VETERAN Neela Ramgopal's sancharas in lower and higher octaves were fluent. Charukesi

N eela Ramgopal chose a vivadi raga Tamizh kriti of Koteeswara Iyer in the middle of her performance underlining that there is no taboo in singing it in a concert. She even sang the alapana of the raga, as enchanting as its name Sucharitra. Sure, the audience would have been guessing what raga it could be. (A few musicians make it a point to announce the name of the raga after concluding the kriti, if the raga is one of unfamiliar kind in the concert circuit, which is a welcome gesture, viewed from the rasikas' angle.) The violinist, Pakkala Ramadas, faithfully reproduced the raga when his turn came. The lyric was ‘Velum Mayilume' and it was so fresh that it received ovation from the audience immediately after the kriti ended. (Sanjay, of course, had sung it before.)

Neela began her recital with the swara-laden Bahudari varnam ‘Entho Premadhonu' of Lalgudi Jayaraman. This was also out of the routine, not often heard these days and therefore, seemed fresh when it was presented with a brief sketch of the raga at the opening. Muthuswami Dikshitar's ‘Chandram Bhaja Manasa' came next in the order and this Asaveri raga kriti is on the Moon who, Dikshitar says, pleases mankind.

Arabhi in the hands of Neela Ramgopal received the best treatment. Neela's voice has melody but a slightly husky tone adds a kind of weight to it. Her sancharas in both lower and higher octaves were fluent. She took up ‘Oh Rajeevaksha' of Tyagaraja in Arabhi. The mridangam by Nanjil Arul, for this kriti, somehow sounded unique or special because it almost shadowed the lyrics with his fingers weaving patterns of beautiful rhythm. It was a delight to listen to such beautiful touches that go well with the sahityam. Then the vivadi kriti of Koteeswara Iyer followed.

Full of bhavam

Thodi, the ever majestic among the ragas, is a delight whether it is heard on instruments like the nagaswaram or vocal. While Neela's raga alapana brimmed with vigour, her rendition of Tyagaraja's kriti ‘Gati Nivaninekori' was full of bhavam. In one of the Lalgudi Pancharatnams on Goddess Srimathi, Tyagaraja pleads to her and asks her why she is indifferent to him. The bhavam, therefore, was humility, as well as, piety which reflected in the rendition by Neela. The niraval for the charanam lines ‘Raga Sasivadane' and the swaraprastaram that followed it were in tune with the mood of the kriti. Sukhanya Ramgopal on the ghatam was a seasoned player and her violin responses throughout the concert were enjoyable.

The thani by the percussionists was crisp and compact, leaving the vocalist enough time to take up the RTP. Neela Ramgopal's rendition of raga Simhendramadyamam was pure and gentle. The pallavi lines ‘Jagannatha Sannithae, Natha Sahithae, Hithae, Thae, Namasthae, (Tisra Jampai-Misra Nadai) were rendered in the main raga and forayed into Mohanam briefly before swarakalpanas were launched. The lilting Sindhubhairavi viruttam ‘Ninnago Paduvane' and the thillana ‘Malon Marugan Murugan,' were the concluding pieces.