Lively and unconventional

PANDIT SUDHAKAR Deoley, showing exceptional fortitude, sang to what was practically an empty Kerala Fine Arts Hall at a concert organised recently by the Kerala Fine Arts Society and Rasikapriya. It is reasonable to assume that the combined membership of these two organisations would have been enough at least to ensure a near full house. The people of this hugely deprived city were clearly destined to miss what turned out to be a lively, interesting, if somewhat unconventional concert.

The sparsely tenanted hall, however, had no effect on Pandit Deoley, who presented a startlingly mixed fare beginning with a Khayal in Marvah, which lasted 45 splendid, happy minutes, followed by a ragamalika in which Hindol, Kalyan, Bhupali, Chayanut Shankara, Desh, Tilak Kamode, Basant, Sri Raag, Puriya, Bhairavi, Malkaus, Jaunpuri, Sarang and Kharaharapriya, more or less in that order, played hide and seek. If the Marwah set a grave reflective mood, the ragamalika was festive, full of fairy lights, sparklers and stars swirling swiftly from, raag to raag, in fluent movements. Then came a Swati Tirunal bhajan in Khamaj, a Hamsadwani tarana and a song in Hamsadwani, and one in Amritavarshini and a Marathi geet.

Pandit Doeley was in excellent form, his voice rich and resonant, and the phrasing perfect. Those who have heard Pandit Jitendarji's concerts live would have been delighted to see how much the master's style has rubbed off on the disciple. A grave reflective Bhairavi concluded the recital.

What we missed were those some long contemplative lingerings over `swara', which one learns to expect in a concert of North Indian classical music. The ragamalika, for example, could have lasted longer than the 15 minutes that he allowed. This would have given scope for some serious dwelling on the `swara' and created those special moods and states of minds which is at least one of the reasons for coming to a live concert.

Deen Mohan on the tabla was faultless. On the other hand Vijay Kurien, who shows great promise, could have responded on the harmonium with greater sensitivity. But Vijay Kurien is still very young and has clearly some way to go.

Withal, Pandit Deoley provided an excellent, nourishing musical experience. Except for the discouraging attendance and the mosquitoes that bit every exposed skin in the hall but, mercifully, spared the artists.