Renuka Suryanarayan and Geetha Venkatramanan
In an enthralling tribute to Tyagaraja, Nithyasree Mahadevan sang with Sowmya in her return-to-stage performance at The Music Academy, Chennai, to observe Tyagaraja aradhana on Sunday last.
Nithyasree began in subdued mien, but soon sprang into melodic force in spirited repartee to every challenge thrown by the smiling Sowmya, who was in excellent form that day.
What stood out was spontaneity; the only aim that day was to sing from the heart. The audience cheered them all along, particularly Nithyasree.
M.A. Krishnaswamy (violin) played an amazing Varali, while Poongulam Subramaniam (mridangam) and Chandrasekara Sharma (ghatam) provided adequate support.
The concert stood out for its repertoire – from the Pancharatna to ‘Pavvalimpu’ a piece from Tyagaraja’s Utsava Sampradaya.
Beginning with ‘Dudukugala’ (Gowla), the duo followed it with ‘Bhajana Seya’ in Atana, and took up sarvalagu swaraprasthara. In a mellow mood, Nithyasree explored Varali with beautiful bursts into the higher octave. ‘Sarasasamadana’ (Kapinarayani) came next with niraval at ‘Hithavumata’ amid kalpanaswara fireworks.
Stepping up the melodic intensity, the next piece was an interesting next choice – ‘Matadavemi’ (Nilambari). Sowmya and Nithyasree sang ‘Ennadu juthuno’ (Kalavati) with fervour; here Tyagaraja entreats, “When will I enjoy the darshan of your countenance, praised time and again by many?” In the same vein, ‘Meevalla’ (Kapi) evinced the saint-poet’s deep introspection.
Nithyasree next took up an enthralling Bilahari alapana begun by Sowmya to greater heights. ‘Dorakuna’ (Bilahari) with niraval and swaras was as ecstatic as Tyagaraja’s vision.
With Sowmya in her elements in the Yamunakalyani exploration, the duo invoked ‘Narayanahari.’ The Utsva Sampradaya kritis (‘Poola panpu,’ Ahiri, and ‘Pathiki Haarati’, Surutti) rounded off an evening of emotional intensity.
“I thank all those who stood by me in the hour of crisis,” says Nithyasree, whose outing this past Season came to an abrupt end. The eloquent tone conveyed that and more. “I never thought I would be back so soon but it has happened, thanks to the good wishes of rasikas,” she adds.
The car park was full and every seat in the main hall taken, the balcony fast filling up as people made a beeline for the TTK Auditorium, The Music Academy. Full of poise in her comeback concert, Nithyasri, in the encouraging and caring company of another veteran Sowmya, sparkled in all the aspects of singing, picking up the thread with élan.
The audience cheered all the way. It was a tribute to the courage of the artist, who is trying to put a trauma behind her. “I took every applause as their blessing and am thankful. I saw many tear-filled eyes that evening and was moved. All my misgivings about taking the dais vanished,” says the vocalist, who was being gently prompted by the family to get on with her music.
The programme was fixed in October last and Nithyasri wondered whether she should cancel it. “Mr. Murali was keen that I should not. ‘You have to resume singing and Aradhana will be the apt occasion to begin afresh,’ he said. I’m glad I took his advice,” she explains.
“Sowmya is a childhood friend, more like a sister. I knew I’d be comfortable in her company. Once the concert started, it was the music that mattered. I didn’t think of anything else,” says the artist.
She profusely thanks the music fraternity that has stood like a pillar of strength. “They have lent me support all the way. Messages poured in before and after the concert.”
For Nithyasree the second innings has started on a positive note, the ovation of listeners sending the message loud and clear. COURTESY:THE HINDU