This year’s edition of Manabendra Smaraney’s ‘Raag, Roop Aur Rang’ featured Sudha Ragunathan and Kaushiki Chakrabarty-Desikan in a duet. It could probably be termed as two independent concerts appended by a jugalbandi in the end.
The first one was Sudha’s vocal recital which carried her usual stamp of speed, sound and zing with dashes of melody. Her repertoire included ‘Mathe’, the Khamas Daru, ‘Mamavathu Sri Saraswati’ in Hindolam, Kasiramakriya (Kamavardhini) raga alapana for ‘Visalakshi’ and ‘Jagadodharana’ in Kapi.
A style, her own
It looked as if Sudha felt a sense of saturation in raga and kriti presentation. Was that the reason for the surplus sangatis and frills? Perhaps. For a discerning ear, these sound superfluous since Sudha has evolved a style of her own where the soul of her music lies in the dynamism of presentation with her exceptional motifs and matrices of raga image and swaras.
However, it should be mentioned that Sudha explored certain fresh terrains of inspiring karvais in Kamavardhini, and korvais in swaras.
This bright and brisk offering was followed by Kaushiki’s recital. She showcased a voice that has awesome range and power. Her extensive treatise of Maru Bihag and the dadra she sang spread out the extraordinary power and reach of her voice unravelling the wide spectrum of colours of the raag. Every phrase -- long, short, staccato and extended -- was resplendent with the breathtaking beauty of Maru Bihag.
Kaushiki could effortlessly scale and slide even beyond the normal upper registers. The swaras thrown in between added additional charm.drawing a positive reception.
Kaushiki provided a light classical ‘Rangeen Sari Gulabi’ in raag Pahadi with many interesting loops and improvisations.
The concluding jugalbandi demonstrated not only the confluence of two classical genres but also the amalgamation of two almost similar and powerful vocals. Raag Yaman Kalyani was elaborated by both for the pallavi, ‘Parukkulae Nalla Nadu,’ with a plethora of swara sallies landing on panchamam leading to a calculated and well rounded climax. Raag Sindhu Bhairavi was a colourful exchange between Sudha and Kaushiki for another impressive number. They signed off with a tillana of Dr. Balamuralikrishna in Brindavana Saranga.
During the final ensemble, the sound balancing left much to be desired and hence, sounded noisy. But, in recent times, anything that is aggressive gets a nod from the audience.
The Carnatic part was supported by N. Ramakrishnan on the mridangam, Pakkala Ramadas on the violin and R. Raman on the morsing.
The Hindustani section had Sandeep Ghosh on the tabla and Gaurav Chatterjee on the harmonium.