It’s difficult to seek an apt adjective to describe the joy that Hamirkalyani brings. Smooth contours, silky glides, delicate yet intricate phrases characterise this raga. This raga is North Indian in origin; in Hindustani music, the raag Kedar (of the Kalyan thaat) is close to Hamirkalyani. While discussing Hamirkalyani, mention has to be made of the two madhyamas — the suddha and prati varieties — in the raga’s structure.
The suddha madhyama is technically the bhashanga (foreign) note and is present in the avarohana. The prevalent order of swaras in this raga would be SPMPDNS / SNDPMmGPmRS, (M — prati madhyama; m —suddha madhyama). Rules cannot fetter the spirit and grammar cannot cripple the gait of this raga. When fine artistes cleverly weave the madhyamas in a phrase, the raga comes alive in all its glory.
The exaggerated glides from the pancama to the sadja heighten its grandeur. Saranga would be considered an allied raga, and subtle differences in swara structure differentiate the two.
I recall learning ‘Parimala Ranganatham’ in this raga from my guru. When I asked Sri Calcutta Krishnamurthy as to where Dikshitar had hidden the raga mudra in this song, he said it lies in the phrase ‘bhajehamveera nutham’. When I could not figure it out, he pointed out that Hamirkalyani used to be referred to as ‘Hamveeru’. Dikshitar has also composed ‘Purahara Nandana’ in this raga. Thyagaraja’s ‘Manamuleda’ is a masterpiece, while Subbaraya Sastri’s ‘Venkatasaila Vihara’ is soulful. The tiruppavai, ‘Thoomani Madathu’, merits mention, while Oothukadu’s ‘Nadamurali’ and Swati Tirunal’s ‘Gangeya Vasana’ are attractive pieces too. The Hamirkalyani/Kedar group of ragas have been used cleverly in a handful of pieces in Tamil cinema. Kedar has been extensively handled, especially in semi-classical bhajan-type pieces, in Hindi films made during the 60s and 70s.
‘Darsan Do Ghan Shyam’ is a lilting bhajan in this raga composed by Ravi for Narsi Bhagat. This bhajan found mention in Slumdog Millionaire. In this piece SM, GPMDP is the opening phrase, characteristic of the raga.
In Guddi, Vasant Desai came up with the riveting ‘Humko Manki Shakti’ sung by Vani Jayaram. In this piece too, the phrase S,S M,G, P,M, D,P stands out. The connection between the sadja and pancama is evident in the phrase P,P SS — ‘Bhed Bhaav Apne Dil Se...’.
In Karnan, the appealing ‘En Uyir Thozhi’ sung by P. Susheela is set in this raga. Here too the opening phrase is SMGP… The M.S. Viswanathan-T.K. Ramamurthy duo creates magic in this complex piece. In the anupallavi ‘Aran Manai Arivan...’ the phrases SM,GP,MD,PNDSNRS are crowning jewels.
In Chandrodayam (music: M.S. Viswanathan), ‘Chandrodayam Oru Penn’ begins in Hamirkalyani. The raga changes in the charanam.
Ilaiyaraaja’s ‘Kai Veenayai’ from Vietnam Colony has prayogas of Hamirkalyani, although touches of allied ragas are present too.
In Gentleman, A.R. Rahman has used raag Kedar in the background scores, as chorus voices. ‘Swasame’ in Tenali and ‘Malargale’ in Love Birds have hints of Hamirkalyani.
‘Bekas Pe Karam Kijiye’ (Kedar) is one of Lata Mangeshkar’s finest songs from Mughal-e-Azam. The string section interludes are heartwarming, conveying the poignancy of the situation in every phrase.
Rafi’s seamless voice caresses in the Kedar piece ‘Kise Ki Yaad Mein’ from Jahan Ara, composed by Madan Mohan. This song is supposed to be one of Madan Mohan’s personal favourites.