By Dr. Padmavathi Narasimhan
You are as young as you feel’, says Sangeeta Kala Nidhi T.V. Shankaranarayan (TVS), the 73-year- young senior vocalist of the Karnatak music world, who sang under the aegis of Sri Nadabrahma Sangeetha Sabha on the 3rd of this month. He was accompanied by H.N. Bhaskar on violin, Tumkur Ravishankar on mridanga and G.S. Ramanujam on ghata. As the concert was in memory of M.S. Gopalakrishnan, the violin legend, TVS chose to sing most of the favourite ragas and compositions of MSG. He remembered MSG with each composition.
Shankaranarayan is a vocalist famed for his emotive style of singing based on the shruti-perfect, exciting style of his uncle-Guru Madhurai Mani Iyer, from whom stems his style. Though we see plenty of his imitation in his style, he also makes us aware of the fact that he is following a model eminently worthy of emulation. Here is a musician who at once feels one with the audience though with no impressive mathematical calculations in his swaras.
The very first composition ‘Eka dantam vArana vadanam’ by Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar in Hindola prefixed a shloka on Lord Ganapati. The rendition was striking and amazingly shruti-perfect, though the raga has no panchama in it. The dancing swaras which would not allow the audience to sit tightly glued to the seat were very musical and exciting. ‘Manavyalakim’ in Nalinakanti, also a favourite of MSG, found an elaborate alapana (unusual for the raga which has less scope) and intense swaras. In Shanmukhapriya, the vocalist rendered some hushable swaras with an observation that MSG had a great liking for those. TVS fondly remembered how MSG would never ask him what he would sing for the concert, but how only once he made a request to the vocalist on the dais to sing ‘Andavane unnai nambinen’ by Papanashanam Shivan and how MSG was moved to tears after the rendition.
TVS next chose Kambhoji, his family raga, for which he is particularly noted for easily reaching upper notes. ‘Marakatavallim’ by Muttuswami Deekshitar was satisfying with sumptuous swaras. ‘Sarasamukhi’ in Gowda Mallar of Mani Iyer fame received happy applause from the listeners. His own shloka — a four-line viruttam on Krishna loaded with emotion in Yaman Kalyani led to the popular devaranama ‘Krishna Nee Begane Baro.’ The concert concluded with Purandara dasa’s ‘Neene Doddavanu’ in Revati.
Bhaskar, a disciple of MSG, was harmonious with the vocalist, enjoying each phrase. Ravishankar and Ramanujam were absolutely unobtrusive, hardly ever intruding to disturb the main stream of the melody.