Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain and flautist S. Shashank joined hands to come up with an extravaganza of rhythm and melody.
Zakir Hussain's persona is so overwhelming that most of the promos displayed only his name. But the tabla ustad magnanimously set matters right by saying that it was flautist S. Shashank's show and that he was accompanying Shashank. The venue of the show was the precincts of Bolghatty Palace, Kochi. Muthaiyya Bhagavathar's `Sudhamayi sudhanidhim' in Roopaka tala followed Shashank's short sketch of Amruthavarshini. Shashank executed the moorchana on the gandhara well, and in the swara passages, he showed how even a simple pentatonic scale like Amruthavarshini can achieve a complex form. All this while, Zakir Hussain unobtrusively accompanied the flautist on the tabla with some gumkis to fill the gaps.
Display of scholarshipWhen Shashank went for a gamaka-laden rendition of Abheri in the raga alaapana, he resorted to playing gamakas and brigas for the tanam. His scholarship and flexibility on the instrument was displayed in the pallavi in chathurasrajathi Adi talam. And for the percussion duet with Zakir Hussain, Shashank rightly chose Satish Kumar whose vibrant tenor on the mridangam could keep pace with the intricate `thekkas' of the tabla. Both the percussionists played their own parts spontaneously, and in the final phase, the rhythmic extravaganza reached a crescendo, as the duo came up with a long piece, which was scintillating. Zakir Hussain explored various tonal aspects of the tabla as he played at times only with the `dayan;' his performance was punctuated by vigorous thuds, dry tones and delicate soft touches. He even used the tuning hammer of the tabla to produce special sounds. The lilting soft `relas' were so musical, a feature that is typical of great percussionists who make their instrument close to becoming a `nada vadya.' For another percussion duet, Shashank just left an open pallavi, to be caught up by Zakir Hussain.
`Sawaal jawab'The `sawaal jawab' session was so much in tandem that instead of a racy competition, one saw the respect the artistes had for one another. `Taka tira kita' and `dhina gina' bols seemed to go hand in hand on both the instruments of varying traditions. Zakir ably supported the inherent feel in a folk number. The two close-circuit projections made it possible for the audience to get close-up views of the artistes. The show organised by PrimeTime Unlimited and Dharani was one that Kochiites would cherish for a long time to come.