S. Mahathi straddles the seemingly separate worlds of playback singing (in many languages) and southern Indian classical music. It was her particular identity as a classical vocalist that she sought to proclaim at this sabha.
One couldn’t but marvel at the effort she put into the Madhyamavati composition, or for that matter, the rousing Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi in Sindhubhairavi that followed. Although she made it a point to sing kalpanaswaram as often as she could, her constant attempt to rise above the routine and the ritual was nevertheless evident right through the recital. As in the selection of ragas, songs and composers.
A case in point is the varnam in ragam Nattai, ‘Sarasijanaabha,’ a composition of Palakkad Parameswara Bhagavatar. Tyagaraja’s ‘Intha Kannanandamemi,’ in ragam Bilahari was quite a beauty. Mahathi would not content herself with singing the chittaswaram. She strung another spell of improvisation as with the previous varnam.
The Koteeswara Iyer kriti in ragam Neethimati ‘Mohanakara Muttukumara’ as the third successive rendition was embellished with kalpanaswaram. In her alapana to this song, she displayed her considerable level of comfort and ease to reach notes in the higher and lower octaves. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Aananda Natanaprakasam,’ in ragam Kedaram was a short piece before the other masterful items of the morning appeared.
The kriti ‘Venkatesa Ninnu Sevimpanu’ is not a composition one would normally connect with either Tyagaraja the composer, or the ragam Madhyamavati. But that is an indication of the rich repertoire this artist has acquired over the years, as well as a disposition to infuse, where she can, some fresh air on the concert platform.
M.R. Gopinath, senior violinist with All-India Radio, R. Sankaranarayanan on the mridangam and Rajaganesh on the ganjira provided tremendous support and encouragement to the lead artist.
The lyrics in ‘Kuzhaloodi Ullam Kollai Kondavane, Gopalakrishnane,’ were beautifully improvised - first in Sindhubhairavi and then in Hindolam and Hamsanandi. A thillang of Dr. Rukmini Ramani concluded the proceedings.