Once when sarod player Pt. Rajeev Taranath had to wait for long hours at a station for his connecting train, he decided to visit Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. When he mentioned the musician’s name to the taxi driver, he drove him straight to Pt. Bhimsen’s residence. And when Pt. Rajeev was about to pay the driver, the latter refused saying it was his honour to bring visitors to the legendary artiste’s home.
To mark the centenary year of this great vocalist, Sunaada Art Foundation, Bengaluru, and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai, presented ‘Dakshinottaram’, an evening of Carnatic and Hindustani concerts. The programme was inaugurated by the Governor of Tamil Nadu R.N. Ravi.
Pleasant and appealing
With her resonant and pleasant voice, young Uttara Pattathil began with a fine rendition of a composition in raag Yaman, while Uttara Unnikrishnan sang ‘Man mohan murli’ in raag Durga. Her presentation was appealing.
After the initial hiccups with the sound system and his voice, P. Unnikrishnan settled down and sang ‘Maya theetha swaroopini’ in raga Mayamalavagowla. His brief niraval and swaraprastaras were vibrant, which brought out the beauty of the raga. R.K. Shriramkumar’s well-nuanced repartees on the violin enhanced the mood of the song. The Kannada composition ‘Sada yenna hrudayadalli’, popularised by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, was an appropriate choice to mark the occasion, and Unnikrishnan’s singing was soulful. Trichy Harikumar on the mridangam, and K.V. Gopalakrishnan on the kanjira provided rhythmic support.
Varali is a raga that strikes an emotional chord with listeners. The presentation of Papanasan Sivan’s composition ‘Kaa vaa va’ on the violin by Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan and Vijayalakhmi was captivating. The Namdev abhang ‘Pandarini vasa’, which was performed next, didn’t create any magic, with alternating vocal and instrumental renditions striking a discordant note. The heady combination of a maestro’s composition, lilting notes of raag Pahadi, and the sweetness of the instrument, blended seamlessly in the thillana. It was a melody-rich presentation by the duo.
The final session of the programme featured Pt.Nagaraj Rao Havaldar, a prime disciple of Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. A strong, powerful voice that is reminiscent of his guru is Pt. Nagaraj’s asset. He unravelled the beauty of the monsoon season in his brief exploration of raag Mian Malhar. He concluded his session with a bhajan, composed by Mahipathidasa in raag Bhairavi. The crisp rendition left the audience longing for more. He was accompanied by Sameer Hawaldar on the harmonium and Kedarnath Hawaldar on the tabla. It was a confluence of talented artistes, but the short span of time given to each artiste offered less scope for the audience to enjoy the music. Featuring just one artiste in each style would have helped in highlighting the salient features of the two streams.