Concert Kanyakumari’s ‘Panchajanya’ was as much an ode to the panchaboothas as it was to the legendary musicians. Ranee Kumar
It is refreshing to see our classical performing artistes of stature presenting us with thematic creations which are testimonials of their competence, be it fusion, jugalbandi or experimentation within the classicality of their art.
Kanya Kumari’s ‘Panchajanya’ is one such aesthetically artistic creation. It had more than one angle to it and that is what made her violin recital a multi-dimensionally unique one.
She is one among the few maestros who projects her pupils giving them a share on the platform alongside her which goes a long way to speak of her personal contribution to their musical growth. So we had this thematic presentation where she gave us a briefing on the title which enveloped the five elements of Nature which are also correspond to the five chakras of our subtle body. She linked these ‘Panchabhoota’ to five legendary musicians of our times: M.S. Subbulakshmi (whose music spanned the vistas of the skies/ akasha tatwa ), Semmangudi whose music was like fire/ agni ; GNB and M.L. Vasanthakumari whose music flowed like clear water/ jalam ; flute Mali whose tunes were out of the wind/ vayu instrument and finally D.K. Pattammal who was as grounded as the earth/ prithvi . This was not all, the second part of the recital related five different talas (rhythm) to the five elements with suitable ragas.
The bonanza of the evening was the ragam, tanam, pallavi (RTP) where she asked the audience to choose the raga and there was split vote for both Keeravani and Thodi —she did both. The pallavi was like a Madras kadamba malai (flower garland) with 21 fragrant kritis (popularised by these legends) weaved into it! It was from the very outset a stupendous show to the capacity audience at Ravindra Bharathi.
The novelty did not sacrifice the tradition either. There was the customary opening with Vatapi Ganapatim… in Hamsadhwani, a popular MS rendition which corresponded with akasha. She bowed her way straight into our hearts.
The sangathis gushed like water from fresh springs. For the fire element, Kanya Kumari played the Mayamalavagowla ( Deva deva kalaye ) which seemed to be Semmangudi’s favourite those days. The alapana made for a definite statement and the kriti with enduring sangathis. Here is an artiste who makes us feel that she is in close conversation with her violin which in turn is conversing with the audience; hence the soothing touch. Patri’s muktayi made for impeccable conclusion. Then came the blissful breezy Kapi with Meevalla guna doshamemi which symbolised vayu /wind, reminiscent of Mali’s flute. The nectar of Ragasudha rasa… gave us a glimpse of M.L. Vasanthakumari’s style which was supposed to flow like water/ jala tatwa . Kanya Kumari’s student Rajeev mirrored the raga contours and she took up the kriti proper as we drifted along with its melody. There was never a moment lost as she took us along eloquently with D.K. Pattammal’s (metaphor for prithvi /earth) popular Bhairavi ragam ( Chintaya ma ).
The rhythmic patterns were mind-boggling: we had Revathi raga in Chaturasra jati to symbolise bhumi or prithvi ; khandam for vayu , tisra nadai for agni with Shivaranjani, while Sriranjani in mishram represented jalam and the Charukesi in sankeerana nadai spoke for the akasha . For a change, it was the mridangam player who opened the notes of the ragas/talas as she took to delineating them. There was this brief exposition of the raga bhava which contributed to harmony of elemental Nature.
The highlight of the evening was the double damaka of Keeravani and Thodi for RTP which attested her grip over her medium.
The tanam was superb especially as she touched the base swaras. And then with a very innovative pallavi which she borrowed from Endaro mahanubhavulu she gave her 21 kriti-salute to all the great musicians who walked this earth making it richer for us.
Kudos to South Indian Cultural Association for organising this concert.