandukuri Sivananda Murthy have intricate and manodharma dominated music of a high quality offered by Pantula Rama. She has made her music reach out to the connoisseur's and she has come to be recognised as a Pallavi specialist. Her more or less permanent accompanists M.S.N. Murthy (violin) and V.V. Ramanamurthy (mridangam) provide their services for these discs admirably.
'Sri Vighnarajam' (Gambira Nattai-Oothukkadu Venkata Subba Iyer) in Khanda gathi is a good choice as the opening number. The sahitya enunciation is clear. Pantula Rama's voice is ideally suited for Carnatic music and has uniform ‘azhutham’ in the Madhya, Tara and Mandra sthayis. The brigas are also executed with finesse.
A vivadi raga, Chandrajyothi is essayed which is slightly lengthy. A briefer version would have created a better impact. Tyagaraja's ‘Sasivadana’ on Lord Siva is a spirited rendering followed by kalpanaswaras for the pallavi. The violinist responds with ease to the swara bouts.
Madhyama sruthi based ragas were generally not taken up by the past masters for Ragam, Tanam and Pallavi suites as their scope for vinyasa is limited. The ragas would mostly be one amongst Thodi, Sankarabharanam, Kalyani, Khambhodi, Bhairavi or Kharaharapriya. Shanmukhapriya found place as a pallavi raga later on. Other rakti ragas such as Saveri, Nattakurinji, Sriranjani and
Madhyamavati would be sparingly taken up for pallavi renditions.
Pantula Rama springs a surprise by choosing Chenchuruti (Janjhuti) for the pallavi. The alapana is nevertheless very good and is handled very convincingly. The vocalist's gnanam is evident as prayogas of Kurinji and Navroz are judiciously eschewed in the vinyasa. The tanam is gone through
more as a formality. The singer is very impressive in her handling of the pallavi which is set to Adi tala two kalais and commences on the beat (samam). The base structure of the sahitya ‘Marakatha Mani Nibha Deha Mamava Sada – Janakipathe’ covers three speeds. The niraval and trikalam exercise are flawless and is reflective of the homework done. The credit for composing the pallavi, as per the inlay card, goes to M.S.N. Murthy, the violinist. His accompaniment for the pallavi enthuse Rama to give her best. The kalpanaswaras sung at different points make mature music. The thani avartanam by V.V. Ramanamurthy is to the point and subdued without being noisy.
A padyam from the opera 'Prahlada Bhakthi Vijayam’ in Kapi is followed by ‘Pahi Kalyanarama’ in the same raga and brings the disc to a good finish.
The second disc titled ‘Manipravalam’ covers compositions in Kannada, Tamizh, Telugu
and Malayalam. Purandaradasa’s Atana devarnama ‘Sakala Graha’ is sung with all the charanams which is rare to hear. A brief exposition of Kedaragowla is gamaka rich and moves on to Ramaswamy Sivan's ‘Natanam Seyyum.’ This song seems to be one of the vocalist's favourite Tamizh compositions and this scribe has listened to her frequent rendition of this song in her Chennai concerts.
Pantula Rama's Kalyani vinyasa is powerful and majestic in a unhurried manner. The rare kriti of Tyagaraja ‘Karu Velpulu’ with its plethora of sangatis is sung gracefully. The swaraprastharas for this song however falls slightly short of Rama's musical standard.
A haunting sketch of Dwijavanti leads on to Swati Tirunal's ‘Tharuni Nyan’ and is leisurely vocalised befitting the nature of the lyrics.