Hindustani Pt. Venktesh Kumar enthralled his rasikas with refreshing selection of raags.

Poornathvam, explained at best in English, is completeness. And those present at the Hindustani vocal recital of Pandit Venkatesh Kumar must have experienced Poornathvam in his music. Singing on the second day of Carnatica and Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha’s Bharat Sangeet Utsav, at Swami Gnanananda Hall, Alwarpet, Pt. Venkatesh Kumar, a disciple of Dr. Puttaraja Gawai of Veereshwara Punyashrama, Gadag, enthralled the rasikas with his authentic music. Normally at a Hindustani concert in the city, ragas such as Hamsadhwani, Yaman and Bhageshri, to name a few, are oft repeated on the pretext of rasikas mental comfort and making them feel at home. Thankfully that evening the selections were refreshing with ragas that one seldom would get to hear in a Hindustani concert here.

Perfect sruti alignment

Pt. Venkatesh Kumar scored full in his sruti alignment. Right from the beginning this was one aspect that kept the rasikas in tune with him. The magic patterns he wove around the tivra madhyam in Raag Multani (Todi thaat) were saintly. This was followed by improvisations around the panchamam and daivatham. His pitch at ‘E Flat’ (two and a half) enhanced the clarity of his presentation and it was very much masculine. After an interesting swara segment he shifted to the drut (fast speed) first in ek Taal and then in teen Taal. He was at ease while rendering the swaras. His akaara prayogas at break neck speed were crystal clear and he had absolute control over them. That he could reach as far as the second octave (taar saptak) tivra madhyam (note A) and also stay there for a lengthy sanchara only showed his riyaaz. It would have been a good learning experience for many a young and up-and-coming musician on judicious use of mike. Never did he sound jarring at points where he geared his voice to full throttle particularly in the top octave. During such moments he cleverly moved away to the sides yet maintained the impact. Yet another noteworthy point about Venkatesh Kumar’s presentation was his poise on stage. Postures do have an impact on

the performance. Sans any slouch even for brief moments of relaxation Pt. Venkatesh Kumar sat erect throughout, again a lesson for young musicians. He commenced the next raga on Shuddha Rishabh and slowly traversed to Komal Nishadh through the aadhaara Shadjam.

If Multani was like bathing in a water falls, Bhimpalasi (Kafi Thaat) was like getting drenched in a mild evening drizzle. A bandish ‘Ab To Badi Dher Bhayi’ (vilambit-tiluwada) found him interpreting the raga with rhythm. The tenuous phrases came cascading. Harmonium player Ajay Joglekar was like Kumar’s shadow and so was Ravindra Yavagal (tabla). The trio’s understanding enhanced the concert.

His jantai prayogas in the swaras were gripping. A khayal in the same raga ‘Biraj me dhoom machaye Shyam’ (drut – teen taal) with akara phrases swinging back and forth was an exhilarating experience.

Sohini was the third raga of the evening in Madhya laya teen taal followed by a taraana (drut). When one thought the concert was over after the brilliant Sohini, there were requests from rasikas for a devarnama. It was quite a new experience listening to a devarnama in Hindustani style. Kumar chose raag Mishra Kirvani and cast a spell over the rasikas. The Kanaka dasa kriti ‘Thoredu Jeevisha Bahulay Hari Ninna Charanagala’ initially was presented akin to the Carnatic viruttam before tabla player joined him. He packed it with emotion. Ajay Joglekar now and then played apt chords apart from following the song which lifted it to a greater height. The fastidious Chennai audience were simply mesmerised to that extent that they forgot there was a concert to follow, as they did not want him stop. The thunderous standing ovation close to about 30 seconds was proof enough of their two-hour musical experience.