The musical opera Prahlada Bhaktivijaya was conceived interestingly; veteran T.N. Sheshagopalan's recital was captivating in parts
Surabhi Gana Kalamandira celebrated Shri Thyagaraja-Purandara Aradhana for two days. On the inaugural day the organisation presented Shri Purandara Navarathna Maalika followed by Thyagaraja's musical opera (geya nataka), “Prahlada Bhaktavijaya”.
Around ten students admirably animated the characters (“Prahlada Bhaktavijaya”) on the stage under the guidance of Sukanya Prabhakar. The general narrative style remaining simple in consonance with the environment in which the theme was originally conceived, it focused on Prahlada's unconditional surrender to Shri Hari.
In the process of sublimating the context, Sukanya has liberally selected from the source — poetic forms like seesapadyas (Prahlada Naa Bhakthi), kandapadyas (Varamaina, Naa Moravini), utpalamalas (Narada Niku, Sareku Veene, Eppudu Purnakaami), in addition to conventional musical forms (kirthana). Scholarly compositions were rendered with meaning.
Compositions like “Shri Ganapathini” (Sowrashtra), “Ipudaina Nanu” (Bhairavi), “Eti Janmamidi” (Varali), “Nanu Brovakanu” (Shankarabharana), “Varijanayana” (Kedaragoula), “Nannuvidachi” (Rithigoula) and “Entha Paapinaiti” (Goulipanthu) substantially represented all the five acts (anka-s).
The drama reached its climax in “Challare Ramachandruni” in Ahiri (that stood for renunciation -nirveda) highlighting devotion as the easiest means, an epitome of which Shri Thyagaraja stood.
Dr. Sukanya Prabhakar, Nagalakshmi, Amrita Subramaniam, Sangeetha, Meera Manjunath, Gowri Vishwanath, Sudha Venkatraghavan, Megha Bhat and Radhesh constituted the music ensemble.
T.N. Sheshagopalan sang (Purandara Thyagaraja Sangeetha Aradhana by N.R. Mohalla Sangeetha Sabha), accompanied by C.N.Chandrashekhar, (violin), Tumkur B. Ravishankar (mridanga) and B. Shashishankar (ghata).
The veteran commenced the recital with Thyagaraja's “Mudhumomu” (Suryakantha) embellishing it with kalpanaswaras: a few strains in the madhyamakala (as opposed to those delivered in faster paces) amply complemented pensive meditative moods of Suryakantha.
Whereas “Padavini” (Salagabhairavi-Thyagaraja) impressed the audience with lively progressions carrying with it attractively knit swarakalpana, Nadopasana (Begade-Thyagaraja) acquired distinctness through majestic developments.
Purandaradasa's “Naa Ninna Dhyanadoliralu” (subliminally absorbing), preceded Thyagaraja's “Nee Pogada” (Varali), “Aparadhamula” (Rasaali), “Manavyalakim” (Nalinakanti - appended with delectable and scholarly kalpanaswaras, only an artiste of high acumen and stature could materialise.
In spite of all these plus points there were moments loaded with maze of passages and tangled kalpanaswaras more calculated to create wonderment and awe than to foster any ambience of repose. Observe Shanmukhapriya, the accomplished artiste developed in different stages before he introduced the listeners to the pallavi, “Ramabhaktha Thyagaraja”.
In matters of proportion, the alapana section consumed a major share (relatively, pushing the pallavi into undue brevity). The surging masterly bhirkas of various dimensions and frequencies instantly captivated the hall: nevertheless, such passages of bravura belittled the melodic aspects. Further, he could have advantageously avoided very frequent articulations beyond taara sthayi panchama for a pleasing impact.
Swarakalpana passed through Kedaragoula, Shubhapantuvarali, Hindola (passing shades), Athana (faintly recognisable: was clearly discernible with the violinist's refrains), Kuntalavarali, Nilambari and Kaapi.
Violinist lagged behind in technical aspects, and it was hard to conclude whether it was an act of voluntary restraint, or was it a sequel to a deficiency in dexterity in coping with the gushing spontaneity of the singer. The percussionists remained consistent and maintained balance throughout the concert.