Vishaka Hari at Ayodhya Mandapam
By Varsha Varadan
Vishaka Hari’s kathakalakshepam, more often than not, offers the best of both worlds - aesthetics for the elderly and her whimsical sense of humour for the millennials. Though not perfectly balanced between discourse and singing, her recital leaves everyone enthralled.
Vishaka kick-started the performance for the evening on two cantos of the Ramayana, the Bala Kaandam and half of the Ayodhya Kaandam, with a viruttam in Harikambhoji followed by ‘Rama nannu brovaraa’ (Rama, please protect me!) by Tyagaraja.
She commenced her discourse with an elucidation of the stature of the divine couple of Rama and Sita, which was impertinent to the topic. Delving into the central theme directly or just slightly touching upon their significance today might have been more impactful.
Nevertheless, the concert oozed artistry. She went on a melodic rage with her kalpanaswaras, something quite unusual for a Vishaka Hari recital. The violinist B. Ananthakrishnan was very competent, mellifluously bringing in the essence of Arabhi. Percussionists S.J. Arjun Ganesh and Trichy K. Murali accompanied her on the mridangam and ghatam. Their fingers flitting about in the tani avartanam in Adi Talam reminded some of the viewers of the quirkiness of ‘Drums’ Sivamani. Vishaka’s son Rajagopal took the audience by storm with his clear-cut pronunciation of the Vedas during the rendition.
The event was put together by the Ayodhya Mandapam, a place rather ill-famed for its acoustics and ambience, as part of its 64th Annual Rama Navami celebrations.
With Vishaka Hari's immense popularity, crowds thronging her renditions has now come to be accepted as inevitable, and this performance was no exception. The atmosphere - the jam-packed audience and the traffic outside the hall - made it an uphill task for some to give their undivided attention.
However, a remarkable performance by the whole team!