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Kottakkal Madhu & Ranjith Varier – Kathakalipadam and karnatik Jugalbandi, Indiranagar Sangeetha Sabha 14 jun 2014

Kathakalipadam

Vocal : Kottakkal Madhu & Kottakkal Santhosh

Chenda : kottakkal Vijayaraghavan

Maddalam : Eloor Arundev Warrier

Edakka : Kalamandalam Anish

Karnatik

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.

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Posted by on June 15, 2014 in Concert songlist

 

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Sankaran Namboodiri with Kottakkal Madhu&Babu Namboodiri – Carnatic & Kathakali Jugalbandi @ Seva Sadan, Malleswaram , 7th Feb 2014

Carnatic:

Vocal : Sankaran Namboodiri

Violin : Mathur Srinidhi

Mrudangam : M T Rajakesari

Kathakalipadam

Vocal : Kottakkal Madhu & Kalamandalam Babu Namboodiri

Chenda : Kalamandalam Krishnadas

Maddalam : Kalamandalam Raj Narayanan

Edakka : Kalamandalam Aneesh

Organised by : IPCA ( International Center for Performing Arts) , Yelahanka, Bangalore

List:

( for identifying, those in italics are kathakalipadam)

01.  vAtApi gaNapatim – hamsadhwani – Dikshitar ( O,S )

  harihara vidhinuta – hamsadhwani – Thodayam

02.  SLOkam ( pItAmbaram karavirAjitam) – Sri   ( by both Madhu & Sankaran Namboodiri)

endarO mahAnubhAvulu – Sri – Thyagaraja

ajitA harE jaya – Sri – Kuchelavruttam  ( started at vijaya sArathE)

03.  pantuvarALi Alapana by Sankaran Namboodiri

Siva Siva Siva yenarAdA – pantuvarALi – Thyagarja

SLOkam ( chintayam iti) – pantuvarALi  ( by Madhu)

      avaLEtoru kAmini – pantuvarALi – Nalacharitham 3rd Day

04. Arabhi Alapana by Madhu & Sankaran Namboodiri

shArada rajani varunnu tEril – Arabhi – Arjuna Vishadavruttam

pAhi parvata nandini – Arabhi – Swathi Thirunal ( S )

05. sAmaja vara gamana – hindOLam – Thyagaraja ( S )

  entiha man mAnasE – hindOLam – Karnashapatham

06. yOchanA kamalA lOchanA – darbAr – Thyagaraja ( S )

   pUmAtinotha chArutanO – darbAr – Nalacharitam 1st Day

07. AbhEri alapana by Sankaran Namboodiri & Madhu

anganE njAn angu pOvatenganE – AbhEri – Nalacharitam 2nd Day

nagumOmu – AbhEri – Thyagaraja ( S )

tani Avartanam  ( mrudangam , maddaLam, eDakka & chenDa)

08. bhAgyAda lakshmi bAramma – madhyamAvati – Purandara Dasa

padma vallabha pAlaya bhagavan  – madhyamAvati – ?

The influence of carnatic music on the Kathakali padam ( a big and not so good influence these days) and vice versa ( especially on the Kerala based musicians) are not new to those who follow both the streams of classical music. Many Kerala based carnatic musicians are heavily influenced by the ‘sopanam’ style of Kathakali padams (few of them include these padams in their repertoire). Some of the aspects right stress and pronunciation, the appropriate ‘pada chedam’, the emotive content over structural brilliance, the ‘open throated’ singing style, the steady facial and physical control they exhibit even at the higher octaves etc are adaptable to carnatic singers. We see some of these as Keerthi once pointed out in the singing of MDR, KVN and few other Kerala born musicians. Similarly, Kathakali music has a long lasting connect to carnatic music. Some of the extinct ragas continue to thrive in Kathakali music such as kAnakurinji , sAmanthamalahari and pADi ( very distinct from the carnatic pADi).

Kathakalipada cutcheri as a form has evolved over the last two decades. Kalamandalam Sankaran Embranthiri, Venmany Hardas, Hyderali trio supposed to have given this a fresh life and made this into mainstream. There are more takers for this form now, with the new release of financial freedom experienced generally in this part of the world. The concept of jugalbandi is thus a natural progression. Inspired by each other, both the musical fraternity are now joining together experimenting with this system. The kathakali pada cutcheri itself is in the nascent state, and hence a jugalbandi is still in its premature stage. There are a few working-together and presenting a joint concert that is already performed in Kerala, but this must be for the first time, that such an event is being arranged in Bangalore.

One need to appreciate the organisers for bring this into Bangalore, and the artists themselves. The event in totality was very good and had no on stage confusion. The plan was clearly established ( on paper which both participant was constantly referring to) and executed until time as a villain played spoil sport. Both Sankaran Namboodiri and the Madhu-Babu pair, sang their part well. The handing over, the interchanges while singing the same part ( alapana, shlokam and the final madhyamavati piece) were beautifully handled. The selection too was decent ( they might have had a few more in stock, but had to cut short) with popular numbers from carnatic as well as Kathakali music.

On the side of improvement, one would like to see a more balancing of the singing. Sankaran Namboodiri, on his part was singing kalpana swaram for every kriti ( there is no equivalent in kathakali) and was indeed taken a larger pie of the proceeding with more agitated gestures. Kathakali singers on their part was calm and composed and had their share of elaboration through their version of ‘neraval’ like pada-sahitya sangatis.

Percussion artist supported their own group adequately. One could see the changing expression on the faces of the carnatic accompaniment. Rajakesari expression shown curiosity to start with changing into admiration and couldn’t resist himself by joining the ‘louder’ kathakali percussion team. Srinidhi, too seems to be in a similar state of mind. The percussion quadruple did play a shortish tani avartanam, with the mrudangam leading the fare and the rest playing out the ‘korvai’ part along with him.

Concert started with the hamsadhwani piece, with Sankaran Namboodiri singing vAtapi following the thODayam piece sung in hamsadhwani by Madhu & Babu in changing kalapramanam & tala. The slokam that followed was sung brilliantly by both Madhu and Sankaran Namboodiri before their respective Sriragam pieces. Sankaran Namboodiri chose to sing Endaro Mahanubhavulu, probably not the best choice for this, without the swara sahityam. Madhu and Babu sang the evergreen ‘ajitA harE’ from ‘kuchelavruttam’. Sankaran Namboodiri sang a short alapana for Pantuvarali, followed by Siva Siva Siva yenarAda with few rounds of swaras. I do notice that whenever artist from Kerala sing vAtApi or Siva Siva, there seems to be a strong influence of Chembai. Sankaran Namboodiri did a Chembai-ish swara play ( only one avartanam though) during his kalpana swaram.

Madhu and Sankaran Namboodiri shared the Arabhi alapana. Sarada rajani from the new ‘arjuna vishAda vruttam’ was sung by the kathakali duo with some brilliant neravalish sangathis with different naDai patterns at a few lines. The line ‘kaLa kaLaravamoDu kUDaNayunnu’ , especially, was brilliant. Sankaran Namboodiri on his turn sang pAvi Parvata nandini, a Swathi Thirunal navarathri kriti with yet another round of kalpana swaram. Hindolam was to follow, with Samaja vara gamana and very moving contemplative padam of Karna in karnashapatham’ ‘entiha man mAnasE’.

The organisers, by now were a worried lot as they had to close the concert by 9:00 pm, probably due to the rental agreement with the hall ( I am thinking aloud, and I might be wrong). There was chits, hand signals, kathakali mudras among others to convey this message to the artists on stage. A visibly disappointed Madhu was prompting Sankaran Namboodiri and the rest of the parts, including the main had been truncated to a large extent. They sang a fast ( Sankaran Namboodiri announced that he is going to sing a fast piece, and we smiled at ourselves as he was doing just that through out the evening) darbar before the announced main came in.

Madhu started the alapana taken over by Snakaran Namboodiri and concluded with some fabulous low octave singing by Madhu. He sang the ‘kATTALa’ padam to Damayanti from Nalacharitam 2nd Day ( I am not sure if this was usually sung in Abheri, my memory says the masters used to sing in madhyamavati) and Sankaran Namboodiri sang nagumomu with few rounds of kalpana swaras. A short tani avartanam followed lead by Rajakesari. They concluded with madhyamavati, altering between bhagyada lakshmi ( by Sankaran Namboodiri) and padma vallabha pAlaya ( by Madhu & Babu).

While the effort was laudable and the attempt was indeed very good, One can do a bit more preparatory work to make it more effective. One, they did not anticipate the approximate time on each piece, which seems to have caused the time pressure . Second, selection of the kritis should ideally be of the same kalapramanam. Endaro Mahanubhavulu probably not the right choice as against a nAmakusuma. Third, the shruthi’s seems to be a bit out of sync as I observed Madhu is singing at a higher pitch than he is used to. Fourth, they should balance it out among themselves, as one could see Sankaran Namboodiri trying to sing alapana and swaras for every kriti somewhat tilting the whole show.

Irrespective of these small observations, I enjoyed ( as the new word among nettizens) the evening. It was a commendable task and to their credit both Sankaran Namboodiri ( barring some of his agitating body gestures) and the Kathakali Duo ( Babu, especially was outstanding ) did a great job. Kudos to the organisers.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2014 in Concert songlist

 

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