22 December, 2015
Aruna Sairam began her concert for Narada Gana Sabha at its main hall, to a near-full house with a rare varnam in Thodi by Annaswami Sastri, Karuna Katakshi. Closely on its heels came the Thiruppavai, “Mayanai Mannu Vadamadurai Maindhanai “(Sri Ragam) meant for the day (5).
That she remains at the crest of popularity could be seen by the way she chose her songs and the manner of rendering them. These were bound to have an unfailing appeal on the audience. She took up Mohanam for alapana which was punctuated with those time-cannot-wear-out phrases that were mixed with her own elements of originality. The song was Muthuswamy Dikshithar’s Gopika Manoharam which had an artistic grouping of swaras at Gopalam Kowsthubhamani. Special mention needs to be made here of the pattern of accompanying style adopted by the laya vidwans, J Vaidhyanathan on the mridangam and S V Ramani on the Ghatam. They were fully able to comprehend the level and pace of the songs as they were being rendered and played with the commitment that was expected of them. While playing for the swaras they were able to anticipate without error the trend of the korvais, both long and short, and rose to the occasion with brilliant solkattus that were even with that of the main artiste.
After giving a staid interpretation to Evvare, one of the rare gems of Thyagaraja in Kangeyabhooshani, Aruna picked up a virutham that was full of praise of the Temple as a concept and then launched Ranga Puravihara, the evergreen song in Brindavana Saranga. The thunderous applause that greeted the commencement of this song and the given sequence was indicative of the way in which Aruna had assessed the temperament of the audience. Raka Sasivadhana in Takka came as a filler. As if to prove her capability further, she gave an involved alapana of Bhairavi as a preface to Upacharamulanu, a krithi of Thyagaraja. It again had those raga moorchanas that were representative of Bhairavi. With an unusually short neraval she preferred to get into kalapanaswara segment fixing KapataNataka as the point of occurrence. Listeners had the luxury of listening to three alapanas in her concert. Between Mohanam and Bhairavi there was an alapana of Panthuvarali for the song Sarasaksha of Swathi Thirunal. These three ragas had different orientations. Rasikas could not have asked for more.
Rajiv, a much sought after violinist these days, was clear about his perspective. During raga alapanas of Mohanam, Panthuvarali and Bhairavi, that afforded him a chance to showcase his talent, he adhered to the methods and style of the main artiste. During swara exercises he answered with alacrity for the short phrases and was able to dwell for the right duration for the longer ones that lent meaning to the combinations that were worked out.