Song of Surrender

Monday, 13 August 2012

Oli Chamber Concert 12

By Vivadi

Tribute to DKJ by Vijay Siva and team

When Gandhiji died, Kalki Krishnamurthy wrote a poem on him, and this was promptly tuned by D K Jayaraman in a string of ragas starting with Khamas. DKJ lost the lyrics and the tune, but remembered the story. Vijay Siva obtained the lyrics from Kalki’s son Rajendran and asked DKJ to teach him the song, but DKJ postponed this for years. Vijay Siva took to carrying around the lyrics of the song wherever he travelled with his guru, until one night, after a concert, in the hotel where they were staying, DKJ asked Siva, "Where is that Kalki song?"

The relationship between guru and sishya in our classical arts is much more than that of teacher and student. The word 'mentor' perhaps captures its essence better, but still fails to do complete justice. The guru is sometimes an advisor, sometimes a father and sometimes a friend. D K Jayaraman shared such a relationship with Vijay Siva, who paid tribute to it at Oli -- accompanied by R K Shriramkumar and Manoj Siva, both disciples of D K Jayaraman—by choosing compositions and ragas that had, for him, an intimate connection with his guru.

DKJ, Siva said, did not see 'chira tara sampat'—continuous, stable, wealth—until late in his life. Apparently, he only did when he learnt Dikshitar's Hiranmayeem in praise of Lakshmi. Because he wanted his students to prosper, he taught them the kriti as early as he could. D K Jayaraman's renditions of Dikshitar kritis are known to be the most soulful and most authentic, and Vijay Siva highlighted the aspect in an intriguing Saranga sangati in Arunachalanatham—one that is not found in any other composition. In the swara exchange, Shriramkumar deftly wove this sangati into a pattern, drawing a respectful "Bhale!" from both the Sivas on stage.

The Kharaharapriya alapana was the high point of the concert—it exemplified everything that makes Vijay Siva's music so enthralling. It had individualism, inventiveness, verve, energy; it had soul. It was like nothing we had heard before. Still, it was highly classical. The Senthil Aandavan that followed, a kriti that DKJ had made his own, was peppered with an endearing swara exchange between Siva and Shriramkumar, each pushing the other gently in friendly competition.

It helps, they say, for a mridanga vidwan to know the intricacies of the composition and the music. This was in ample evidence in the rapport between the brothers Siva. Manoj had understood and internalised every sangati of Marakkaathe Maname, a Kovai Subri composition tuned by DKJ that he underscored it with the most apt sollus, pauses and phrasings. Even taking his hands off the mridangam for a drutam to allow Vijay Siva to pull off a spectacular briga with greater clarity was plotted to perfection.

Even on a normal day, a good Ahiri can be unsettling and beautiful at once, but in an emotionally charged environment, it attained greater heights. Vijay Siva told us of how his guru loved a line in Sri Kamalamba Jayati so much that he made his students sing it again and again and lost himself in that music. When the line came, Manoj Siva went silent for a second or two, just to heighten the tension around it. The effect was spellbinding.

Vijay Siva's music sparkles with such wit. that you are moved to giggle every now and then. His repartee with Shriramkumar in the main piece of the evening, Sri Raghuvara in Kambhoji—another trademark of the sampradayam—was enlightening and enlivening. The three artistes seemed to hold the mood and tempo of the kriti on such a tight leash that they never let it meander or drift, always offering an insight, an unexpected turn, or even a chuckle!

When Vijay Siva wound up with Sri Kamalambike Jayati, the Kamalamba mangalam kriti in Sri ragam, he said, casually glancing at the DKJ photo that Shriramkumar had placed in the corner of the room, that this concert was not conceptualised by him, his accompanists or the Oli Team; it was DKJ's doing.

It was DKJ's will that brought all of us together to share an extremely special evening in his company. There isn't a better way of putting what we felt that evening.

The musicians

Vijay Siva (vocal)
RK Shriram Kumar (violin)
Manoj Siva (mridangam)

The concert

Varnam                          Kedaragowlai              Adi                       Tiruvotriyur Tyagayyar
Hiranmayeem               Lalita                            Tisra Eka             Muttuswami Dikshitar
Arunachalanatham       Saranga                        Tisra Eka             Mutthuswami Dikshitar
Senthil Andavan           Kharaharapriya           Rupakam            Papanasam Sivan
Marakkathe                  Todi                               Adi                       Kovai Subri (Tune by DKJ)
Sri Kamalamba jayati  Ahiri                             Tisra eka             Muttuswami Dikshitar
Sri Raghuvara              Kambhoji                      Adi                        Tyagaraja
Karunai deivame         Sindhubhairavi            Adi                       Madurai Srinivasan
Maname kanamum     Bhimplas                       Adi                       Papanasam Sivan
Ittanai naal                   Ragamalika                  Adi                        Kalki (tune by DKJ)
Sri Kamalambike         Sri                                 Khanda eka         Muttuswami Dikshitar

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