RaGa aka the classical singing duo- Ranjani and Gayatri, never ones to let fans down, treated the city’s music lovers with yet another excellent concert in their inimitable, trendy-traditional style.
The concert – Milan Raga, was organised by Poona Sangeet Sabha and Creaticity, with the latter playing host at its impressive open-air amphitheatre. An avoidable delay of an hour from the organisers had almost played spoilsport but the sight of the sisters walking in, in their trademark contrast matched sarees, grabbed attention.
Ranjani with her deep-throated low notes and Gayatri with her dynamic, sharp notes, drew applause, tears, ‘shabash’, ‘kya baat’ repeatedly and 3 hours passed drowned in Bhakti Rasa.
The duo’s vast repertoire and intense taalim is reputed and their choice of krithis and Ragas is always thoughtful and designed differently for every concert. That and the humility with which they approach a krithi, giving the composition and the composer due respect by maintaining the original padhati of the same while also adding their own flair, simply accentuates rasanubhava.
Muthuswami Dikshitar, Papanasan Sivan, Purandaradasa, Thyagaraja, Subrahmanya Sastri, Arunachal Kavirayar, Sant Dnyaneshwar, Sant Tukaram – a galaxy of saints, poets and composers were represented beautifully for over 3 hours.
Beginning with a crisp rendition of Raga Kalyani Varnam, Vanajakshi in Aditala and followed up with Sivan’s KarpagaManohara in Malayamarutham the sisters took the audience to bliss with Dikshitar’s Annapurne Visalakshi Akhila Bhuvana Saakshi in Sama Raga.
In the next krithi, Thyagaraja’s Raju Vedale Jutamu in Raga Todi and Rupakam Tala, the audience was wowed with the bhava of the krithi praising Lord of Sri rangam. The neraval and swarams at the Kaveri theeramunu was so evocative that my friend who hails from Mysore exclaimed,” This is how my Kaveri flows”.
Next up Eppadi Manam from Arunachala Kavirayar’s Ramanataka Keerthanaigal in Raga Huseni and Misra Chapu Tala depicted Sita’s entreaty to Rama upon his announcing that he will proceed to the forest all by himself. Sita’s “How can this Earth accept that you are leaving for the forest without me” brought the audience to tears.
Thyagaraja’s Chenjukambojhi number Vararagalaya, with its quick tempo broke the reverie of Eppadi Manam and was like an announcement for the piece-de-resistance that was to follow, the Ragam Tanam Pallavi or RTP, the most crucial part of a Carnatic music concert.
RTP is a form of singing in Carnatic music which is one of the most complete aspects of Indian classical music, demonstrating the entire gamut of talent and the depth of knowledge of the musician. Ranjani and Gayatri are renowned for their pakkad of RTP.
They nailed it with a Chatur-Ragam (4 Ragas blending) Kalpanaswaras explored with Raga Behag as its main Raga using Purandaradasa’s Hari Smarane Maado Nirantara, for Pallavi. The two sisters’ prowess over the Violin makes this very difficult and dynamic piece look easy.
A mention of violinist L Ramakrishnan’s rendition in the RTP, is a must as his explorations matched the duo’s expert handling of the complex mathematics and the intricate melodies of the RTP. Ragamalika swara-prastharams had AnandhaBhairavi, Jog+Brindavani combination and Revathi.
At this juncture, the Puneri in me was eagerly awaiting the Abhangas, another trump card of the RaGa sisters. However, the Virutham (Nadia porul kaikoodum by Kambar) filled the air and was followed by Sivan’s Ramanai bhajithal. And then the Abhanga was announced.
“Rupa Pahata Lochani” started in Maru Behag and although the rendition was perfect, the Bhimsen-fed Punekar in me was biased to lean more towards Bhimsen’s renditions. One would have expected some more abhangas but the singers decided to take up audience request. Mahakavi’s Chinnam chiru kiliye, beautiful as it was, could have been avoided.
Before you knew time was up and there was only time for one last request number which unanimously was “Pandhatriche Bhoot Mothe”. And, before you knew it, the concert was over with the refrains of Vithal, Vithal on one’s lips.
Three hours of musical bliss, genius rendering by the Vidushi pair and extreme Rasa. If anything, some more abhangas would have been welcome. But then, “Yeh Dil always maange more”.