By B Ramadevi
Known for picturesque descriptions steeped in devotion and sparkling jatis, Oothukkadu Venkatakavi’s compositions have rarely failed to draw admiration. Be it the scholarly ‘Swagatam Krishna’, the romantic ‘Alai payuthe’, or the argumentative ‘Maadu meikkum kanne’, Venkatakavi expressed his devotion to Lord Krishna in various forms, but the fact remains that we have been listening to the same few kritis again and again without taking the trouble to look for more.
Hoping to bring to light more kritis of Venkatakavi, Nadha Yagnam School of Fine Arts, Coimbatore, recently organised Oothukkadu Venkatakavi’s jayanti at Vidya Bharathi Hall, Saradalayam. In spite of continual rain, the programme, featuring vocal, instrumental and dance performances based on Venkatakavi’s kritis, drew a good response. Teachers Vijeya Jeya, Radha Satyanarayana and others had put in extra effort to learn and teach new kritis to their students — ‘Bhajaswa Sri Tripura Sundari (Nadanamakriya), ‘Yoga Yogeswari’ (Ananda Bhairavi), ‘Veekshitoham’ (Kedaragowla- Anjaneya Pancharatnam), ‘Sankari Sri’ (Madhyamavath), ‘Arulaalan (Sankarabharanam), ‘Aagama Raajagopaala-Kedaram), ‘Raghu Kulothamaa-Nagaswaravali), ‘Pachai Ilandalir Meni’- Sama)…
The senior and junior students of Nadhayagnam also sang many kritis.
Well-known dance schools of Coimbatore (Bharathalayam Bharathanatyappalli, Aradhana School of Dance, Sree Natya Niketan, Jainrutha Dance School, Sri Sankara Natyalaya, Sri Karthikeya Natyappalli and Sri Thyagaraja Nritya Kala Mandir) participated enthusiastically, showcasing popular as well as rare kritis of Venkatakavi. Jayanthi Ramachandra of Sree Charan Academy of Fine Arts choreographed and presented ‘Madhava hridi kelini’ in Kalyani.
Violinists Palakkad Sivarama Krishnan, Sriranjani Ramkumar, S. Anand and Rajendran, flautist C.N. Thyagaraju and percussionists Vadasithur Ramachandran, Pozhakkudi G R. Naveen, Sriknath, Palakkad R. Venkatesh, Manimantan, Ramkumar, Chennanur Kuppuraj and Muruganandam supported many vocalists and instrumentalists.
The festival started with the auspicious nagaswaram recital of Pazhani M. Sakthivel. Vanitha Mohan, Managing Trustee, Siruthuli, presided over the inaugural function. Senior vidwan K. Sivaramakrishnan presided over the three-day festival. On the final day, senior vidwans Kadayanallur Narayanan (mridangam) Chinnari Balu (flute), Pazhani Sakthivel (nagaswaram), K. Sivaramakrishnan (vocal), S. R. Krishnamurthy (vocal) and Vasantha Aravindan (bharatanatyam) were honoured.
CB Neelakantan, director Nadha Yagnam School of Fine Arts, coordinated the three-day festival.