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Familiarity didn’t breed contempt: on Bombay Sisters

Bombay Sisters

Bombay Sisters   | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

One of the pleasures of listening to old timers of Carnatic music is the feature of ‘weight’ with the emphasis on each note. This aspect of ‘azhutham’ is particularly necessary for original Carnatic ragas (as opposed to ‘desya,’ or those that crept into Carnatic from other systems). For instance, ragas such as Khambodi and Bhairavi are best sung deep, like a plough furrowing deep into soil. It was therefore a delight to hear C. Saroja sing Suddha Saveri in the absolutely traditional way, bringing memories of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer.

The unhurried raga essay, with the accent on aesthetics, was not particularly creative, even a little stereotypical, but since Suddha Saveri is not so frequently sung, it was an acceptable stereotype, in contrast with a same-old Thodi or Kalyani.

Usha Rajagopalan’s violin play appropriately mimicked the singer’s style and presently Swati Tirunal’s ‘Janani Pahisada’ rang out. The niraval and swaras, at the charanam line ‘Saila Raja tanaye’ were deep.

Plume of swaras

This deep style was evident throughout the concert, right from the early Saramathi (Tyagaraja’s ‘Mokshamu’), and the Begada that came later (’Sankari Neeve’ of Syama Sastri). The Begada piece had a long plume of swaras, sung principally by Saroja.

After the Suddha Saveri came Dikshitar’s ‘Ramachandram Bhavayami’ before serving the main piece, a Purvi Kalyani.

Lalitha sang another traditional raga, which turned out to be the first part of an early ragam-tanam-pallavi. The Pallavi, set to Triputa talam, went as ‘Tillai Sabesan thiru natanam kandaen; anandam kondaen’, and in the niraval, there seemed only a slight variation in the first five words.

In swara singing, while Saroja appended the notes to ‘Tillai Sabesan,’ her sister did to ‘Thirunatanam,’ and the effect was good. The swaras later went into Bilahari, Hamsanandi, Kapi and Hindolam, and it was left to Lalitha to retrace the four ragas and land back in Purvi Kalyani.

K.R. Ganesh’s mridangam, which threw up sonorous sounds, and Adambakkam K. Sankar’s ghatam played a brief but energetic thani.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 12:18:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/bombay-sisterss-accent-was-on-aesthetics/article22296169.ece

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