Sudha Ragunathan’s concert was a good balance between what she has learnt from her guru MLV and how well she can present them with her own manodharma.
A modest start with Patnam Subramania Iyer’s Abhogi varnam ‘Evari Bodhana,’ left the rasikas guessing for the the line-up. Sudha followed it up with a Tiruppavai ‘Vaiyathu Vazhveerkal’ in Gowla for it was the second day of Margazhi. The subtle improvisations in rendering the pasuram, different from MLV’s popular recording, brought out her flair for presenting the songs with a touch of her own.
In ‘Unnai Allal,’ the Kalyani kriti of Papanasam Sivan, Sudha must have realised that the karvais in the lower octaves could not sustain long that day and kept the rendering in the mandara sthayi phrases to the minimum. The usual fizz in Sudha’s rendering was missing.
The brilliant swara presentation sparkled with the nadai variations, playing around the swaras ma, pa, dha and ni was a treat to the ears. M.R. Gopinath on the violin was equally matching with his quick responses to the swara patterns Sudha displayed.
An impressive alapana of Saveri gave a lilt to the concert and Dikshitar’s ‘Kari Kalabha Mukham’ sung with leisure highlighted the kriti’s beauty enormously.
Sudha presented ‘Marugelara’ in Marga Hindolam, one of the hallmark pieces of MLV, in fast pace and set the ground ready for the main item of the evening.
A delightful raga exposition of Sankarabharanam spilled the genius in Sudha in every phrase. She intelligently traversed through the middle octaves in the elaboration. A smart graha bedha, which a trained ear can make out clearly, displayed streaks of Kalyani raga and Sudha glided back into Sankarabharanam gracefully. She brought the sahitya bhava to the fore in ‘Manasu Swadheena’, of Tyagaraja in Misra Chapu.
Thani avarthanam by Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and R. Raman on the morsing had the characteristic vigour and virtuosity.
For the tukkada session, Sudha took up the Purandaradadasar devar nama ‘Yake Nirdayanadeyo’ and ‘Muralidhara Gopala,’ a composition of Periyasamy Thooran in raga Maand popularised by her guru. Her own popular song ‘Brahmamokate,’ the Annamacharya’s kirtana in Bowli followed. She then had to sing the listeners requests ‘Kuraionrum Illai’ and ‘Maithrim Bhajatha’ to conclude her concert.
The voices of Ragam Sisters, Sivaranjani and Nalinakanthi, are different from each other. Sivaranjani has a soft and malleable voice while Nalinakanthi has a sharp one with a nasal tone to it. But they blend well during their presentation.
The sisters began their recital with ‘Varana Mukhava,’ Koteeswara Iyer’s composition in Hamsadhwani. Sivaranjani’s brief alapana of Mayamalavagowla was soothing and Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Nathadi Gurugoho’ was presented well.
Syama Sastri’s classic piece ‘Mayamma’ in Nattakurinji was pleasing. The sisters exhibited their good patanthara through this kriti. The clarity in rendering the verses added a compliment to it.
The extensive handling of the vivadhi raga Naganandini by Nalinakanthi had the stamp of their training with S. Rajam, an expert in the area and the kriti ‘Sathaleni Dinamulu’ of Tyagaraja was a proof of their vast repertoire.
Another rarely heard composition of Muthuthandavar ‘Darisithalavil’ in Lathangi followed before the sisters took up ‘Santhana Ramaswaminam’ in Hindola Vasantham.
Sivaranjani then presented the main raga for the evening Kharaharapriya. The alapana hovered around the madhya sthayi mostly. Srilakshmi Venkataramani supported well during the alapana by presenting a neat sketch of the raga in the solo segment. She knew the exact spots where the vocalist was to be let alone to express without the violin accompaniment.
‘Rama Nee Eda’ was gracefully rendered. The thani by Hamumanthapuram Bhuvaragan on the mridangam and G. Ravichandran on the ghatam was set in a perfect timeframe but tended to hurry towards the end.
The sisters, who performed to a full house, concluded with the Revathi raga kriti of Purandara dasa ‘Aparadhi Nanalla’ in Khanda chapu to a long applause by the audience who positively acknowledged their talent.