By M.L. Krishnaswami
The 128th Sri Ramanavami Music Festival organised by Sri Ramabhyudaya Sabha Charitable Trust is being held at Alamma Choultry, Devaraja Mohalla.
On 25th March, the inaugural programme was a brilliant and briskly rendered vocal concert by the popular duo sisters Vidu. Ranjani and Vidu. Gayathri. These sisters are originally from Hyderabad where they had their initial training in classical music and since have shifted to Chennai, that cradle for this art form.
Very soon they have achieved remarkable progress in their presentation of this art form and have made a formidable name in the field with the result, their concerts always attract a large mass of music-lovers and connoisseurs.
The sisters were accompanied on the violin by our own Vidu. H.N. Smitha (niece disciple of Vid. H.K. Narasimha Murthy) and on mridanga by Vid. Sai Giridhar.
The sisters commenced their concert with the popular “Jaya Jaya Jaya Janaki Kantha…” in Raga Nata and Kanda Chapu Tala, a Purandara Dasa number. This rendering set the tone for the concert in its beautiful presentation. The second rendering was in Kannada “Kaadiruvenu Nanu Rama Sri Rama,” a krithi by Ambuja Krishna in Raga ‘Ranjani’. The neraval for this came out brilliantly and the accompanying artistes also came out with equal aplomb. The third song was “Kshithija Ramanam…” in raga ‘Devagandhari,’ a krithi by Muthuswami Dikshitar.
This was followed by a detailed Ragalapana in ‘Todi’ which was the main raga of the concert, a ‘Ghana Raga’ you can call it. This was a brilliant rendering and was ably supported by the accompanying artistes Vidu. Smitha and Vid. Sai Giridhar. A special feature of this number was a ‘Graha Bheda’ where ‘Todi’ slightly deviates into ‘Mohana’ for a while before streaming into the main Raga. This is a recent innovation according to me and has become an acceptable module in concerts. The Kriti in ‘Todi’ was “Enduku Daya Radura Sri Rama” by Saint Thyagaraja who was perhaps the staunchest devotee of ‘Lord Srirama.’ It is a befitting tribute to the Lord and his ardent savant Thyagaraja on the Ramanavami day. The ‘Thanyavarthana’ by Vid. Sai Gridhar was wonderful to the core.
The sisters did not forget the famous ‘Swathi Thirunal,’ the erstwhile Travancore Maharaja, whose contribution to Karnatak music is great by any standard. The kriti they chose is in Sanskrit – ‘Ramachandra Pahi Sathatham’ in Raga ‘Purna Chandrika’. This was a neat presentation and well-received.
The surprising feature of the concert was a ‘Raga Thana Pallavi’ on Raga ‘Kaanada’. The sisters brought out the subtle nuances of this raga in great measure in the Alapana component as well as in pallavi ‘Sukhi Evaro…,’ a rich tribute to Lord Srirama. The ragas chosen were a string of three namely ‘Vasantha’ a ‘Hamsananda’ and ‘Durga.’ The sisters and the accompanists shone in their best in this brilliant rendering much to the wide applause of the discerning crowd which had gathered in large numbers.
“Ramachandra Kripalu Bhajamana…” by Saint Tulasidas was neatly rendered. This evoked the elderly connoisseurs of the audience and took them back to the musical greats, the legendary M.S. and Lata Mangeshkar. This number was commenced in raga ‘Yaman’ and slowly strode into two more ragas.
‘Shambho Shiva Shambho…’ the penultimate piece of the concert was a Marati abhang by Saint Tukaram, ‘Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhajamana’ in raga Yaman. The concert ended with a Marati abhang in raga ‘Janjuti’. Totally, this concert by the sisters will remain in the memory of the connoisseurs for a long time to come.