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Strict traditionalists

JAYA NARAYANAN PISHAROTY

Bombay sisters, C. Saroja and C. Lalitha, adhered to the banis of their gurus during their concert in Thrissur.

Photo: k.k. Najeeb

TWICE THE DELIGHT: The Bombay sisters in concert in Thrissur.

Bombay sisters, C. Saroja and C. Lalitha, were in Thrissur, their birthplace, for a concert after a gap of 10 years. Disciples of Musiri Subramania Iyer and T.K. Govinda Rao, the sisters are staunch adherents of the classical banis of these maestros.

The sisters began with an invocation to Lord Rama, written by Purandaradasa, ‘Jaya Jaya, Jaya Janaki Kanta' in raga Nata, set to Khandachapu tala. It was an energetic rendering with innovative swara patterns sung at the opening line. The well-known ‘Brochevarevarura' in raga Kamas (Adi tala- Mysore Vasudevacharya) was an easy flow of melodious notes, sung in perfect synchronisation.

A highlight

Raga Poorvikalyani was one of the highlights of the evening. The detailed and authoritative alapana by Lalitha was centred mainly on the lower octave, going down to the gandharam and then slowly working up the aarohana swaras. Violinist Attukal Balasubramaniam, played a magnificent alapana. The Tyagaraja kriti ‘Jnanamu Sogarada' in Roopaka tala, was followed by niraval and intricate swara patterns at ‘Jeevatmudu Paramatmudu.' ‘Bhogindra shayinam,' the royal composer's paean to his favorite deity, Lord Padmanabha, in raga Kuntalavarali, set to Khandachapu tala, was an aural treat. The characteristic, slow movement of the composition and the sombre rendition made a deep impact on the audience. Saroja, the elder of the duo, gave a masterly build-up to the main raga Madhyamavati. It was an unhurried and systematic raga vistharam; she seemed to relish every phrase of it. The veteran artiste explored the entire range of swaras of this janya raga. Saroja gave a comprehensive exposition before launching into the tanam and the pallavi, ‘Dasaratha Suta Ramachandra Dayalo Maam Pahi.' Within the Adi tala framework, she presented innovative rhythm patterns, stressing alternately on various segments of the lyric. Manodharma swaras enhanced the presentation. Once again, the violin rose superbly to the occasion. The sisters made a deviation into a ragamalika consisting of ragas Bilahari, Varali, Hindolam, and Behag and made an interesting comeback to the main raga through the same route. It was a grand finale with both of them joining in. Taniavartanam was remarkable for its long individual passages, which were complementary rather than competitive. Trivandrum R. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and Udupi Sreedhar on the ghatam comprised the percussion.

Two devotional compositions followed the main segment – Narayana Teerthar's composition, ‘Nanda Nandana Gopala' in ragamalika and ‘Ramakrishna Govinda' in raga Vrindavani, set to Adi tala and written by Bhadrachalam Ramadas.

The Bombay sisters ended their recital with a tillana in raga Hamsanadam. Undoubtedly, their expertise remains unparalleled though the voice quality seemed to be strained. The concert was organised by Rasikapriya, Thrissur.

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