An alternative to the kacheri

Sreevidya Janakiraman and her artist companion Janakiraman teamed up for an off-beat Carnatic concert recently

Vocalist Sreevidya Janakiraman and her husband — violinist Janakiraman, displayed their expertise across different disciplines, to provide an alternative experience to a Carnatic music concert recently. In a rare blend of fine arts-meeting-classical music, this event had vocalist Sreevidya rendering a series of Carnatic compositions while Janakiraman worked on a canvas simultaneously. Hosted as part of an experimental monthly music series Terrang at The Conscious Store, Banjara Hills, the limited audience were in for a unique audio-visual treat for a couple of hours.

Sreevidya’s concert attracted more curiosity also because of the absence of accompanists at the venue. Yet, making good use of her adaptive tone backed by a strong technique, her composition choices comprised works by a host of vaggeyakaras including Muthuswami Dikshitar, Swati Thirunal, Ramadasu, Annamacharya, Purandaradasu among many.

Commencing with Vaatapi Ganapatim bhaje in Hamsadhvani ragam, she stayed true to the soul of the Dikshitar composition with notable poise and bhakti bhava. The complex kalpanaswaras leading to the kriti’s culmination were a true showcase of her skill. The fluidity in her rendition persisted with the next kriti Deva deva kalayamithe, structured more like a musical plea from a devotee directed at the supreme to help him attain salvation. This appealing Swati Tirunal composition made for an enriching hearing, thanks to the singer’s attempt to personalise it.

Among the toughest compositions she chose for the evening was Dikshitar’s Nandagopala Mukunda in Yamuna Kalyani ragam. Comprising a wide range of crests and troughs in its musical structure, this leisurely-paced kriti is replete with several descriptions and facets of Lord Krishna. The number pushed the singer to the extremes but the singer did a fine job of it apart from a few tonal inconsistencies. The rare Ramadasu kriti Rama Raara Sita Rama Raara in Ananda bhairavi ragam brought some liveliness to the proceedings.

Sreevidya in concert

Sreevidya in concert  

For the alapana segment, Sreevidya sketched the Kalyani ragam, fittingly called the queen among the family of ragas, a fact that she too justified to good effect. Equally pleasant and melodious was the modern-day vaggeyakara Papanasam Sivan’s Ksheera Sagara Sai, an ode to Lord Vishnu, set in Purvi Kalyani ragam. The first and the only Kannada composition for the evening, Purandaradasu’s Alli nodalu Rama set to tune by Kollegal R Subrahmanyam (also the vocalist’s grandfather) in Hamsanandi ragam, made for a personal yet an immensely worthwhile addition to the evening line-up.

Another instance that affirmed the singer’s eclectic — if not spectator-friendly composition — selection was Swati Tirunal’s Vishweshwar darshan kar in Sindhu Bhairavi ragam. One of the rare Swati Tirunal kritis with a Hindustani flavour, the composition proceeds more like a bhajan, to which the singer provided a deft classical touch. Kabir Das’ Hey Govind hey Gopal, Annamacharya’s Madhava bhudhava, and Ramadasu’s evergreen Ye teeruga ninu were among her other renditions. The completion of Janakiraman’s artwork of a sunrise at the sea had wrapped the proceedings. Sreevidya’s timing of her manodharma and neraval besides subtle vocal modulations had enhanced the appeal of the concert. Yet, one felt that her line-up could have featured more familiar compositions of Thyagaraja or Annamacharya, given the attempt of the series was to take Carnatic music a step closer to the amateur listener and not to please the enlightened rasika alone. Also, the presence of the accompanists could have helped the cause.

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