The Swarajati was one of the most memorable segments of the festival. LEELA VENKATARAMAN

A. Lakshman's brilliant presentation of the Huseini Swarajati “E Mandhayanara” in Rupakam stands out as the one coveted experience to take back from the whole Music Academy festival. Tagged on very smoothly in the charanam half to ‘E Mayaladi,' the other Swarajati in the same ragam in an imaginative mix and match effort, compounding the already indeterminate authorship of this composition, with scholars ascribing the initial Huseini Swarajati version to Melattur Venkatrama Sastry in homage to Achyuta Nayaka, and the later version addressed by the Thanjavur Quartet to Pratapa Simha Deva.

But right from the start with the Pushpanjali in Simhendramadhyamam and Adi talam composed by K. Hariprasad, without jerks moving on to the Alarippu in Tisra Triputa with its immaculate rhythmic accents and dance lines, emphasising the stately geometry of this item (unfortunately becoming rare in to-day's repertoire), the audience had already been alerted to a performance out-of-the-ordinary. The mammoth edifice of blended abhinaya and nritta created in the Swarajati defies expression and I cannot remember when one has been treated to a more skilful exposition of the jealous nayika.

There was no male/female gendered division in the viewer's mind, watching Lakshman who was the dance. If the mind boggling sanchari details in their subtle mukhabhinaya and netrabhinaya nuances wove sheer magic, complementing the interpretative depth was the nritta, the teermanams with Aadith Narayan's spirited nattuvangam and Lakshman's rhythmic command with grace-filled movements covering the stage, in perfect sync. Nellai D. Kannan's touches on the mridangam further enhanced the teermanam sequences. With K. Hariprasad as vocalist, there was nothing more one could add to the total effort.

Nothing could have equalled the glory of the Swarajati. But now portraying the male perspective it was Krishna in the Jayadeva Ashtapati, “Ksahanamadhuna Narayana.” Very involved in the rendition, this number after such a heavy Swarajathi is taxing on the viewer's mind – which would digest better a light Padam. But no matter, for the magnificent Swarajati made the recital stressing home the point of Lakshman's calibre meriting this performance space much earlier – a touch of irony in his taking the floor immediately after a recital by his student the young Navia Natarajan.