Exploring a raga’s dynamics

M.K. Sankaran Namboodri. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao  

Sankaran Namboodiri put in an appearance in Chennai after a long hibernation. It was reassuring to see that not only did he retain all of his virtuosity, but rather enhanced his production with a good degree of mellowness.

In 'Manasuloni Narnalu Telusiko’ (Hindolam Desadi), Sankaran appeared to make a plea to Rama to understand Tyagaraja's mind and save His grace; again for the niraval at the charanam of Dikshitar's 'Bhaja Re, Re Chitta Baalambikaam’ (Kalyani, Misra chapu), the singer virtually depicted the goddess as the embodiment of motherhood, celebrated by the gods and granting absolution from the pains of birth and death, in Dikshitar's graphic description ‘Devi, Bhakti Beejodbhava Matrka Arnava Sareerini.’ It would seem inappropriate to define any item as main or sub-main in the concert, as most of them were handled with equal degrees of care, reverence, and elegance. In the alapana in Hindolam, the singer showed himself as a master craftsman who could use his tools aesthetically, as evidenced in the way he deployed his rich voice to make it arresting with a high degree of confidence and voice culture, shorn of half-hearted ravas or brigas in his sancharas.

As he took up ‘Jaya, Jaya, Jaya, Jaya Janakikanta' in Nattai, his impeccable articulation made one want to listen to the sahitya. His starting varnam in Sahana and the Hamsadhwani kriti in Tisra Adi, ‘Namami Vighnavinayaka’, composed by Krishnaswamy Iyer, set the concert at the right dynamic level, with good timing on the part of S. P. Ananthapadmanabha on the violin and Madipakkam Suresh on the mridangam.

At about half-time, Sankaran embarked on the exploration of Khambodi, with an upward sweep from panchama, to descend to his cruising sanchara in the lower mantra sthayi (shadja and below). Ananthapadmanabha, for his part fell quickly in tune with the mood to produce a delightful interpretation of his own.

In the song 'Evarimata' of Tyagaraja, there was again a sublime resonance of all three on the stage. One great service a vocalist can render to Carnatic music is to get the listeners’ empathy by getting them involved in the sahitya. The team succeeded in conveying a taste of ‘brahmaananda’ as they went through niraval at 'Parama Bhakta.’

An eight-minute Behag flashed across the scale up and down, with sharp brigas with the violinist's deft fingers sprinkling more such brigas to merge with the brilliant melody already created.

Following a five-minute tanam came a two-beat Adi, medium-paced pallavi on samam, to the words ‘Vadi Velane,

Arumugane,’ copiously packed with Kapi, Ranjani and Valaji through kalpanaswaras for over 10 minutes.

The novel ending constituted a gear-shift to slow tisram and fast, tuning the sahitya in different ways in each of the cycles, instead of maintaining the same tune in every round. Suresh's tanl avartanam was short, starting at madhyama kala chatusram, shifting to khanda gati, but was effective in catching the listener's attention. The miscellany comprised a soulful Sanskirt vrttam in Chenchurutti ‘Kamalanayana Vasudeva,’ short Tamil item ‘Ethanai Kodi Inbam’ (Desh, Adi) and a thillana in Maand.

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2021 7:04:44 PM |

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