- R. Rajendra Kumar
December 24, 2014
It is dark. The atmosphere is chill. There is quietness. The Moon shimmers and the stars sparkle. The colour of the sky changes imperceptibly. The birds chirp even as the Divine Painter paints the sky with grey, amber, orange, crimson, red. The huge round ball makes its appearance gradually on the horizon. Suddenly the ‘Thiruppalli Ezhuchchi’ of Maanikavaachakar wafts through the cold air….And we wake up!
Is this all a dream or is it reality?
We experience such surreal moments while listening to the music of Swappnam, a dance production of Krithika Subramanian. The music conceptualized and composed by maestro Ilaiyaraaja is intensely distinctive, emotionally rich and classically melodic, taking us to the realms of the known and the unknown.
Take the ‘Thiruppalli Ezhucchi’ piece. It starts with the humming of the male and the female chorus in Bilahari with harmonious precision. The voice of the birds is followed by the viruththam sung by Poornima Satish. An amazing piece of swaras follows in Khandam and it is harmony again. Isn’t it true that the dawn is always harmonious? We experience the maargazhi dawn yet again in the Thiruvembavai ‘Kozhi Silamba’ rendered by Sharath, Abishek Raghuram, Vasudha Ravi and Poornima Sathish. The mridangam patterns in this piece - which has Rasika Ranjani as arohanam and Malayamarutam as avarohanam - can wake anybody up from a deep slumber.
The alternating patterns go as ‘1 2 3 4/ 1 2 3 4/- - - -/- - - -’ and ‘1 2 3 4/1 2/1 2 3 4/ 1 2/1 2 3/ 1 2 3’ with the last two in the second 1 2 3 4 alone sounding in mel kaalam. Meaningfully subtle! This 4 and 16 take a different avatar in ‘Pradeepta,’ the Ardhanarishwara Ashtakam of Adi Shankara. Sankeeranam and Misram alternate in pakhawaj and mridangam with pulsating vibrancy even as Megh and Kaapi move with evocative grandeur. Yin and Yang... White and Black...Shiva and Shakti!
Forms are different, god is one. The same applies to music, for after all isn’t He the music itself? The symphonic orchestra melody which is the prelude to ‘Ezhisaiyaai’ (Thevaram of Sundarar) flows through Wien, Danube, Tisza, Bodrog, Thames and finally joins the Cauvery. It is Kambhodi in full flow from then on with the veena and venu shining with a spiritual radiance. The laya vinyaasam after ‘thurisugal’ depicting the fallibilities and misdemeanors of mortals, carry the ‘Raaja Mudra’!
The Thiruvembavai ‘Kaadar Kuzhaiyaada’ rendered by Poornima Satish and Vasudha Ravi is a shower of melody in Jog with the violin and the bass flute dancing along with the other ornaments of the Lord. The snake charmer makes the veena throb with musical impulses and makes us all dance in ‘Ayye Meththa Kadinam’ rendered by Bharath Sundar. With the divine chime of the bells, we have the darshan of the Lord of Kasi in the Swati Tirunal piece ‘Visweshwara Darishanu,’ a heart-wrenching piece in Sindhu Bhairavi sung by Rajashree Pathak and Abishek Raghuram.
Swaras in Kaanada drizzle, twirl, take silky glides and dazzle in the taanam played by the veena in ‘Ammaiye appa,’ a musically gripping piece rendered by Sudha Raghunathan, Vasudha Ravi, Sreenivas and chorus. Sung with a heightened resonance by Rajashree Pathak, ‘Bhajeham’ in the raag Purya Dhanashri quietly surrounds us like the Omkara naadam. Full of grace, sanctity and purity and replete with reposeful ingredients, we become one with the divine.
In the tranquil state, we realize who we are. ..The dream merges with reality!
Rajendra Kumar is a music and dance enthusiast. Music is his breath and literature is his passion.