Young brigade delivers

TALENTED GEN NEXT: (from left) V. Sumithra and Nanditha Ravi

TALENTED GEN NEXT: (from left) V. Sumithra and Nanditha Ravi   | Photo Credit: Photos: S.R. Raghunathan


Ghana-naya-desya ragas unfolded as the artists’ imagination took wing.

Today’s brave new breed of musicians has never had it so good. Offered carte blanche for meaningful experimentation, with a dream venue, an attentive audience and high-end publicity lined up on a platter, all that the seven artistes featured in the walk-in concerts needed to do was – Deliver. Which they did, in varying degrees. The iridescent hues of ‘Raga Rainbow’ glistened rather than dazzled in a thematic spectrum that reflected the Ghana-Naya-Desya ragas.

The inaugural trio comprising vocalists K. Gayathri and Ranjani Hebbar with veena artiste T. Bhavani Prasad launched the Ghana raga celebration with a streamlined presentation of ragam, tanam and pallavi in Nattai, Gowlai, Arabhi, Varali and Sri. Ranjani Hebbar’s crystal-clear voice chiselled firm contours in the Nattai alapana, her vision fulfilling the promise of a structurally sound edifice. Gayathri’s Gowla was initially constrained but opened up to free-flowing interpretation in the tara sthayi.

Deep glides and a yen for winsome phrasing distinguished Bhavani Prasad’s take on both ragas. Ranjanai’s tanam in Arabhi interspersed with Bhavani Prasad’s sprightly input emphasised form and proportion. Gayathri’s voice plumbed mandra sthayi depths with ease and well-rounded passages in the Varali tanam. The three main artists shared the honours in elaborating the pallavi ‘Endaro Mahanu Bhavulu Andhariki Vandamau’(Sri, Adi 2-kalai) and kalpanaswara in Sri dovetailed to different eduppus before embarking on deftly interwoven ragamalika swarams encompassing all five ragas - an interestingly choreographed concept that shot unerringly to the finish line with a well-rehearsed korvai.

Suguna Purushottaman’s Tamil composition encompassed the second set of dvitiya Ghana ragas fine-tuned to the fragrant nuances of Ritigowla, Narayanagowla, Kedaram, Bowli and Natakurinji. L. Ramakrishnan’s vadi-samvadi studded Arabhi on the violin drew attention. K. Shankaranarayanan’s compact tani avartanam stood out for clarity of strokes.

Deep Sea: Naya Ragas

Their respective styles rooted in rock-solid tradition ensured a common meeting ground for V. Sumithra and Nanditha Ravi. The resulting empathy underscored the joint rendition of ‘Nee Saati’ (Sriranjani) as the second segment slid comfortably into relaxed mid-kutcheri stride right from the start. Maturity tempered the absorbing narrative of Sumitra’s Kalyani in its setting of jarus and essence-laden prayogas. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Bhajare Re Chitta’ supported niraval that yielded refreshing motifs and kizhkala swaras that dipped and soared on jaru power. Nanditha developed the Thodi essay with composure, dwelling upon the dhaivatha-nishadha suite to impart distinctive colour. Tonal modulation would have served to effectively punctuate those special statements that call for pause.

Polished sangathis showcased Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Tanigaivalar,’ the lyrics enunciated with clarity, and set off by fluent niraval and kalpanaswaras. Dipping into the vast repository of bhava in Saveri, Sahana, Shanmukhapriya and Suruti, the duo emerged with stirring moments in the viruttam ‘Petra Thaai’ followed by a lilting Mysore Vasudevachar tillana in Suruti. Akkarai Swarnalatha’s violin accompaniment echoed the main artistes’ mindset while B. Ganapathy Raman’s mridangam added dash and verve.

Cascade: Desya Ragas

Serving dessert as the main course, vocalist Sandeep Narayanan and flautist B. Vijayagopal handled ragas usually encountered in the tukkada section. The exploration threw into relief two contrasting elements – Sandeep’s impetuous, forceful interpretation and Vijayagopal’s subdued one, which did not quite jell. In the Brindavana Saranga exposition, there were few meeting points and fewer episodes of vishranthi.

While Sandeep has the advantage of an excellent voice ready to execute any command, he is yet to realise its fullest potential in terms of tone, clear enunciation of syllables and a multi-layered approach. Much uruttal-perattal in the madhya sthayi created an over-busy mosaic unrelieved by resort to reposeful karvais. There’s an abundance of talent here, which if harnessed by discipline would yield excellent results in defining form and structure. Vijayagopal sought niches of quietude and found them for an all-too-brief spell.

Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Soundararajam’ was elaborated with passion. Earlier, a Swati Tirunal kriti highlighted Behaag. The appeal of Khamas was captured in Pattabhiramaiah’s ‘Apadooru.’ S.J. Arjun Ganesh (mridangam) and Nerkunnam S. Shankar (ganjira) guided rhythm with steady focus. When voice and instruments are billed together, artists invariably encounter the problem of settling upon a compatible sruti. Gayathri’s voice appeared a tad strained in the upper octave. For Vijayagopal and Sandeep, flute and voice took a while to settle in certain patches.

Strict adherence to the schedule ensured that each segment began and ended on time. The state-of-the-art sound system made for a hassle-free listening experience, though the third segment required minor adjustments in the artists’ feedback monitors. The stage décor of cream-beige panels with their muted splash of over-sized crimson flowers was a value addition to ambience.

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