Wind Song was as much a display of Bombay Jayashri and Ronu Majumdar’s artistic prowess as of their friendship

“This is a nostalgic jugalbandi for us,” said Pandit Ronu Majumdar before he picked up his flute and spun magic with the swaras. His musical partner for the evening, Bombay Jayashri, smiled in agreement.

Wind Song, the inaugural concert of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest in Coimbatore, featured the legendary Hindustani flautist and his childhood friend, acclaimed Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri. They started off with an invocation to Ganesha — Vaatapi Ganapathim — in raga Hamsadhwani. During the elaborate alapana, the singer and the flautist carried on a conversation of their own. Ronu’s flute, at times, was a gentle whisper. And, at others, he coaxed it to touch amazing highs.

You have to listen to Jayashri with your eyes closed. That’s when her music and the devotion in her voice washes over you, uninterrupted by other influences.

The second piece was the Dhrupad-style Neerajakshi Kaamakshi. They explored Malkauns (Hindustani) and its Carnatic equivalent Hindolam. For the next number, they chose raag Amritavarshini, to commemorate the aradhana of Muthuswamy Dikshitar, one of the Trinity. “I love his composition in this raga. In Hindustani, it was Pannalal Ghosh who popularised this, especially for the bansuri,” Ronu said. Soon, Jayashri unleashed a torrent of swaras and Ronu kept pace at every step. He changed his flutes to suit the different moods of the ragas. Anandaamruta Karshini Amrithavarshini, slow and meditative at times and brisk at others, left you asking for more.

Ronu and Jayashri shared an easy chemistry on stage, a throwback to their shared childhood. They encouraged each other and were generous in their appreciation for each other.

The tani avartanam that followed was a beat-filled affair that had everyone appreciating the percussion duel on stage.

Sumesh S. Narayanan on the mridangam and Ajeet Pathak on the tabla displayed their individual flair, responded to the challenges they threw at each other and finally came together in a crescendo. If Sumesh exemplified the exuberance of youth (he’s just 20!), his face a canvas of emotions (he hails from a family of Kathakali artists and musicians), Ajeet was a portrait of quiet confidence that comes with age.  

Ronu then asked if the audience would like to listen to one more rendition, and was instantly rewarded with a resounding “yes”. He requested his friend to sing his favourite, Krishna Nee Begane Baro. And, Jayashri obliged. Ronu happily allowed her to take centrestage and ensured his flute was just a companion to her soulful rendition of this Vyaasaraaya composition.

Jayashri sang out with so much devotion and Ronu played his favourite instrument — how could Krishna not respond?