The near empty hall did not deter T.N. Seshagopalan’s effort to render a wholesome concert.
Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan’s concerts drew maximum crowd when he began his career in Chennai in the mid 1970s. This trend continued for long. A youngster endowed with extraordinary gnanam and a powerful voice was the toast of the crowd. It was always a purist approach. Till date he has not waned from that. Sadly the attendees’ number now has descended abysmally to a very low level whereas his raga treatises and renditions have always been moving, every time to a new peak. Is it that the discerning rasikas of the 70s have all gone missing? There were hardly 50 odd rasikas when the screen went up at his concert past Saturday. Yet Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS), totally oblivious to this, presented a concert that brought forth the genius in him, all through. He may have over strained his voice but with his sea of experience he overcame this. The navaragamalika varnam and the Saint’s ‘Nada Tanumanisam’ (Chiththaranjani-Adi) with kalpanaswaras helped him warm up well. He did wonders with the alapana of Yadukulakhambodi, the raga which is now almost a rare commodity in Chennai stages. Dikshitar’s ‘Diwakara’ on Saneeswarar was followed up with a detailing of Shadvidhamargini (46th mela). Such is his calibre that he brought the true colours of this recondite raga with aplomb. Koteeswara Iyer’s ‘Antharanga Bhakti’ saw the mathematician Ramanujan in TNS surface in the swara kuraippu segment.
Raja Rao’s anticipation made it even more exciting. His voice, well set by then, was ready for the main. I would rather state Bhairavi was lucky enough to have been his choice. The few rasikas were in for a treat akin to listening to this raga with phrases normally heard from a nagaswaram with brigas. V.V. Ravi was at home in this segment with a confident approach probably inspired by TNS’s raga design.
The niraval segment for ‘Balagopala Palaya Ashumam’ was an extension of his raga foray and there was a bouquet of swaras that followed in two speeds.
Raja Rao having played a 150-minute concert prior to this did not show any semblance of fatigue. His thani in the company of Sivaramakrishnan (ghatam) was energetic. TNS then switched on to madhyama sruti for the virutham ‘Mannupugazh’ in ragas Nilambari, Kosalam and Sahana that lead to Tyagaraja’s utsava sampradaya kriti ‘Rama Rama’ a lullaby popular in dolotsavams with 14 charanams. The thought of Lord Rama in the cradle clubbed with his emotional outpour turned one’s eyes. Jayadevar’s ashtapati in Behag saw an insatiate TNS unmindful of the near empty hall switch on to a research mode experimenting with briga-oriented phrases.