Dr. Shankar Srinivas chose to be sweet and subtle.
Passion enables some people to straddle two worlds with commendable merit. As it has in the case of Dr. Shankar Srinivas, a medical practitioner, radiology specialist to be precise, at Cleveland, the U.S., who presented a vocal concert recently.
Srinivas has a malleable voice, soft and sweet; a little too soft. In a way, the supple voice suited the emotion loaded Papanasam Sivan’s compositions he offered in his concert for the banner of Papanasam Sivan Raisgar Sangam at the Narada Gana Sabha Mini Hall. Dr. Srinivas set the ball rolling with ‘Tatvamariya Tarama’ (Ritigowla). ‘Saranam Iyappa’ (Mukhari), ‘Ksheera Sagara Sayee’ (Poorvi Kalyani) with a raga preface and niraval, (swaras on ‘Unatharul Indri Oar Anuvum Asayumo’) were moving. He took up a light weight Vasanta and two heavy weights Kharaharapriya and Thodi for raga elaboration.
The doctor touched the main phrases and contours of these ragas and they were quite inspiring. But then he could have chosen either for a wider exploration, instead of giving them equal share. Not that it sounded odd; but a performer’s vision would have become more poignant and visible with a deeper approach and study. His sancharas on all the three segments were more precise replacing defined leads, stopovers and internalised forays.
The choice in Vasanta was ‘Maadayai Nidhi’ with its beautiful chittaswara and sahitya (why is wonderful number ignored by singers?). ‘Aiyappan Avatharittha Kathamrutham’ in Kharaharapriya and ‘Kundram Kudi Konda Velava’ in Thodi were the other songs.
Shankar set on niraval in ‘Mohini Vadivu Kol Malarkannan’ with swaras in ‘Aiyappan’ and swara sequences on the pallavi for ‘Kundram.’ Again, with a little more extrapolation and dexterity, the Thodi swaras, which were beautifully and effectively centred on ‘panchamam,’ would have created greater impact.
It was, indeed, a surprise that a male vocalist believes more on subtle treatment than on boisterous overtures. Well, truly as Rukmani Ramani, daughter of Papanasam Sivan, mentioned, it was a concert of 'tranquil stream' and not 'surging flood.' However, singers, especially male artists, have to be assertive in order to make an impression these days. Enticing but rarely heard Sivan songs - ‘Paradevathe’ in Manirangu and ‘Kannanai Pani Maname’ in Shanmukhapriya were worthy inclusions. Dr. R. Hemalatha on the violin extended excellent support in the raga essays and swara exchanges enriching the quality of the concert. B. Sivaraman on the mridangam chose to soft pedal in keeping with the mood of the main artist.