Vocalist V.R. Dileepkumar’s clear and energetic presentation spoke volumes about his skill in manodharma.

Powerful presentations with perfect sruti alignment, clear diction and rich creativity were the prominent features of V.R. Dileepkumar’s vocal recital at the M.D. Ramanathan auditorium, Chembai Memorial Government College of Music, Palakkad. Having entered the Carnatic music circuit as a promising vocalist years ago, Dileepkumar has emerged as a competent and complete musician, through sheer dedication and rigorous sadhakam.

What sets him apart is his simplicity and unassuming nature. Starting with Tyagaraja’s ‘Sri Raghukula’ in Hamsadhwani, he set the concert off to a smooth start with energetic portrayals of ‘Santhana Goplakrishnam’ in Kamas (Muthuswami Dikshitar) followed by ‘Parama Purusham’ in Lalithapanchamam (Swati Tirunal). His alapana of Varali, punctuated with a plethora of akaaras, was truly classical. Touching even the panchama in the upper octave, he encapsulated the quintessence of the raga. His interpretation of the Tyagaraja krithi ‘Yeti janmamithi’ reflected the serene content of the composition. Although the niraval at ‘Saagarasayamuni’ was conspicuously absent, he rendered sparkling kalpanaswaras, revealing his originality.

‘Tolijanmamu’ of Tyagaraja in Bilahari served as an interlude to the main raga of the evening, Keeravani. Dileepkumar was at his best in his lucid delineation of this enchanting raga. His expansive elaboration, stage by stage, was brilliant. The sancharas leading to the shadjamam and the prayoga sa ri ga ma in the upper sthayi deserve special mention. After such a wonderful exposition of the raga, the choice of Tyagaraja’s immortal composition ‘Kalikiyunte gadha’ was apt. The intricate patterns in the niraval at ‘Baguga Sri Raghuraamuni’ were an aural treat. The permutations and combinations the vocalist wove in the swaraprastharas and the variety of swara clusters suffixed with ‘ri’ (rishabha) spoke volumes about his profound manodharma.

A fine sketch of Brindavanasaranga, followed by Purandaradasa’s devarnama ‘Idu bhagya’, and Narayanatheertha’s tarangam ‘Govardhana giridhaara’ in Darbaarikanada were soaked in evocative bhava. Dileepkumar concluded with Paapanasam Sivan’s ‘Karpagame’ in Madhyamaavathi .

Performing as a team, accompanists Edappalli Ajith (violin), Kallekulangara Unnikrishnan (mridangam) and E.M. Deepu (ghatam) lifted the concert to great heights. Ajith provided valuable support, reflecting the style of the main artiste. His versions of Varali and Keeravani revealed the subtle nuances of the ragas. Displaying his maturity, Unnikrishnan came out with a spirited display. In the tani in Adi tala, he played chatusra gathi and thisra gathi elegantly. Deepu made his presence felt, with his dexterous strokes.

The concert was dedicated to the memory of late Pudupparihaaram Unnikrishnan, who was a lecturer in vocal music at the Chembai Music College. The concert was held on his first death anniversary and was observed as ‘Gurusmarana’.