Mane and melody combo

HIGHLY INDIVIDUALISTIC Sanjay Subramanyam slipped into long spells of breathless pauses   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: R. SHIVAJI RAO

Sanjay Subramanyam is adept at packaging tradition for a contemporary audience

With locks running down his neck and almost reaching his beard, a bubbly attitude adding more individuality to the game of melody, Sanjay Subramanyam manages to bring in a strong contemporary feel to his concerts, albeit the serious raga, tala, kriti and bhava he chooses to render. It isn't an exaggeration to say that the curious mix of Sanjay's metallic voice and Guruvayur Dorai's subdued rhythm heightened the mood in the beautiful NMKRV Mangala Mantapa in Jayanagar recently. Organised by Advaitha Foundation as part of their ongoing bi-monthly programmes, the evening saw Muralidharan on violin and B. Rajshekhar on morsing adding more fizz to the musical fiesta.Flagging off with Tyagaraja's "E Vasudha" in Sahana, Sanjay moved on to quickly outline Pantuvarali. The time he allotted was a crisp six minutes to showcase a neat sketch of the raga contours for Tyagaraja's "Aparama Bhakthi". He slipped into long spells of variety combination swaras ending in madhyama and nishada intermittently for a smooth slide back into the kriti that also made the violinist tackle the exchanges with great enthusiasm. The tala calculations and the artiste's ingenuity to bring in a rich amalgam are factors that help concerts catch up with contemporary Carnatic styles.With an excess of Tyagaraja's kritis that dominated the concert, Sanjay was smart enough to bring in Purandaradasa's "Ninna Nambide Neerada Shyama" in Mukhari for the Karnataka crowd even as he delighted the Tamils gathered there with several Tamil compositions, and the GNB popular "Radha Sametha Krishna", the racy madhyama shruthi composition on request. Kalyani for Tyagaraja's "Amma Ravamma" saw Sanjay take a good one-minute stop on the ascending shadja that could put any breathless album to shame. The frequent breathless passages earned him equally long rounds of applause too! The neraval in Kalyani provided ample scope for both mridanga and the morsing to match the melody in exciting patterns. With the 22nd melakartha raga Kharaharapriya, one saw Sanjay in true form. This is a raga with symmetrical tetra chord that brings some pleasing straight swaras to add up to the beauty of the raga chaya. Traversing effortlessly on a scale that leads you on to a good number of janya ragas (the most famous being Natabhairavi and Shankharabharana), Sanjay's tread on certain phrases reminded one of rag Kafi of Kafi Thaat in the corresponding scale. Tyagaraja has provided the maximum number of kritis in this raga. Alapana, pallavi, neraval, swara... all the aspects saw Sanjay tackle the melodic points on the right wave. Whether it was full-throated melodic akaara explanations, partially open meanderings or closed mouth humming, the swara-oscillations and gamakas were varied and vibrant. Adding more colour was his own body language — bouncing hair, swinging shoulders and swaying hands... the collective effort that spoke of mellifluous music.Even if the tani-avarthana isn't comprehensible to the not-so-tala-familiar-listener, the manner in which Dorai (mridanga) and Rajshekhar (morsing) packaged it for the audience, left them asking for more! Tukdas in Sindhubhairavi and Kapi, and a Darbari Kaanada tillana brought the curtains down on a memorable evening.RANJANI GOVIND