Malladi Brothers impressed with their swara exchanges and raga essays.

Malladi Brothers’ (Sreeram Prasad and Ravi Kumar) two hour concert in Thrissur recently was evocative of the perfect understanding between the two singers as also the role of accompaniments in contributing their best for the success of the event.  Coming to the town after a break of many years, an assembly of knowledgeable audience had turned up to enjoy the concert organised by Rasikapriya. That the duo was strict traditionalists was evident from the choicest compositions they presented with élan. 

 Adi-tala varnam, ‘Saamy daya joode’ of Thiruvattiyur Thyagaraja in Kedaragowla was inspiring which provided a vignette of their musical dexterity. Further, it was evident that swaraprasthara was their métier which the rest of the repertoire also proved. 

Soon followed Dikshitar’s much sought after creation, Siddhi vinayakam in Shanmukhapriya (Chamaram) in Rupakam. The short alap was opened by Sreeram Prasad in the low register and his movements in mandra sthayi were especially noteworthy throughout. Sangatis were aplenty and aesthetically coined. Ravikumar’s essaying of Dhanyasi served to highlight the nuances of the raga and the composition was Sangita gnanamu of Thyagaraja in adi. The message of the lyrics was well conveyed by the style of rendition.

Connecting with audience

Thyagaraja composition in Nayaki, Kanugonu soukhyam followed next in the slow tempo of adi. Maybe because Nayaki compositions of the composer are very few, they announced the name of the raga for the benefit of the audience. This was a laudable gesture. Further such comments, intermittent, served to establish rapport with the audience. Kalayami Raghuramam, the Begada composition of Swatithirunal in Mishrachapu was elaborate and served as a prelude to the main raga.

The main raga for the concert was Bhairavi, the essaying of which by Ravikumar brought out all its concomitant shades. They took Sri Viswanatham Bhaje of Papanasam Sivan. Niraval at Annapurneshwari Pranesam was delectable. Variegated phrases of swaras with which they complimented each other enthralled the audience. 

Violin tani by Edappalli Ajithkumar and also his accompaniment was praiseworthy. So was the percussion tani by Balakrishnan Kammath on mridangam and Uduppi Sreedhar on ghatam.  Moreover, they were in the right proportion.  

As against ‘thukkadas’ in the post-main part, the duo rendered Papanasam Sivan’s Naan oru vilayattu bommayia , Navarasakannada and adi. The tone of the rendition conveyed the meaning of the lyrics – ‘Am I a doll in your hand?’, the composer asks Goddess Uma. This was followed by Puraya mume kaamam in brisk pace , a song usually sung towards the end of Namasankeerthanam. This is a Narayana Theerther’s tarangam that is set to Bilahari ragam and adi talam.  They concluded the performance with Annamacharya’s praise of Lord Venketeswara of Tirumalai, Bhavamulone in Sudha dhanyasi and adi.

Before the concert, Uduppi Sreedhar was honoured with Rasikapriya’s annual award, ‘T A R Chandran Smaraka Puraskaram’.

Both organisers and the sound technicians had a difficult time adjusting the sound system that played spoilsport during the beginning of the concert. But the musicians exhibited composure, a gesture of their disciplined behavior. Even after their attempt, a feedback tone could be heard like a drone till the end of the concert. This could have been avoided.

G S Paul

GS Paul is an eminent art columnist and critic. He has been writing for national dailies such as The Hindu for more than three decades. Currently, he is the Editorial Advisor of India Art Review.

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