Bala Shankar enjoyed the energy and ease with which Ranjani- Gayathri handled challenges
One of the equivalents of the word pallavi is ‘sprout’. Ideas are meant to germinate and flow in several directions from the source. The essence of a pallavi in our context is the rhythmic and melodic permutations that an artist can showcase from the sprout. Thus, there is virtually no limit to the imagination. Ranjani and Gayathri had a perfect recipe for their concert.
The brilliantly detailed pallavi had several complex elements, perfectly executed by the talented duo. It was non-routine raga, Vagadeeswari, with tisra jampai misra nadai structure, and sruti bhedam at not one but a couple of places, with the ragamalika including a Hindustani component and effervescence all through. Any one element of these is challenging enough, all of them added up to a Himalayan quest. The summit was reached with professional ease.
There was icing in the form of a switch to tisra triputa tisra gati — the number of aksharas are same, but the eduppu was calibrated to reflect the new ‘aridhi’ spot. Even if some of it may have been the result of practice, the spontaneity was evident. The pallavi lines were ‘Easwari Vageeswari Vagadheeswari Nee samana mevaru Kaladhari’. Brief crossovers to Kurinji in the raga alapana and to Nilambari from Nattakurinji in the swara segment, which is even more challenging, brought out the best of Gayathri.
Allies H N Bhaskar, Delhi Sairam and Chandrasekhara Sharma revelled in the charged atmosphere of the pallavi. Bhaskar ensured that his briskness did not compromise melody.
The concert had two distinct halves. In the first, conventionally packaged music was featured that is often the bait for the modern audience. ‘Sidhi Vinayakam’ (Shanmukhapriya) offered a bright start. Every raga has a certain pace in which it blossoms better. Begada’s natural gait sparkles brightly in a slow-medium tempo. ‘Thanavari Thanamu’ of Thyagaraja and the swarams at the pallavi line were rammed in at high RPMs to be enjoyable. ‘Gnana Sabaiyil’ (Saranga, Papanasam Sivan) is a beautiful composition in the attractive misra chapu tala and the sisters’ treatment was good. Gayathri realised that the concert was ripe for a soaking phase and delivered it via a sweet raga alapana of Saveri. Her tri-stayi sojourns were authentic and passionate. ‘Sankari Sankuru’ (Syama Sastri) in adi tisra nadai has the structure to gallop with felicitous voices and the impression could not be avoided, especially in the second speed niraval and swaras. The slow speed niraval at ‘Syama Krishna Sodhari’ fortified the Saveri.
Delhi Sairam and Chandrasekhara Sharma crafted a well-proportioned thani and seamlessly blended it with the main music.
Ranjani and Gayathri’s tail pieces ‘Sevikka Venduam Ayya’ in Andolika and ‘Idhu Thano Thillai Stalam’ in Behag preceded by Thirugnana Sambandar’s ‘Kathalagi Kasinthu’ as a virutham took us further on the Chidambaram trek.
The duo may need to watch out for some lurking dangers. High voltage singing, exuberant high-speed niravals or swaras have aesthetic limits. Crossing them could rob the music of its pleasantness.