As we Indians are diversified by our language, religion, caste, creed and many other factors, Culture and Patriotism are the two bonding energies which provide us the spirit of Unity. Indian Music being a epitome of the Indian culture always fascinates people and inculcates the idea of inclusiveness in the society. Hence listening to the Jugalbandhi or Jugal Sangeeth, where two musicians of different streams or systems come together and present the commonalities and differences through an innovative journey appreciating each other’s system is always a noble venture. I would rather call them as events, for passing on the glory of two systems by the way of developing the spirit of oneness among the fellow rasikas. So for me, it was a blessing that I had been a part of a great Jugal Sangeeth presented by two doyens like Vidushi Smt. Arthi Angalekar and Vidushi Smt. Gayathri Venkataraghavan for Bharath Sangeeth Utsav-2016. Thanks a ton to Vidwan Sri Shashikiran Kn for this innovative and laudable idea of bringing those two special people to treat the audience of BSU this year. Narada Gana Sabha witnessed a memorable and soul stirring Jugal Sangeeth by Vidushi Arthi Angalekar and Vidushi Smt. Gayathri Venkataraghavan on 7th November 2016.
Since both of the amazing artists are jamming up together for the first time, the expectations were quite high for the rasikas who had assembled at Narada Gana Sabha. Everyone would have enjoyed their solo performances for many times but this Jugal Sangeeth is something one should not miss. All the people would have felt the same feeling at the end of the 2 hour concert. The hall was occupied by most of the people by 4.30 itself. It’s always special to have open minded rasikas here in our city to appreciate the innovative events like Jugalbandhis apart from the conventional carnatic vocal recitals.
The concert started off with the bright alapana of raga Hamsadwani by Smt. Gayathri and moving on with Smt. Arthi‘s blissful aalap of Hamsadwani. They presented a soothing picture of the raga by exchanging the ideas and rich classism of both art forms. It became a wonderful opening piece of the evening. Smt. Gayathri picked up the Muthuswamy Dikshitar krithi ‘Vathapi Ganapathi’ and presented with authentic style. Though it is the well known piece in a carnatic classical concert, every time this krithi gives a sense of briskness and positive energy. Vidushi Arthi presented a opening bandish ‘Ganapathi Vigna Harana Gajanana’ with lovely raga exploration. They presented interesting set of kalpana swaras at the line Vathapi ganapatim and Ganapathi Vignaharana respectively. They both exchanged the ideas and appreciated the nuances of the other art forms and presented it with a good synchronization.
The main item of the evening was something majestic. They had selected Raga Abheri (Karnatka Devagandari) – Bhimplasi for the exploration. Vidushi Gayathri started the alapana of the abheri and painted a delightful and aesthetic picture of the raga. Her unhurried approach and lilting voice gave an enchanting experience for the rasikas. It was followed by the soothing aalap of Raag Bhimplasi by Vidushi Arthi. She used to malleable voice etching from low notes to extreme high pitches gave many goosebump moments. Her voice control, pitch and brilliant manodharma paved way for an outstanding and blissful Bhimplasi experience. Post which, Vidushi Gayathri presented a rthymic and crisp thanam leading to the interesting and sweet thaan by Vidushi Arthi. Moving on, Vidwan Sri B Ragavendra Rao presented a ultra fast and astounding thanam on Violin and gracious play by Vidwan Sri Vyasmurthi Katti on Harmonium. Both of vocalists selected a pallavi of Vidwan Sri RK Shriramkumar written specially for that occasion. The words of the pallavi were really unique and patriotic. The lines of the pallavi are ‘Vande Nisham Bharatha Matharam Vasudha Baranam’ in Adi Thalam. The ideas while presenting the pallavi was exuberant. They presented a scintillating pallavi exposition with subtle nuances and improvisations deriving the fulcrum of the ragam. They presented a wonderful swara cascade of Abheri on the line ’Vande Nisham’. It was extremely awesome to hear to this part of the RTP. Two distinct styles of Abheri fused into one giving an experience which is unable to explain in words. Everyone should have felt it very deeply within themselves. Arthi ji’s wonderful ideas blended beautifully with the awesome kalpana of Vidushi Gayathri. It was followed by the fantasic thani avarthanam by Vidwan Sri B Ganapathy Raman on Mridhangam and Vidwan Sri Ravindra Yuvgal on Tabla which grabbed a thunderous applause of the audience.
The post thani part of the RTP had the ragamalika section with awesome garland of ragas in both Hindustani and carnatic flavours. The ragamalika section started with the presentation of Mohanam ragam by Smt. Gayathri and Bhoop exploration by Smt. Arthi. They blended with good precision. It was followed by raga pairs like Hamsanandhi and Desh. Hamsanandhi with the voice of Arthi ji was full of anguish and agony elevating the performance to different heights. It was contrastingly knocked down with the lovely happy rendering of Desh by Smt. Gayathri . They concluded the RTP by singing National Anthem, Vande Mataram giving immense patriotic feel to the rasikas in the podium. It was a priceless and wholesome piece of the evening.
Moving on, Smt. Arthi presented a composition which was like typical ragamalika piece of the Carnatic system. She began to explore the Maand raag of Bilawal that by presenting a lovely aalap. She presented a energetic ‘Baare Gar Aavo’. It had a mix of several ragas such as Aahir Bhairav and Bairagi (Equivalent to Revathi). Everytime her seamless shift from other ragas to Maand thrilled the audience. For which Smt. Gayathri counteracted with the popular composition ‘Muralidhara Gopala’ in the Maand ragam. Her improvision in the line Giri Yendi Kari Madhava was sublime to hear.
It was a pleasant surprise for the rasikas gathered there to hear a Lalgudi thillana fitting perfectly to the event. They selected ‘Dhim ta Dhana Thaani- A Lalgudi Jayaraman Rakeshri Thillana’ for presentation. It was really awesome to hear this version of the thillana by these two legends. The improvisations made in between gave a ‘WOW’ feel. The jathi and swara portion at the charanam of the thillana was very well rendered. Thanks to both of them particularly for choosing this excellent composition for the occasion. The audience responded to this piece with a non-stop applause for few minutes.
The concluding part of the concert was an abhang written by Sura Bhai on Bhairavi raag (Sindhubhairavi). Smt. Arthi explained the meaning and it goes like ‘The composer expresses the idea of being united inspite of having many differences among the people delving the Advaitha concepts’. Both of them presented this piece with full of love and compassion. The whole concert was ideally planned in promoting the patriotic feel among the audience through the performance. Thus, the two hour Jugal Sangeeth became a memorable and spectacular treat for the rasikas of Chennai. Once again, my heartfelt thanks to Vidwan Shasikiran, Gayathri ji and Arthi ji and the entire crew for giving such a mesmerizing and enjoyable evening.
Feeling Nostalgic – Gayathri Venkataraghavan