Concert Reports
Bombay Sisters, Pushpa Anand

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[Editor's Note: The concert reports published here are voluntary contributions of rasikas, Sri. Balasubramanian Sankar of Singapore and Balaveenai Sri. T. R. Balakrishnan of Chennai. Any views and opinions expressed here are entirely their own]

Bombay Sisters at Singapore, Sept. 19th 2004

Bombay sisters Saroja and Lalitha belong to the Old order of Carnatic Music.  Their successful partnership over the years is based on strong fundamentals – Ivy league schooling is the first and foremost credential – their formative learning was from the legendary Musiri Subramanya Iyer, considered by many to be one of the best performer-cum-teacher of his times.  The importance of these formative years in Carnatic Music can never be overemphasized.  It not only shapes the skills, but also the attitudes (humility and respect are part of it) , inculcates the fine balance between technical and aesthetic facets, builds a formula for enduring success and most importantly, a commonsense approach to catering to a varied audience.  The ideal Guru teaches not only the good lessons, but also helps to filter the rest. In these times of self learning and tape-shishya parampara, this element is often missing.  Saroja and Lalitha back such a fantastic schooling with excellent programming sense, kalapramana , passionate rendering and measured swara fireworks.  Although the proverbial age has caught up with Saroja’s voice, Lalitha revels in the opportunity to play the lead.

The concert at the Ceylon Ganesha Temple at Singapore on the occasion of Vinayaka Chathurthi, was a testimony to these.  A concert studded with Bhairavi (Viribhoni), Kamas (Brochevarevarura), Kalyani and Kamboji as main pieces can never undershine.  The maturity of Music was reflected in the choice of ragas and songs.  The Nattai composition of Narayana Theertha ‘Jaya Jaya’ on Lord Ganesha was a surprise inclusion, marking a bright start. Syama Sastry’s Himadri suthe Pahimam is a very artistic kriti constructed mainly in the middle octave and yet offers a lot of scope for delineating an appealing Kalyani.  It is not easy to paint a good and different first speed Neraval on the back of an elegant alapana (as raga and not rhythm is the essence of both)  but that is precisely what the sisters achieved.  The athletic concerts of these days have snatched away the appeal of the first speed neraval, giving prominence to the faster tempo and the rain of swaras. Tiruvadi Charanam of Gopalakrishna Bharathi is one of the rare non-trinity kritis which is accorded the same Hall of fame. It has its unique contours – especially in the Charanam - (different from the many creations of Saint Tyagaraja and Dikshitar’s Sri Subrahmanyaya Namasthe) and a powerful lyric, for those who can understand and appreciate.  Lalitha’s neraval sparkled once again at ‘Aduthu vantha ennai’ – she is the ‘Aduthu vanthaval’ ! after sister Saroja !

Even the filler songs were sterling pieces like Manavyala in Nalinakanthi, Arunachala Kavi’s ‘En Palli kondeerayya’ in Mohanam, Kaliyuga varadhan in Brindavana Saranga.  These are songs that have attained immortality and make up for a sure formula of success among any audience class. T. R. Sundaresan of SIFAS played a fine Tani and M Balakrishnan (also of SIFAS) complemented well on the violin.

Smt. Pushpa Anand (Vocal), Melakaveri K. Thiagarajan (Violin), Arjun Ganesh (Mridangam), K. V. Gopalakrishnan (Kanjira) at Thyagaraja Vidwat Samajam, Chennai, Sept. 21st 2004

There is a void in the Carnatic Music field after the demise of Sangita Kalanidhi Smt. M. L. Vasantakumari. Smt Puspha Anand a disciple of MLV and now learning from Sri. P. S. Narayanaswamy, took the rasikas down an MLV memory lane. Pushpa is good at namasankeerthanams and Marathi abhangs too and was an important performing member of Swami Haridas Giri's group. Her mother Smt. Ananthalakshmy is a Ganabhooshanam from the Swati Tirunal Academy of Music, Trivandrum and is her first guru. Pushpa is gifted with a sweet melodious voice. She is cine play back singer too.

Pushpa started with the Kedaragowla varnam, 'Sami dayajooda' of Tiruvottiyur Thiagayyar briskly. Sakthiganapathim of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar in Nattai raga was well rendered with good swara prastaras.After "Janakiramana" in Shuddhaseemantini raga, in MLV 's pathantara. Puspha the gave a well built Ritigowla alapana and the kriti was 'Oraru mugane umayal thirumagane', a rarely heard composition of Sri Neelakanta Sivan. The janta prayogams therein  are noteworthy. 'Kamalacharane' of GNB in Amritabehag, a raga coined by GNB himself, was beautifully rendered but without the original chittaswaram. The scale of this raga is Arohana: Sa ga ma pa ni sa (of Amritavarshini with prathimadhyama and kakali nishada) and Avarohanam: sa ni tha pa ma ga ma ga ri sa (of Behag with kaisiki nishadam and shuddha madhyamam usages), and indeed a beautiful blend from GNB. 'Narayana' in Shuddhadhanyasi of Purandaradasa, said to be tuned by MLV's mother Lalithangi and favourite of MLV was neatly sung. Next was 'Ninnadanela' in Kannada raga of Tyagaraja in fast tempo. The accompaniments sportively enhanced the presentation. Puspha took Kalyani as main raga, elaborately singing the alapana with trademark GNB and MLV phrases. The kriti was "Pankajalochana" of Swati Tirunal in Mishra Chapu in PSN's pathantara. The niraval at 'Brindavana' was elaborate with her sweet voice co-operating throughout. Annamacharya's 'Bhavayami Gopalam' in Yamunakalyani raga was well rendered with the sliding brigas. Few know that the late Kadayanallur Venkataraman set the tune overnight for this song. The popular abhang 'Satkriboswami' in Mishra Sarasangi, a favourite of Sri Haridas Giri was rendered in its true sprit of elevating Bhakti rasa. The tani avartanam was executed splendidly in tandem.


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