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[*] Music season. review of an imaginary concert.
As I am a true rasika of CM , not a day passes without my reading about music,writing about music,fighting about music ,uploading, downloading ,classifying, indexing etc. why, .I even listen to music once in a whileThe eagerly awaited season has come! My research has led me to discover that maestros and stalwarts perform during the free concerts slots . I chose one of the best, and I was there in a vantage seat. On my right there was a conservative music mama (white dhothy,white jibba white strips on his forehead,and a vetrilai petti on his hand ( an ingenious camouflage for a recording device ), with his regular accompanist, a madisar mami. On my left there were two young boys soaked in revolutionary ideas about avant-garde music.
In the row in front there was a foreigners couple probably from Pondicherry.
Just before the screen could go up, the organizer came on the stage and said " warm welcome to all of you, I wish to forewarn you that this is NOT a concert."and went back.
The French lady got up telling " mon Cheri, I think we have come to the wrong place,
Let us go."
But before her bulky husband could get up,the screen rolled up revealing a mridangist, a vocalist, a violinist, with four tambura artists in between.All of them were sitting in a straight line(180 degrees to each other )parallel to the audience.Ah exclaimed my left neigh our, this is perfect equality of the artists fraternity whose individual liberty could be seen when they perform.The French lady turned back and smiled , and said, " vraiment !" The Frenchman who got up now sat down,:"they look very much like musicians;if this is not a concert,it does not look like a wedding reception either.let us wait and see "
The humming of the six tamburas filled the air in unison.The hall was submerged in shruthi undisturbed by any cough or sneeze.what a divine experience to start with exclaimed my left.it lasted for ten minutes though it seemed ages to me.
A short bulky vidwan entered the stage,and stood in the centre showing his broad back to the audience and waved his hands and fingers ostentatiously like an orchestral conductor.Immediately the mridangam started roaring.A reviewer in the front identified it as tisra jambai thalam by the "veechu". A thrilling Thani avarthanam for the next ten minutes after which the tala master who was standing so far, now sat down facing the vidwans. An exclusive tala man !. Quite correct. Why should the violinist strain himself by keeping the tala with his feet?why should the singer unnecessarily make his towel covered thigh muscle numb?why should some zealot in the front row , by putting a wrong thalam , misguide the mridangist, forcing him to strain his neck and turn his face towards the back screen for full ten minutes !?.The French lady appeared to be slightly annoyed that this tala man is obstructing the view.
The vocalist opened his mouth and started alapana of Sahana. What a delightful intellectual Sahana it was !All the contours nooks and corners of this plaintive raga came out in all hues It was crisp.I joined the audience in giving a thunderous applause.acknowledging it with nonchalant humility he turned towards the violinist who dished out a crisper alapana. The madisar mami murmured to her husband that he is going to sing giri pai.To her surprise he brought out a complicated pallavi:" Adhi nAdhan kEtkinrAn arali poovai tharavEndum"It was a marvel of tight rope walking with all its dissections and resuscitations assembling and disassembling which baffled the tala master. The spontaneous applause from my left and other knowledgeable experts confirmed the class of the vocalist and that of the pallavi.
Promptly he started another alapana.Right at the outset, my right side mama ,rightly identified it as husseni,as if it had an invisible beard.In the next ten minutes , husseini high jacked us to heaven.my left opined that it was more sensuous than intellectual , full of mesmerizing Bhava which touched the senses,and reached the soul via the spirit thus revealing the aesthetic prowess of the singer.after giving the raga a concluding final round up he looked at the violinist.
The latter took the bow but without putting it on the strings, he dropped the violin and the bow , and bowed to the singer like Arjuna in the battle field:
Anna , he exclaimed, "neengal ippadi pAdinathukku appuram , naan vAsikkirathukku yenna Anna bAkki irukku indha useniyilE
Suddenly the inspired violinist started singing:" nEtru andhi nErathilE, nIrAdum thuraiyinilE ". The music mama clarified that the violinist is also a good vocalist.The unflappable singer encouraged him to continue and very soon joined him as a duet.The madisar mami said that she is reminded of Alathur bros.The languorous Padam was so moving that the indolent mridangist stopped playing and wiped the tears from his eyes. So did many in the spellbound audience.To every one's surprise ,a young girl,fully clad in bharathanatyam attire,darted into the stage and started doing abhinaya in an ecstatic trance.The madisar mami clarified that she is the dancer scheduled to perform in the next program.she was sitting behind the stage listening .
She could not resist the appeal of the bhava and that dragged her onto the stage.my left neigh our added that she is an ardent rasika of the singer to whom she is distantly related.on seeing the bharathanatyam the French lady exclaimed: "Oh ,la ,la, qu'elle est charmante"The tala master who was performing the role of nandhi in more than one sense,uttered the jathis with punch.
Next the vidwan sang an abhang by which he took the audience on a pilgrimage tour to Pandarpur.:"sAdhu lAra mEru randi pandaripuram pothama ". With closed eyes , he sang it in such high bhajan pitch and tempo that his facial muscles underwent much distortions,as though an invisible dentist is extracting his molar ,forgetting to give local anesthesia.The same people who complained that the nandhi tala master was blocking the view, now felt that it is a fortunate relief.
The vocalist left Pandarpur and next took us to Badami and sang: "Vatapi Ganapathim Bhaje" as the last item of the program which brought the curtain down.
-" an unforgettable experience "
The Frenchman told his wife : Ma Chere, in the season you wanted to attend oneC M program one dance and one bhajan. Now you got all the three in one- tu comprends pourquoi il a dit que ce n'est pas un concert "
My left neigh our interjected " this is not a concert, this is TOTAL MUSIC.
- " C'est formidable" she said
That is it what more do you want? He exclaimed.
- A plate of idlis and sambar she said.
I felt that some one shook me and asked me to go out before the next program could commence.Then I realized the soporific effect of music.