By Lakshmi Anand
Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar (C-flute) and Anupama Bhagwat (H-sitar)
Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam) and Viswanath Nakod (tabla).
A jugalbandi featuring Sikkil Mala Chandrasekhar (flute) and Anupama Bhagwat (sitar) with Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam) and Viswanath Nakod (tabla), organised by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, during the last December season took the audience to a different plane altogether.
The audience for jugalbandis includes rasikas who come for the novelty it offers, while there are skeptics like me who feel jugalbandis do not do full justice to either school of music. Expecting the usual Hamsadhwani, we were pleasantly surprised by Mala’s crisp delineation of Nata. Anupama interspersed this with the grammatically similar Jog. Both ladies had some nice exchanges of kalpanaswara for Muthuswami Dikshitar’s Mahaganapatim.
The two artists then presented a solo piece each, Anupama played Gurjari Todi, similar to the Carnatic Subhapantuvarali, but without the panchama. She essayed a crisp alap in this raga that induced appropriate pathos, and followed with a few faster sequences similar to jod (tanam). Anupama played two pieces, one in the 12 beat Ek taal, followed by a traditional composition Bhor bhaye in Teen taal. Viswanath Nakod provided excellent support. Mala followed with Bilahari, suiting the morning concert. Following a beautiful yet succinct alapana, she played Tyagaraja’s Dorakuna with creative kalpana swarams that Patri Satish Kumar accompanied impeccably.
The main piece of the concert, a ragam-tanam-pallavi (alap, jod, jhala in Hindustani ) followed. We know that Keeravani, a Carnatic export to Hindustani, has the same scale in both schools, but with differing emphasis. It was a pleasure to hear the diverse portrayal of the same raga with each artist bringing out the authentic flavour of her respective style. A fast paced and exciting ragamalika tanam followed with Anupama and Mala alternating with Jaijaivanti, Abhogi, Miyan ki Malhar, Hamsanadam and Sohini. The pallavi in 2-kalai Adi tala (effectively Teen taal) featured sarvalaghu kalpanaswaras with some interesting kanakkus during the koraippu. A thought provoking aural treat followed in the tani avartanam. Patri Satish Kumar demonstrated why he is one of the most sought after mridangists with beautiful variations in nadai, excellent kanakkus and nadam that could not be bettered. Viswanath Nakod’s solo never betrayed the fact that Hindustani music does not have the concept of a tani avartanam. He brought forth the multi-tonal quality of the instrument with well thought out variations.
Lalgudi Jayaraman’s Mand tillana was then played in unison followed by a second synchronised piece – a traditional Hindustani composition in Sindhubhairavi, Baat chalat nayi chunri rang. A fitting conclusion.
The concert was well thought out and both artists demonstrated what true collaboration is while adhering to their respective styles of music. Unlike many other programmes beset by ego problems, each artist egged the other on to provide wholesome and soul satisfying music. Artists in jugalbandis often traverse schools and meet midway, but this concert demonstrated that both styles could be followed authentically and yet present as an integrated and pleasing whole. One hopes to see this combination more often on the concert circuit.