Shertalai K.N.Renganatha Sharma @ Music Academy

With a high-voltage full-bench stellar team comprising:

Violin – T.K.V.Ramanujacharyulu

Mridangam – B.Harikumar

Ghatam – Trichy S.Krishnaswamy

Morsing – Srirangam Kannan

”viyadAdi bhUtakiraNE vinOdacaraNE aruNE’’

I had plenty of take-aways from this great concert yesterday.  The pièce de résistance without doubt, being the kamalAmba navAvaraNa dhyAna kriti kamalAmbikE in tODi, after an expansive alapana.  The kAlapramANam was simply exquisite – slow and unhurried, deliberate yet not meandering and most of all, the steadiness and tautness that was maintained throughout.  Renganatha Sharma’s rendition was truly meditative and it was sheer delight to listen to.  His rendition was accentuated by superb and supportive playing by veterans TKV Ramanujacharyulu and B.Harikumar.  Especially Harikumar sir when he embellished the rendition with his playing as Renganatha Sharma sang ‘’kamalAlaya tIrtha vaibhavE…’’ and stood in the taara sthaayi shadjam.  Nothing short of wow!

Niraval was done at a different place – in the charanam ‘’viyadAdi bhUtakiraNE vinOdacaraNE aruNE’’ and was as evocative as it was expansive.  For the tani, keeping an eye on the time, B.Harikumar quickly moved to the tisra nadai and his skill and experience in execution was amply evident.  Likewise with veteran Srirangam Kannan on the morsing.  Youngster Trichy Krishna who’s easily one of the best ghatam players we have today, was simply outstanding in his round.


Other take-aways were the very attractive and delectable rarity – mAmava raghuvIra in the raga mAhuri.  The swara combination of the Arohana and the Avarohana ostensibly seemed like a take-off on the better known Yadukulakambhoji, but the kriti and the rendition had nothing to do with Yadukulakambhoji at all, and truly held its own.  This kriti in my opinion is a typical example of Dikshitar’s true genius to explore the unexplored, and verily striking gold in the process.  Sometimes for us musicians and rasikas, unknown ragas could seem to appear as a mish-mash of known ragas, but Mahuri didn’t seem like that; it definitely had its own identity.

These were the thoughts running in my mind as Renganatha Sharma proceeded with the rendition.  Serendipitously, as if to emphasize my thoughts and to consolidate the identity carefully built up through the kriti, Renganatha Sharma sang a few rounds of swaras for the pallavi line, to which T.K.V.Ramanujacharyulu responded with enthusiasm and aplomb.

There was this slightly elderly couple seated in the row in front of me; and it made me smile and feel good to see the gentleman immediately take out his smartphone and search for the kriti’s text online and on coming across it, showing it to his wife.  I also observed that the gentleman also searched Wikipedia for the arohanam and the avarohanam and showing that as well to his wife.  Long live such rasikas! 🙂

Purandara Dasa’s parAkumADada

Two other take-aways (actually that should be three) were the inclusion of Purandara Dasa’s parAkumADada after a quick sketch of Kharaharapriya.  This song was tuned in Kharaharapriya by my revered guru Shri T.R.Subramanyam (TRS) – his rendition of this kriti in his prime, along with expansive niraval at the line nararoLagE pAmaruDa for the album containing devarnamas will always remain etched for its truly electrifying effect.


The second take-away was the expansive alapana of Rasikapriya.  With his voice in great form, Renganatha Sharma made full use of full-throated singing along with generous akaarams and fast phrases.  The result was a very charming and scholarly alapana.  TKV’s response was equally good, and he included a dhATu prayogam section in his alapana by jumping two notes that enormously added value overall to his alapana.  This was followed by the kriti that Rasikapriya is synonymous with – Kotiswara Iyer’s aruLSeiyya vENum ayyA.  A few rounds of swaras were also sung at the pallavi line.

Finally, the emotively expressive and rare ‘’kai viDalAmO’’ of Lakshmanan Pillai in the raga kApi set to Adi tala 2-kaLai sedately rendered, brought the concert to a close after Lalgudi’s Pahadi tillana.

About Mohan Santhanam

Carnatic vocalist, based in Chennai. Disciple of Late Shri T.R.Subramanyam (TRS).
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