A raga having six notes in the ascent as well as the descent (Shadava), with symmetrical tetrachords, is Sriranjani. It is known to please goddess Lakshmi and ushers in prosperity and auspiciousness. The notes present in this raga are Sadja, Chatusruti Rishabha, Sadharana Gandhara, Suddha Madhyama, Chatusruti Dhaivata and Kaisiki Nishada. The Pancama is eschewed in this scale making it more interesting, the beauty of the raga shining forth when the phrase MD, culminates with a little gamaka at the nishada. Sriranjani has several allied ragas including Abhogi and Bagesri. These ragas are different in their own striking way, but to an untrained ear these scales may sound very similar. While in Abhogi the Nishada is eschewed, Bagesri is a different ball-game altogether, the occasional Pancama appearance, the Rishabha occasionally being skipped in ascent, all contributing to a very different flavour, predominantly North Indian.
Sriranjani is, however, a typically South Indian raga, as authentic as idli-sambar. The Classical kritis in Sriranjani include ‘Sogasuga’, ‘Marubalka’, ‘Brochevarevare’, ‘Bhuvini Sasudane’, and ‘Sariyevvare’ of Thyagaraja, ‘Sri Ramachandro’ and ‘Ni Sati Deiva’ of Dikshitar, and ‘Ini Oru Kanam’ of Papanasam Sivan. Dikshitar’s compositions are usually in Sanskrit, the aforementioned piece ‘Ni Sati’ being a Telugu piece, a rarity. ‘Kanavendamo’ of Gopalakrishna Bharati is a philosophical piece in this raga. Sriranjani adds pep to any kutcheri and is usually sung at the poorvangam (first half) of concerts.
In Tamil film music, one of the earliest instances of Sriranjani on the silver screen was in the film Seva Sadhanam. M.S. Subbulakshmi sang ‘Enna Seiven’ in the exact tune of ‘Marubalka’ kriti! In those days, that was a way of attracting the public’s attention to a film song — tuning it in the exact melody of an already popular song. What strikes one is that, back then Thyagaraja kritis were as popular as other film songs... times change, don’t they? A plethora of sangatis in ‘Naan Edhum Ariyen’ add colour to this piece. The unmistakable beginning in the madhyama bears the Sriranjani stamp.
In the film Manmadha Leelai, M.S. Viswanathan composed ‘Naadam Enum Koililey’ in Sriranjani raga. Sung mellifluously by Vani Jayaram, this song is an example of clever composing. ‘S, R G, M DMDND’, the opening phrase, clearly establishes the raga. The frilly improvisations at ‘Gnana Vilakketri Vaithen’ impress, and the other notable feature in this song is the use of the sitar — tempered and controlled, it is an aural treat.
In Salangai Oli, the song ‘Naada Vinodangal Natana Santoshangal’ is sheer musical genius from Ilaiyaraaja. The progressive descent of notes in the opening phrase contributes to a torrential rain of syllables and tones, electrifying. ‘SSND/NNDM/DDMG/MGRS...’ thus proceeds the pattern. The icing on the cake is the alaap sung by S. Janaki covering the scale in totality.
‘Naadam Ezhundhadai’ from Gopura Vasalile is yet another Sriranjani offering from Ilaiyaraaja. In ‘Navarasam Aanadhadi’, the notes ‘NSRG M, DNS’ indubitably point to Sriranjani. Sung by K.J. Yesudas and S. Janaki, a classical feel is predominant in this song. Ilaiyaraaja has composed many a piece in this raga, another memorable one being ‘Vanthathu’ by S. Janaki from Kili Pechu Ketkava.
‘Kannan Nee En Isai’ from Ivan is composed in purely Classical fashion by Ilaiyaraaja and sung effectively by Sudha Ragunathan. In the phrase ‘Naada Oviyam’, the notes ‘GMDM/GMDM/GMGRS’ add fervour. Many sangatis find place in this feisty number.
‘Konja Neram Konja Neram’ from Chandramukhi, sung by Madhu Balakrishnan and Asha Bhonsle, and composed by Vidyasagar, points mainly to Sriranjani (note the charanam ending with ‘SNDMGRS’ phrase). There are certain phrases in this song that leave out the Nishada. An attractive take on the raga, this piece is contemporary in feel and traditional at the roots.