Avoidable wordplay notwithstanding, Unni Krishnan’s concert was a finesse-filled exercise.
Talking about a monumental Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi rendered by Dr. R. Ganesh in a recent concert, (discussed on May 4) I had mentioned that the prevailing trend is to prefer shorter and lighter versions of the RTP. An effective way of achieving it is to select some lighter and unusual melody.
And that’s exactly what vocal maestro Unnikrishnan did in his recent performance at Hamsadhwani, where he chose the raga Saramati for rendering an exceptionally colourful RTP, immediately following the main number, which was Dikshitar’s weighty kriti, ‘Tararakeswara Dayanidhe,’ in Sankarabharanam. Saramati is permanently engraved in the seasoned rasika’s mind as the melodic base for Tyagaraja’s heart-warming song, ‘Mokshamu Galada,’ and the finesse with which Unnikrishnan rendered the Ragam and Tanam, created an atmosphere highly charged with spiritual emotion.
But the single-line text of the Pallavi was a clever wordplay (‘Vande Veda Saaram, Ati-Sundaraa-kaaram Sivam,’ the third and fourth syllables combining as ‘Saramati’) which seriously diverted the listeners' attention and diluted their concentration. As a result, the Pallavi, which could have been a heart-melting climax, sounded like a clue in a crossword puzzle and actually turned out to be an anti-climax!
Mind you, I am not making this statement in a negative spirit at all. In fact, if not viewed in the light of the highly charged scenario created by Unnikrishnan’s own marvellous rendering of the Ragam-Tanam and the intense spiritual flavour inherent in the chosen raga, the Pallavi was quite an amusing and pleasing piece of music. But I do earnestly wish to listen to that marvellous might-have-been climax -- so let me just request Unnikrishnan to sing a Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi in Saramati once more, without that Sudoku element.
Charumati (violin), Anantha R. Krishnan (mridangam) and N. Guruprasad (ghatam), played their roles so wonderfully well!