I started from my office by 5:30 PM on December 30, 2008 and took an auto to my relative's home, who had promised me to give me a ticket for Aruna Sairam's concert at Mylapore Fine Arts Club. I should thank my relative for being so generous to offer me a ticket for the carnatic music Rajni Kant's (?!) concert. Wondering why do I make such a comparison? Well there is a story behind this.
It was on December 27, morning at 8:45 AM. I went to The Music Academy for getting ticket for the evening concert which was none other than our super star Aruna Sairam. The ticket selling was started by 8:30 AM and with in 15 minutes all were sold out. Not even a balcony or LCD hall ticket was spared. I inquired an officer there why did it all happened? The answer was, today is like a Rajni Kant's movie release. Getting a ticket is not so easy.
Agreed? Can you understand why I did this comparison? Well. We shall continue our musical journey.
After getting a ticket from my relative, I went to the sabha, by walk, crossing all the traffic jams of the alwarpet junction. I crossed St.Isabels' hospital and the venue of the evening concert came. After getting my ticket punched, I entered the hall. Of course this place was not like the new sabhas with air conditioning etc. It was an age old building with false ceilings newly laid. I was sweating even in a margazhi eve. But these and all are secondary. I am going to experience a divine music in few minutes.
Well the curtains were unveiled. The star of the day, Smt Aruna greeted the audience with a traditional "NamaskAram". Sri B.V.Raghavendra Rao was on the violin, Sri Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan was on the mridangam and Dr.S.Karthick was on the ghatam.
A short alapana in the raga bhairavi followed by the ever green ata taala varnam viribhoni welcomed the divine evening. The varnam was singed in both first and second speed. While singing in the second speed, one could very well notice Aruna's style (biting and opening words or the swaras). Its her own style as that of Rajnikant's.
Tamil date for 30-12-2008 is 15-Margazhi-5109 Kali Era. 15th song in the Tiruppavai is Elle ilan kiliye. The song was rendered in the raga begada. The natural majesticity of the raga was very well maintained.
The third was the soulful kalyani. A worthy alapana and then GNB fame Vasudevayeni. Kalpana swarams for the song cant be described. So much of depth and dhuritham (fast notes). There is a phrase in Tamil - Anal parakkum - the swaras literally sparkled like diwali crackers(matthappu).
Then came the beautiful Saveri. The artiste started with a viruttham NaaL yen seiiyum and proceeded towards Muruga Muruga of Periyasamy Thooran. Misra chapu tala added beauty to the song. I dont know why, whenever I listen or sing a song set to misra chapu tala, I feel like swaying, sitting on a jhoola.
The tala contains the aksharams - Tha ki ta tha ka dhi mi (7 aksharams). Of these the first 3 (tha ki ta) is the effort spent by us for getting the speed. i.e placing our foot on the ground and rubbing. The next four (tha ka dhi mi) is the swing that we get after releasing our feet from the ground. This cycle continues and so does the song.
The next in the list was a refreshing hindolam. Aruna sang, Nambi kettavar, a composition of Papanasam sivan. The song was apt for the place as its Mylapore Fine arts and the song was on Thirumayilaiyin Iraivan - Kapaleeswaran.
Aruna has sung an ashta ragamalika (song with 8 ragas) in few of her concerts. In that, the raga keeravani was described as "suddha mei gnanam tharum keervani thaye" (keeravani will refresh one's mind and grant pure knowledge). The keeravani that she sang in the concert was no exception to this statement. The raga was so pure and orthodox. Aruna chose Kaligiyunte of Tyagaraja for the day. Niraval was placed at Baaguga sree ragu in the charanam. The swaras were as usual, rocking!
It will be a blunder, if I fail to mention about the tani avartanam. The tani by Karthick and Vaidyanathan was "THE BEST" that I had heard so far during this season. The same vaidyanathan, when I heard him playing for Unni Krishnan, the previous day in Margazhi Maha Utsavam, was not so appealing. But all of a sudden, in Aruna's concert, he was at his best. Both the percussionists played with their instruments. They tried to bring out impossible jathis, from low decibel to high decibel, but since Isabel hospital was nearer, the silence was broken by the ambulances. Minor disturbances arised due to problems in car parking. Despite of those disturbances, I could experience the divinity of the music.
Then came the majestic Kambodhi raga. The alapana lasted for 15 minutes. Predominant swaras were Ma Ga Pa Da Sa, Da Sa Ri, Pa Da Sa... That was followed by a rhythmic taanam. Along with the percussion instruments, the singer beautifully rendered the taanam. Not many will give a rhythmic taanam and Aruna is an adept in it.
The pallavi was - kaana kan kodi vendum vinnuyar gopuram thillayil. This was a mix of Papanasam Sivan's kambodhi raga song kana kankodi vendum kapaliyin bavani and Gopalakrishna Bharathi's kaanavendamo iru kann irukkum podhey vinnuyar gopuram.
The RTP was based on Nandanar Charitham.
The swaras in the ragam kambodhi needs a special appreciation. The singer sung the swaras in tisra nadai (three swaras per beat) and chatusra nadai (four swaras per beat) in an alternating fashion. The tala was adi tala (4 + 4 aksharams). First 4 were in tisram and the next 4 were in chatusram and it kept on alternating. The violinist too responded very nicely and in addition to the two nadais, he completed with a khanda nadai (5 swaras per beat).
Then came the ragamalika swaras. The first was mayamalavagowlai and Aruna hinted that by rendering Sivaloka nadhanai kandu song. The second raga was sriranjani and aruna sung, kaan vendamo. The third was nattakurinji and the song she sung was maraithirukkudhe maadu. The fourth raga was poorvikalyani and the song was sattre vilagi irum pillaai. Next was a short pallavi line in the raga subhapantuvarali and then she sang the full song - varugalamo in the raga maanji, quickly. Once the slow maanji was over, than came the swift kambhoji raga swaras and she returned back to the pallavi. There was a mini tani avartanam for 2 minutes.
Nandanar wanted to see the deity Nataraja in chidambaram temple and he went there. But the Nandi was obstructing his view of the deity. So he complained to the lord about this. The graceful lord, asked his Nandi to move slightly so that Nandanar could see easily. The Nandi obliged it's master's order and once Nandanar saw the deity he asks for attaining salvation, by singing Varugalamo.This theme was explained by the artiste at the end of the lengthy RTP.
That was a very wonderful, thought provoking and divine concert that I heard during this margazhi. Expecting to hear more and more concerts like this from the artiste in the coming years too.