Ayamkudi Mani's ‘eka raga concert' highlighted the aesthetics of Thodi raga.
Ayamkudi Mani, a seasoned Carnatic vocalist, sang from his heart in his bold voice. Hanuma Thodi, the eighth Melakartha raga was a favourite with the late Carnatic vocalist Neyyatinkara Mohanachandran. So it was befitting that Mani decided to sing kritis in raga Thodi in a concert organised in memory of the late maestro.
Classic swara portion
This experiment of an ‘eka raga concert' was perhaps the first of its kind, and it proved to be a new experience for music buffs in the capital city. The concert began in full swing with an introductory virutham followed by a varnam (composed by Pattanam Subramaniam), ‘Eranapai.' The swara-studded varnam painted a beautiful Thodi, and gave a perfect start to the recital. The following kriti ‘Gajavadana,' had a classic swara portion that exuded the essence of Thodi.
The Swati Tirunal composition ‘Sarasijanabha,' set to Misra Chapu tala, was eloquent, mainly in the anupallavi that was adorned with spontaneous flourishes by the singer. Muttara B.N. Raveendran on the violin complemented the vocalist during the rich niravel at ‘Murapahita.'
The various thishra and khanda nada by Nanjil Arul on the mridangam was noteworthy. Yet another Swati Tirunal kriti, ‘Bharathi Mamava Kripaya Devi' (the Navarathri kriti sung on the fourth day of Navarathri Sangeethotsavam), had a well-arranged swarajathi portion.
The colours of Thodi were vivid and myriad as Thodi phrases blossomed during the raga visthara. The singer showcased his skill by singing flawless complex sangathis, soaked in the aesthetic flavour of Thodi. The kriti ‘Shri Swati,' set to two-kala Adi, was in praise of Lord Padmanabha. The repetition of phrases in thishra nada in all the three kalams, testified to the composer's interest in experimenting with quantisation. The improvised swara section expanded itself mathematically resulting in a grand finish.
The Tani by Najil Arul and Vazhappally Krishnakumar (ghatam) was short and sweet. The singer wound up the concert with an Utsava prabandam keerthanam by Swati Tirunal – ‘Pankajaksha,' set to Roopaka tala.
The concert was organised by Navarasam Sangeetha Sabha in connection with its award ceremony. The sabha's ‘Neyyattinkara M.K. Mohanachandran Award,' was given to mridangam artiste R. Vaidyanathan.