Singed but singing

Mambalam Sisters Vijayalakshmi and Chitra and (below) T.V. Ramprasadh. Photos: M. Periasamy

Mambalam Sisters Vijayalakshmi and Chitra and (below) T.V. Ramprasadh. Photos: M. Periasamy  

Review Artistes from Chennai brought a fresh breeze to the Capital. VENKATESAN SRIKANTH

N ot frequently does the Delhi Tamil Sangam come out with good Carnatic music concerts. To enjoy that, it seems, both the performing artistes and the audience need to sweat it out. Quite literally! R. Vijayalakshmi and R. Chithra, popularly known as the Mambalam Sisters, who performed the other day at the Sangam and the rasikas who attended this concert were sweating it out throughout the concert.

It was a hot and humid evening. The air conditioning system did not work. The few ceiling and pedestal fans were barely enough to beat the heat. While bottle after bottle of water was consumed by the artistes, some rasikas unable to sit inside the hall and at the same time not willing to leave were seen hanging around the entrance doors that were kept open. The misery was further compounded by the long ceremony of honouring the artistes and an equally long speech by the chief guest, in the middle of the concert.

What could have otherwise been a memorable evening turned out to be a messy affair at the Delhi Tamil Sangam.

The Mambalam Sisters demarcated their areas clearly. While Chithra, the younger sibling, took up raga Poorvikalyani for a detailed alapana, Vijayalakshmi took up Mohanam. They presented it independently, unlike in some duet concerts, where ragas are delineated in two or more phases by both the siblings. The presentations were neat, with considerable depth.

While Neelakanta Sivan's composition “Ananda natamaduvar” (Poorvikalyani) was followed by swaraprastharas that brought to the fore the creativity of the siblings, Tyagaraja's “Nannu palimpa” (Mohanam) featured neraval for the phrase “Karamuna shara kodanda kantito” and kalpana swaras. These, including the finishing korvai, were well executed by the sisters.

Family affair

The vocalists were accompanied on the violin by R. Hemalatha their younger sister, on the mridangam by Delhi's K.N. Padmanabhan (the only non-family member on the dais) and on the kanjira by K. S. Rangachary, father of the siblings.

Hemalatha's delineation of Poorvikalyani and Mohanam was delightful. The percussionists provided understanding support and played an enjoyable tani-avartanam in Adi tala. In addition, Rangachary backed up as the ‘chief spokesman' of the sisters and was making announcements in between, which was very odd.

Kalaikoodam event

In another concert organised by Kalaikoodam, another visiting artiste from Chennai, T.V. Ramprasad, delighted the audience with his brief vocal recital of about two hours.

Gifted with a good voice, he impressed listeners with the very opening piece, Dikshitar's “Bhudamasrayami satatam” in raga Nattaikuranji. Ramprasad took up two compositions of Tyagaraja, namely, “Aparama bakthi” in raga Pantuvarali and “Kaligiyunte gadda” in raga Keeravani, for detailed renditions. Though he did not present an alap of the former raga, the neraval and kalpana swaras flowed richly. For the latter case, in addition to a fine delineation of Keeravani, he sang the composition with a solid kalaparamanam (rhythm pattern embedded in the song). Neraval of the phrase “Baguga shri Raghu ramuni padamula' as well as the kalpana swara formats were elaborate. Delhi's VSK Chakrapani on the violin and K.N. Padmanabhan on the mridangam provided excellent support. Chakrapani's delineation of Keeravani was delightful. So was Padmanabhan's tani-avartanam in Adi tala.

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