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A darshan of Carnatic music

R.K.
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Television DD Saptagiri’s state-wide contest for emerging Carnatic music singers is a laudable effort.

Laudable performanceManda Sruti Ravali at the performance.
Laudable performanceManda Sruti Ravali at the performance.

When our television channels are gung-ho over Telugu film songs contests, here is a breather from Doordarshan Saptagiri — a classical Carnatic music contest across the length and breadth of our State, 72 centres to be precise. The final round of the competition was to be in the city with lot of fanfare, so much in keeping with the regional character.

Not to be left behind its private channel counterparts, DD Saptagiri chose to enter this battlefield of music contest with Swara Samaram . The audience were treated to traditional nadaswaram at the entry but then the décor on the dais was not in keeping with tradition.

It was a rather ostentatious stage of Ravindra Bharati opened to the selection of the finalist among just four pre-finalists of the 150 participants. That sounded surprising to the audience (three bus-loads of schoolchildren) who came in droves to be participating witnesses to the contest. It was even more astounding to see that the State did not contribute one single male voice to the semi-final round.

Either we are bereft of youthful male voices or all such voices who must have participated proved way behind the feminine foursome. The unequal representation did show. Before we could dwell too long on this, kudos to DD Saptagiri for its punctuality. The show started on time and worked its way like a well-charged clock and closed exactly at the anointed hour.

The participants — Yoga Keertana, Manda Sruti Ravali, Modumudi Sruti Ranjani and Mylavarapu Sharada — gave us a kriti each in the first round in ragas like Kapi, Reetigowla, Chandrajyoti and Simhendramadhyamam and went ahead to a tougher round of having to show their skill in a ragalapana followed by an improvisation based entirely on the choice of the judges.

The choice of the judges was by draw of lots. So it was entirely a surprise that would greet the contestant who obviously has to prove herself. While Yoga Keerthana rendered a tanam in Madhyamavathi with a brief swarakalpana, Manda Sruti Ravali was given the raga Varali to explore with her improvisation.

Sruti Ranjani was asked to render raga Sriranjani and do a brief niraval and Sharada had her tryst with raga Lalitha. The sessions were kept to optimum time with quick decisions emerging from the judges who were none other than Kalaratna Komunduri Seshadri, veteran Guru Malladi Suribabu and Hyderabad Sisters — Lalitha and Haripriya.

A judicious choice of external and internal panel of judges would have been welcome though.

While two singers were eliminated in the penultimate round, we were left with Manda Sruti Ravali and Yoga Keertana performing the same raga while lending their own creativity to it. The former emerged the proud winner, greeted and gifted by Governor ESL Narasimhan and his wife. DD Saptagiri deputy director general (programme), Sailaja Suman Malladi’s initiative in creating a space for classical music, is laudable.

R.K.

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