CONFLUENCE - Anooradha Sriram and Sriram Parasuram presented a blend of styles and genres in which melodies from the films of K. Balachander were given prominence.

Their combined academic and artistic credentials are awesome! She's a graduate from the Madras University, who also secured a Masters degree in Ethnomusicology, from Wesleyan University; studied Carnatic and Hindustani music in India as a disciple of Thanjavur S. Kalyanaraman, T. Brinda and Pandit Manikbua Thakurdas, as well as Western classical opera music in the U.S. and went on to become a popular playback singer in South Indian cinema, singing hundreds of songs in different languages, viz., Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. A forceful source of her inspiration has been her mother Renuka Devi, an accomplished playback singer.

He’s a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Bombay University, and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, who studied Carnatic and Hindustani music in India as a disciple of his mother Parvathy Parasuram, and Gurus K.S. Narayanaswami, T. Viswanathan and Pandit C.R. Vyas; obtained a Master’s degree in Western classical violin and a Doctorate in world music from Akron and Wesleyan Universities in the U.S., and is a very highly accomplished vocalist/violinist in Carnatic/Hindustani music.

We are, of course, talking about Anooradha Sriram and her versatile husband Sriram Parasuram, who give unique vocal recitals together in both Carnatic and Hindustani music. In a recent performance at Hamsadhwani, they presented a different side of their joint efforts, in the form of the contrasting colours of Carnatic and Hindustani music, vis-à-vis, select Tamil film songs set to the same or very similar melodies.

The occasion was Hamsadhwani’s annual day, when the sabha conferred the title of ‘Citizen of the Year’ on K. Balachander, the undisputed dean of directors of Tamil cinema. The concert was announced as a tribute to Balachander, and all the film songs were naturally chosen from his own movies.

The recital was well conceived with Anooradha concentrating on film music, and Sriram on the classical and devotional -- the initiative was taken up by them alternately.

Thus, Anooradha first rendered Tamil film songs in the Carnatic ragas Pantuvarali (‘Yezhu Swarangalukkul’), Hindolam (‘Namma Ooru Singaari’), Sriranjani (‘Naadam Ennum Kovilile’), and Sindhubhairavi (‘Naanu Oru Sindhu’). These were matched by Sriram with a drut bandish in the Hindustani raga Purya Dhanashree (‘Paayaliya Jhankar’), a chota khayal in Malkauns (‘Aaj Mere Ghar Aiyila Balma’), a raga alapana of Sriranjani followed by a full treatment of the Tyagaraja kriti, ‘Brochevaarevare,’ and a bhajan in the Hindustani raga Bhairavi (‘Bhavaani Dayaani’).

Sriram presented a Thanjavur Sankara Iyer song in the raga Saaramati (‘Manasaara’), a Guru Nanak bhajan in Sindhi Kafi (‘Jagat Mein Dekhi Jhooti Preet’), and an Urdu ghazal in Pahaadi (‘Dil Me Ik Leher’); and these were matched by Anuradha with highly popular Tamil film songs (‘Paadariyen Padippariyen,’ ‘Vasanta Kaala Nadhigalile,’ and ‘Yedhedho,’ with the flavour of the ragas Saaramati, Keeravani and Pahaadi respectively).

Although the concert began only at 7.30 p.m., after honouring K. Balachander, and in spite of a rainy ambience in the semi open-air venue at Hamsadhwani, the music wasn’t cut short. It lasted till 10 p.m., the artists being visibly thrilled by the intense audience response and Balachander’s presence till the very end.

The evening’s music created a couple of forceful impressions in my mind. Sriram Parasuram, with his powerful singing style, ought to give solo vocal recitals in Hindustani music. Anuradha’s voice seems to have acquired an extremely rich tone, which made all those old familiar film songs sound very fresh.