Sugantha Kalamegam focussed on the devotional aspect of every raga. H. Ramakrishnan
Muthuswami Dikshitar travelled all over India and sang in praise of numerous kshetras. In the kriti on Chidambaram, ‘Ananda Natana Prakasam’ in Misra Chapu, he describes the ‘formless form’ - Akasa of Lord Shiva. Sugantha Kalamegam presented this kriti in all its sacred magic. Her manodharma enriched and embellished the kirtana at ‘Bhukthi Mukthipradha Dhaharaakaasam’ in the anupallavi. That was quintessential Kedaram.
Tyagaraja's ‘Ethavunara’ in Kalyani was the piece-de-resistance. Outstanding, because it was the aesthetic definition of both the raga and the kriti and only a seasoned artist like Sugantha can offer that. The niraval was at ‘Sri Garudaku’. The thani by J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and T. Rajaganesh on the ganjira was neat. Vaidyanathan has evolved into a top ranking artist, and his accompaniment elevates the quality of the concert. Earlier, Sugantha delineated Dhanyasi, bringing out the devotional aspect of the raga. The rarely heard Dikshitar kriti in rupaka tala, ‘Sri Ranganathaya Namasthe Namasthe’, with a samashti charanam was indeed a matchless presentation.
In the Nattai composition ‘Ninne Bhajana’, Tyagaraja says: ‘Oh, Rama, You bestow bliss on those engage themselves in sacred acts like Snana (in holy waters), Japa, Tapa, Yoga, Dhyana and Samaadhi’. Sugantha's rendering had that element of divinity. The niraval and swaras were at ‘Seethanaatha, Sakalaloka alaka’, at atheetham. Hats off to Vaidyanathan! He was on the dot.
Half way through the concert, Madurai T. Srinivasan entered the auditorium. Offering Pranams to that great mridangam veteran-cum composer, Sugantha rendered his famous kriti in Sindubhairavi, ‘Karunai Deyvame Karpakame’. The powerful lyric, the raga and the way she rendered it literally took the audience to the shrine of Sri Karpakambal.
Spencer Venugopal's Kannada varnam, ‘Nannu Brova,' provided the right start for the engaging concert. Thinking it was a 90-minute concert, she almost wound up with a tillana. When told that she had another half an hour, she rendered Gopalakrishna Bharati's ‘Irakkam Varamal Ponathenna Karanam’, Oothukkadu's ‘Parvai Onre Pothume’ and a Kabir Bhajan - the three coming as a bonus.