Vocal : Kottakkal Madhu & Kottakkal Santhosh
Chenda : kottakkal Vijayaraghavan
Maddalam : Eloor Arundev Warrier
Edakka : Kalamandalam Anish
Vocal : Kottakkal Ranjith Varier
Violin : Mathur Srinidhi
Mrudangam ; Poongad Sanjoj
Morsing : Kalamandalam Shyju
List: ( kathakalipadam in italics )
01. vanajAkshirO ( varNam ) – kalyANi – Rakti Veerasamy Pillai ?
02. SLOkam ( iththam bhartru.. ) – mAyAmALavagauLa – from Kuchelavruttam
kAruNyAnidhE kAntha – mAyAmALavagauLa – from Kuchelavruttam
vidulaku mrOkkEDa – mAyAmALavagauLa – Thyagaraja ( S )
03. short sketch of Sri ( Madhu )
SLOkam ( pItAmbaram karavirAjitam ) – Sri – ( by Madhu and Ranjith )
Sri alapana by Srinidhi
ajitA harE jaya – SrI – from Kuchelavruttam
SrI kamalAmbikE – SrI – Dikshitar
04. rAmA ninnu namminA – mOhanam – Thyagaraja ( S )
gaurIsham mama – mOhanam – from Kiratham
05. SLOkam ( athyAScharyam vaibhavam bAhukEyam) – mukhAri – from Nalacharitham Day 4
naishadhan ivan thANO – mukhAri – from Nalacharitham Day 4
sarasIruhAsana – mukhAri – Thyagaraja
06. thODi alApana ( Ranjith Verier & Madhu ) with Violin return
priyamAnasa nI – thODi – from Nalacharitham Day 1
jEsi nADella – thODi – Thyagaraja
07. SLOkam ( iTi sa NrupatinA khagO visrushtO ) – kAmOdari / kAmbOji – Nalacharitham Day 1
kAmbOji alapana ( Ranjith & Srinidhi )
UrjitA ASaya pArthiha tAva – kAmOdari / kAmbOji – naLacharitam Day1
rAgamAlika neraval (??) @ ‘mAlini rUpiNi Seelavati’ in atAna, bEgaDa, vasantha & bilahari
rAgamAlika swaras @ ‘mAlini rUpiNi Seelavati’ in atAna, bEgaDa, vasantha & bilahari by Ranjith Varier
kANA kaN kODi vENDum – kAmbOji – Papanasam Sivan ( S )
tani Avartanam ( mrudangam, mOrsing, cheNDa, maddaLam & eDakka )
08. SLOkam ( sudEvOthra vAnim ) – dwijAvanti – from Nalacharitham Day 3
marimAnkaNNi mauliyuDe – dwijAvanti – from Nalacharitham Day 3
taruNi njAn enthu cheyvU – dwijAvanti – Swathi Thirunal
09. SLOkam ( kastUri tilakam) – madhyamAvathi
padmA vallabha pAlaya – madhyamAvathi
SLOkam ( Sriyay kAnthaya )
Earlier this year ( February), IPCA ( International Center for Performing Arts) arranged a similar program at the Seva Sadan with Sankaran namboodiri handling the carnatic part with Madhu with kathakali padam. While the attempt was lauded, it did have many short comings and personally had not lived up to the expectations. Too many things were amiss that day – the coordination, the selection of appropriate padam/kriti, the selection of ‘kalapramanam’, the balance of power ( sorry) among others. The lack of preparedness was evident. However, I am aware of similar programs held in many parts of Kerala, accepted by the listeners enthusiastically. This prompted a not so excited reaction in me for this program, but, a quick look at the participating artist was enough to restore the confidence.
For one, both the vocalist are from the same school or system. The carnatic singer, is also well acquainted with the kathakalipadam ( apparently learning kathakalipadam from Madhu himself). There is no power equation coming into play. The percussion artist is familair with the kathakali system. That is what was transpired on stage. There was superb coordination. The selection of respective padams and kritis were done with utmost care and are of similar kalapramanam and musical structure. The measure and appropriation was spot on. There was no moment of excessive detailing. The percussion team was in brilliant coordination. Mathur Srinidhi, looked like an odd man out, did a commendable job, exhibiting his class during carnatic phase ( both in his alapanas and the return swara prasthanas) as well as the subtle support for kathakalipadam ( I still prefer to listen to the padam without violin support).
Concert started with a kalyani aditala varnam by Ranjith joined by Madhu at most of the time. Mayamalavagaula came in soon with Ranjith announcing the ragam and the similarities. ‘Karunyanidhe kantha’ from kuchelavruttam and ‘vidulaku mrokkeda’ had a lot of similarities. Ranjith sang a few rounds of quickfire swaras for the same. Crowd favorite Sri ragam with typical ‘pitambaram’ slokam. Ajithahare was good, but the namasankeerthanam styled ending crying out ‘mAdhavA..krishNA’, isnt very appealing to a kathakalipadam listener. Ranjith chose to sing Sri kamalambike in his turn, a great choice. We were debating the last time around on which could be an apt accompaniment for ‘ajitha hare’ and ‘Sri kamalambike’ is a good choice.
Ranjith continued the concert with Thagaraja kriti in mohanam, a bit fast paced rAma ninnu nammina addd with a few rounds of kalpana swaram. I mentioned ‘gaurisham mama’ to come in as kathakali padam and I was spot on. However, this was nothing like the padam that I’m used to listen. Everything about this was far away from the beautiful padam. Nothing of it resembled the kathakali style, it was too light, often folkish in their singing. The original padam suffered worse that the fate of Spain the previous night. Mukhari that came in soon after was also was a bit weak. The prelude slokam was not sung in adhering to kathakali style, and the padam ‘naishadhan ivan thano’ also had its own ups and down. Not one of the best. Ranjith continued the mukhari with another good selection of ‘sarasiruhasana’ of Thyagaraja.
Thodi, announced by Ranjith came in with some detailed alapana. Ranjith handling the initial parts in Carnatic style and Madhu chipping in later in a rather nice kathalaki style alapana, which I liked. Srinidhi played a traditional weighty and classy thodi in his turn. Nala’s padam to ‘hamsam’ from the Nalacharitham is one of my favourite and it was sung in style. Ranjith’s selection was a surprise.
Kamboji was the main piece of the evening. The slokam ‘iti sa nrupatina khago’ was elaborate, capturing the beautiful phrases of kamodari, before Ranjith continued the alapana in his version, followed by Srinidhi. Urjitha Asaya was grand. The line ‘mAlini rUpiNi seelavati’ had a neraval-ish repeats in ragamalika, immediately with a round of swaram in the same raga by Ranjith. Few wrinkled fore heads, but I thought it was nice and innovative for a jugalbandi. Ranjith sang from Papanasam Sivan’s kANA kan kODi vENDum, starting at charanam. He sang elaborated swaraprasthana, befitting the main, not without a couple of dubious phrases.
Tani avartanam lead by Sanoj was a pleasure to watch and listen. Very well orchestrated, restrained and not exceeding the limits they presented a delectable fair. The morsing vidvan switched to ‘konnakkol’ towards the end adding to their impressive display. Concert ended soon but not before the dwijavanti masterpiece ‘marimAn kaNNi’. A Kurup masterclass, I refused to acknowledge any other version, was agreeably sang very well by Madhu. As anticipated, Ranjith chipped in with Swathi thirunal padam ‘taruni njan’ immortalized by KVN. A madhyamavathi piece shared by the duo brought in the curtains for the evening affair.
In all, it was much pleasing and improved concert from the previous one. Except for the disappointment of mohanam, it was by and large very well sung. Many many positives to take forward to and a few caution on the kathakalipadam tradition. Madhu is a phenomenal singer. his voice range, his hold on the padams, overall grip on conducting and progressing the days events were admirable. Ranjith is a good singer. Good alapanas, some interesting kalpana swaras, and his awesome selection of the equivalent kritis matching to the kathakali padam was commendable. Percussion team played with a lot understanding and appreciation. Mathur Srinidhi, despite being an outsider to the crew played true to the tradition. His versions amongst all were more authentic and pleasing. Despite my perennial reservation against ‘jugalbandi’ concerts, this was pretty enjoyable.