One may have to wait for a long time to listen again to such a majestic, yet sublime Thodi, the one that N. Ramani crafted with unmatched skill. It would still linger in the minds of those who were fortunate to listen. His mature manodharma kept him anchored at all the three sthayis. There was no suggestion of a hurry. The manthra sthayi prayogas in Thodi were soulful. Mysore M. Manjunath’s delineation of the raga on the violin was equally inspiring.
The song that Ramani chose is the masterpiece of Saint Tyagaraja, ‘Daasarathe’. It offered a vast canvas for the senior vidwan to discover and present every hue and flavour of this stately refrain. The swaras that they played brought out the remaining shades of Thodi.
The splendid thani by Thanjavur Ramadoss on the mridangam and H. Sivaramakrishnan on the ghatam was a pleasing display of several rhythmic patterns. Ramadoss is a giant in his chosen field and excepting in the Thani, where he played very soft, his pace and thunderous decibels vied with each other. At one stage, Ramani openly complimented him.
Sivaramakrishnan produced a few lovely rhythmic formations. Earlier Ramani played an expressive and expansive Mohanam. When Manjunath concluded his sweet alapana, Ramani was the first to applaud. In Dikshitar’s ‘Kadhambaripriyayai’ in Misra Chapu, Ramani again proved his maturity and expertise that he has acquired through the years.
Ramani’s Dharmavati was an epitome of melodic beauty. He rendered Mysore Vasudevachar’s ‘Bhajanaseya’ in Rupaka Tala. One could see the artist adopting the vocalist’s approach. The kalpanaswaras were truly regal.
At Tiruvaiyaru, Ramani plays the ‘Chethulara’ before the rendition of the Pancharatna kritis. In this concert, he portrayed Tyagaraja’s ‘Entharo Mahanubhavulu,’ the Sri Raga Pancharatna. Musically he took the audience on a pilgrimage to the sacred banks of the River Cauvery. It was a leisurely, yet refreshing rendering. In between, Ramani allowed Manjunath to play a couple of charanas. He didn’t forget to show his appreciation for Ramadoss’ accompaniment on the mridangam.
Ramani’s ‘Enna Thavam Seithanai’ brought out Yasodha’s greatness. He took the long flute to render ‘Kelo Sathcharithra.’
While he opened the concert with a mellifluous Sahana varnam, he concluded it with a Thillana and ‘Bhagyadha Lakshmi Baramma.’ In between he played a breezy ‘Manavyala.’
On the whole Ramani offered to the audience a sumptuous musical fare that had both depth and variety.