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A colourful portrait of ragas by Sikkil Gurucharan

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Sikkil Gurucharan rendering carnatic vocal at Karthik Fine Arts in Chennai 2022.
| Photo Credit: RAGHUNATHAN S.R.

Smart choice of ragas and kritis, careful distribution of time, keeping the raga treatises and swarakalpana under control and avoiding over indulgence — all these contribute to the success of a concert. Sikkil C. Gurucharan seems to have understood these aspects while framing his concert at Kartik Fine Arts.

Two ragas, Lalitha and Shanmukhapriya, were chosen for detailed study, with catchy and interesting fillers included at the right intersections.

With his vocal cords in fine form, Gurucharan opened the performance with the ghana raga Adi tala varnam, ‘Chalamela jesevura’ by Vinjamoori Varadaraja Iyengar. The swaras and sahityam were beautifully intertwined, starting with Nattai, followed by Gowla, Arabhi, and Varali. Tyagaraja’s ‘Chalamelara’ in Marga Hindolam, with a few rounds of interesting swara strings, came next.

Gurucharan presented a colourful portrait of raga Lalitha, with phrases and brigas in full measure. The raga’s splendour could be further felt in his rendition of Syama Sastri’s ‘Nannu brovu lalitha’. The engaging swarakalpana segment was set on ‘Sumeru madya’, and it was rounded off with madhyama-centric notes.

Sikkil Gurucharan with L. Ramakrishnan on the violin, Delhi Sairam on the mridangam and B.S. Purushotham on the kanjira during his concert at Karthik Fine Arts music festival 2022, held in

Sikkil Gurucharan with L. Ramakrishnan on the violin, Delhi Sairam on the mridangam and B.S. Purushotham on the kanjira during his concert at Karthik Fine Arts music festival 2022, held in
| Photo Credit:
RAGHUNATHAN S.R.

A surprise addition of Bharathidasan’s ‘Vennilavum vaanum pola’ in raga Jayanthasena, set to music by M.M. Dandapani Desikar, was a neat rendition (this was featured in the 1950 film Kalyanam Panniyum Brahmachari , and was sung by Radha-Jayalakshmi).

The central attraction was Shanmukhapriya, which was executed in great detail. The innately beautiful raga allows a wise musician to improvise with a lot of permutation and combination of phrases to explore the melody. With his ingenuity, Gurucharan traversed every segment in his alapana, and delved deep into Shanmukhapriya. To match the grandeur of the alapana, he selected ‘Ekamresa nayakim’ by Muthuswami Dikshitar. Gurucharan’s exhaustive niraval and swaras were set on ‘Kanchi nagara nivasinim’. Torrents of swaras, centred on nishadam, flowed impressively.

The finale featured ‘Karthikeyanai kannara’ in Kapi by Mayuram Viswanatha Sastri, and a thillana in Dwijavanti by Thanjavur Kalyanaraman.

Excellent team work elevates the success of a concert. L. Ramakrishnan’s intelligent and innovative responses in the Lalitha and Shanmukhapriya raga essays and swara sallies drew as much appreciation and applause as the vocalist’s renditions. Delhi Sairam on the mridangam and B.S. Purushotham on the kanjira added extra shine to the show, with their interestingly-designed, energetic rhythmic patterns.



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