Unnikrishnan enthralls

Hareesh Bal.

Unnikrishnan enthralls

UNNIKRISHNAN, like many of the stalwarts of Carnatic music who have made their mark in films, has had the best of both worlds. A prominent young vocalist, he is an extremely popular playback singer, with a huge fan following. In fact, this popularity has helped draw crowds to his classical concerts. His concert, held recently at the Kerala Fine Arts Society, as part of Swati Tirunal Music Festival, was marked by effortless delineation of some of his favourite ragas.

Unnikrishnan began the concert with Saranga varnam `Imthamodi... ' and followed it with the Tyagaraja kriti `Varalanthukom... ' in Gurjari raga, which was popularised by his `guru' S Ramanathan. The gifted singer warmed with up with a balanced rendering of `Sarasamamukha... ' in Khamas.

`Marukelara ... ' in Jayanthasree, saw Unnikrishnan execute admirably the intricate `swara' patterns. And this provided a smooth transition to `ghana' ragas.

`Devi neeye tunai... ' in Keeravani was perfectly phased. Unnikrishnan is known for the selection of Tamil `kritis' by the ones like Papanasam Sivan for elaboration, which makes him very popular with the Tamil masses. A factor which a singer has to bear in mind when holding concerts in Chennai.

Time constraint forced Unnikrishnan to skip the usual, brief, intervening pieces and go for the main raga. He chose Todi and the Tyagaraja `krithi' `Koluvamaragatha kodandapani... ' This must have been a bit disappointing, at least for a section of the audience, who must have expected a Swati Tirunal `krithi', especially since it was at a festival in honour of the great master. The singer could have gone for `Pankajakshanam rameshan... 'or `Saraseejanabha murare... ' Todi is the favourite raga of many a performer and Unnikrishnan's elaboration was marked by some marvellous `brigas'. The effortless ease, with which Unnikrishnan sings, even in the upper octave, with his voice striking at full strength, was what made the concert so delightful. And all this, without resorting to grimaces or loud gesticulations.

Another feature in his concert, something so significant to any musician, is use of the microphone. Unnikrishnan strived to achieve precision, shifting the position of the microphone to the right tone. Many musicians are still ignorant of such technical subtleties.

Thrissur Narendran on the mridangam and Manjoor Unnikrishnan or the ghatam displayed good rapport and dexterity, in more than one part of the concert, apart from the `thaniyavarthanam'. However, B U Ganesh Prasad, an effective violinist, had an off day.

The lighter songs Unnikrishnan rendered with gusto were `Visweswara Darsan kar... ' in Sindhubhairavi, Swati Tirunal's Malayalam `padam' in Surutti `Alarsaraparithapam... .and `Eppovaruvaro... ' in Jonpuri.

Earlier, Unnikrishnan's new album of Murugan songs was released in aid of Vasantha Memorial Trust, an organisation which provides cancer relief. Hareesh Bal.

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