Music

Aishwarya Shankar and Keerthana bring alive their Patantharam

Aishwarya Shankar.

Aishwarya Shankar.

A stimulating ‘Undedi ramudu’ was Aishwarya Shankar’s opening kriti in Harikamboji, a sampoorna raga, which J.B. Keerthana took up as the centrepiece for her concert at the same venue six days later. That was mere coincidence. The real overlap lay in their earnestness in presenting the compositions with clarity. Also, both did not rush through any idea, a basic trait of the school that the duo partly share.

Keerthana’s allegiance to D.K. Jayaraman was obvious in her lyrically rich presentations, the hallmark of DKJ’s patantaram. She has been learning for 22 years under Dr. S. Sunder, who is primarily a DKJ disciple. As her main piece, Keerthana took up ‘Muruga thirumal’, penned by Thanjavur Shankara Iyer, another of Sunder’s gurus.

Bhakti-rich rendition

Iyer’s compositions are rich in bhakti, and the devotional element came through in Keerthana’s niraval. The line, beginning with ‘Karunai kadale’, progressed in a way that reinforced Harikamboji’s capacity to sound devotional.

J.B. Keerthana.

J.B. Keerthana.

K.S. Vijay Balaji took the cues well, ably supporting the singer during the ensuing swaraprastara too. Tirucherai R. Kaushik Rajagopal’s tani avartanam in the three-beat rupaka cycle was compact and in tune with the vocalist’s spirit of sobriety.

The Harikamboji alapana made clear Keerthana’s penchant for unfurling the core shades of any raga without hurry. This leisurely approach bore the stamp of the Musiri school, which the vocalist imbibed from Dr. Sunder, also a student of T.K. Govinda Rao, who was among Subramania Iyer’s frontline disciples.

The longish strides that Keerthana employed for her brief Kapi alapana carried tell-tale signs of the unhurried gait that characterised Musiri (1899-1975). ‘Meevalla gunadosha’ set to khanda chapu has its fourth charanam ending with ‘Rajillu sri tyagaraja’, revelling in upper notes. Keerthana’s uncompromisingly open-throated rendition sounded shrill at a few challenging stretches.

Not diluting the voice while moving up the register and continuing to decorate words with loops and frills are key characteristics of Musiri. Aishwarya’s mentor Suguna Varadachari is his disciple. Aishwarya demonstrated these aspects best in the niraval ‘Kshemakarudu tyagaraja’ in her inaugural piece. Particularly majestic was the emphasis that she used at certain turns. For instance, the first sound in the kriti’s last word ‘nindi’.

Purvikalyani was Aishwarya’s choice for the main. The late-evening reposefulness in the alapana gave ample clue to the grandeur of the ensuing kriti: ‘Meenakshi memudam’ by Muthuswami Dikshitar. Violinist K.V. Krishna’s bowing was fine along the plain passages, but he didn’t show the same grip when the notes gained briskness.

With a voice that sounds much beyond her age, Aishwarya’s uncovered the tender layers of Purvikalyani in the niraval. . A neat tani avartanam followed from Mandapaka Nagalakshmi, who habitually places the mridangam on her lap. The tail-end came as a playful Kavadichindu — given its character by Musiri and popularised by TKG (1929-2011).

Earlier, Aishwarya followed her Harikamboji with Dhanyasi, which seemed to be an ideal choice at that juncture. A neat delineation of Syama Sastri’s ‘Meenalochana’ (Dhanyasi) set to chapu tala was her selection. The details came clear in concept and execution. Succeeding this was a quick ‘Saravanabhava guhane’ (Papanasam Sivan) set to Kannada raga, adi tala.

Keerthana’s kutcheri had begun with a Ganesha stuti in Thodi, followed by ‘Era napai’ in the same raga. The chittaswaras of this Patnam Subramania Iyer composition took a kaleidoscopic view of the melody, emphasising the vocalist’s respect for the structure of any composition.

Dikshitar’s ‘Arunachalanatham smarami’ was next and Keerthana’s ascending notes on the raga were impeccable.

After the tani avartanam came a Tulaseevanam composition in Sanskrit. ‘Nama shravana sukham’ was tuned to Yamuna Kalyani and contrary to the general nature of the raga was rendered in a peppy way.

Overall, the two concerts highlighted the added majesty that Carnatic music acquires when rendered with reflection and devoid of steroids.

The Kerala-based reviewer focuses on music and dance.


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Printable version | May 14, 2022 6:48:18 am | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/aishwarya-shankar-and-keerthana-bring-alive-their-patantharam/article38298120.ece