By Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan
Intha Sowhkyama- in Kaapi raagam was perfect recipe to teleport the audience, close to full house at the NGS (possibly gathering in numbers , for the next concert Abhishek Raghuram as well), to a different plane. The mami next to me was not crying. She was lost in sobbing. And when a crude me looked her in the eye, she tried to morph the visage and put up a shameful smile. I profusely apologized to myself, getting back to my keying in, to look for the meaning of this number that let not just the neighbouring chair mami but many others too, to get emotional, as if on cue.
Meaning … Can I adequately describe the profound bliss the chanting of Rama nama gives me? Who can quantify and qualify that bliss? One who has won over the sense organs! O Sitakanta! The bliss can be experienced only by those who are depply devoted and attached to you. Verily Lord Shankara consumes the sugar candy of chanting this name and singing its glory set to music in its threefold aspect of svara, raga and laya, He is alone aware of the nectarine bliss of the experience.
A tyagaraja classic. I have seen my father go quiet and hushed us too, whenever this song came on the radio ( a small contraption electrically wired and used to sing and relay news, to the GenZ), sung by whoever. He used to say- this song must be heard in silence, imagining as if Tyagaraja was himself singing in the sanctum sanctotum of the Ayothyavasi. And when you have the mellifluous fortune to hear two in tango, going ‘Sudharasa’, it is truly a ‘blissful experience’.
Whenever I hear these brothers (who I have unabashedly promoted in many a column, including urging the Academy to put them in the evening slot,where they belonged, which they condescended to, just before the pandemic viral year- good for them ) , I am always reminded of the immortal comparison between the Aussies Victor Trumper and Donald Bradman. A la Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, just to illustrate.
But this on a different platform. The platform itself or the pitch to be precise. Trumper, they say, never cared for the wicket. ‘Have bat, will bat’ bravado. The worse and uncovered fearsome the playing surface was, Trumper played better. Per contra, Don Bradman ‘hated poorly prepared or unprepared wickets’. He said, “ Do you expect a billiards player look to a torn table to perform at his best”.
Akin to that m, the two brothers always perform a katcheri before a katcheri or a within a katcheri, by religiously ‘mike testing’. ‘Monitor Konjam…’; Sharp slighta…’ ‘Violinukku …’. They need to get it ‘right’ before they commence. I look forward to this regimen always. Nothing wrong. It just means they are ‘plan perfect to perform’ as Cardus wrote about master Padrewski Why should everyone be a Sanjay Subramanian, who comes ‘dusts the turf, sits and sings’ as he always does. It is for others to worry over the ‘pifles’. To each his own!
They seamlessly get into- Ramanai Bajithal …
இராமனை பஜித்தால் நோய் வினை தீருமே
சஞ்சலம் அகன்றிடுமே – ஸீதா (இராமனை)
இராமனை கண்ணால் காண்போம் இன்றே
பிறந்த பயன் அடைவோம்
In Maand raagam, and we were seated in a hall,a stone’s throw from the street named after this Mylapore Margazhi Bajanai legend and the most prolific bsongwriter among many – Papanasam Sivan. Mami was not just sobbing. She was swaying. Her knees were not co operating. But she performed well enough, in her sitting posture. I did not disturb her tete e tete with Lord Rama himself, this time.
Who knows, if she was crying for a long lost son, now in the U S A, having parked his widowed mother in a costly elders’ home. Margazhi magic does much for such forgotten souls. The two weeks plus are inspirational and poignant, both.
As the brothers broke into RTP, after revealing, in Brindavana Saranga, Mami was back to normal, having wiped her tears (with my kerchief, which I had hung out on the arm rest). I did not go moist for loss of a kerchief. I was happy that I could be of some help , to her in her joy-sorrow changeovers. ( Mami chose to put the kerchief into her LG Perungaya Pai-oldies may recognize it).
And the Pallavi-Ramanaamam Tharaga naamam- what else? Drenched in rama rasam. Brothers were in a zone. They were tuning up beautifully, tossing the phrase/s, as if a mesmerizing Messi pass which can’t be missed. The Pallavi phrase passing, to and fro, was pure and reverential delight. Not just Mami, now, many more were virally and visibly impacted to indulge in tap dancing, while seated. The hall was vibrating with Rama Naamam! And a little girl – special child- was feverishly following mami’s thaalam thattu. Such lively,lovely music does things. If you are observant you can watch as much as you get to hear during the concerts!
After a powerful Thani avarthanam (nowadays rasikas do not use it to slip way for a cuppa or whatever), during which mami led the audience with a loud thaalam chase, the brothers eased into Eppo Varuvaro— what a song! Always spine tingling, even a large rotund mami’s, as I could guess. (Mami was back to her sobbing- noisy as hell- but not disturbing – I suppose it was in joyous and not sad reverie).
Carnatic media is now privy to marathi abhangs. And with Panduranga as the presiding, no dearth of prayerful ferrour. Carnatic music is divine. It is elevating. Such concerts pander to the rasikas in a ponderously nice way. It is not lowest common multiple but popular as the rasikas are of different hues.The extended mangalam, their signature presentation, too sounds so cutely sweet and got a standing ovation.
Rasikas come for an experience. And when they get one of this kind, it is filling, in every which way, and a visit to the canteen for a feast of Bombay halva,Podi dosai and thayir saadam with Kadarangai Oorgai, tastes so bloody good, it rounds the day.
Your day is made!
(Author is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court)