Versatile voices fill the arena

Musical melange

It was a unique vocal treat on Saturday evening as two rich musical traditions crossed the barriers of eras and spaces and came together at Purandara Bhavan.

Singers of kathakali padam Kottakkal Madhu and Kottakkal Santhosh and Carnatic music exponent Ranjith Varier shared the stage and familiarised the audience with renditions from both styles of music. 

It was a perfect collaboration between the singers as the form, structure and aesthetics of neither styles of music were compromised. While kathakali padam has its roots in Sopaana Sangeetha, a tradition of Kerala where the importance of bhava is stressed, manodharma and the importance of raga is emphasised in Carnatic music.

Though the vocalists’ voices had a different timbre and varied in quality and heaviness, the coordination among them was perfect and pleasing. 

Kottakkal Madhu had great control over his voice, with a powerful range and a strong grip while Ranjith’s rendition of quickfire swarams and lengthy alapana made the evening enjoyable.

The vocalists were familiar with the other music school and hence, there was no place for dominance by either of them on stage. 

Ranjith has undergone training in kathakali padam and Madhu has been trained in Carnatic music. The accompanying instruments were also quite new to many in the audience as apart from the violin and mridangam, the audience also saw instruments like chenda, edakka and maddalam. The instruments were well coordinated and orchestrated with a crisp thaniyavarthanam.

 The trio started with Vanajakshi varnam in Kalyani raga where Ranjith played around with the swaram and experimented with the raga by rendering different akaara. 

Next, they sang a kriti and padam in Mayamaalavagowla raga, in which both the songs are similar in style and form. It was  Kuchelavruttam in which there was an excellent rendition of gamakam.

 Ajitaharejaya from Kuchelavruttam and Kamalambike, a composition by Dikshitar was sung, and the famous kriti by Thyagaraaja in Mohana raga titled Rama Ninnu Nammina was also rendered. Thodi raga also came in with a lengthy alapana rendered by Ranjit. Madhu performed to this in the kathakali style. 

The artistes are graded and noted for their versatile performances. The duo have performed together in various prestigious festivals, sabhas and institutions. 

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