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A celebration concert for Bombay Jayashri and T.M. Krishna
It was a fabulous evening on November 20, 2008. All roads led to the Music Academy , as people of assorted sorts headed for the Mecca of Music to witness the coming together of two outstanding artistes of modern India for a celebration concert. Their skills are honed by different teachers of contrasting styles. Not surprisingly, their rendering methods are quite different. Yet, they combined well to create an exhilarating music. And, the fully-packed audience at the Music Academy was served a high quality musical feast.

This combination is evolving into a wonderful gift to the Carnatic music world. Its uniqueness lies in its ability to innovate. Individually, they have already climbed to the top. As a team, they have now established their brand. The key to their success appears to be their propensity to constantly experiment and venture fearlessly into unexplored path. And, they have already developed a committed constituency - comprising fans of all sorts - for themselves. Their fan club is only expanding. If proofs were to be found, they were available aplenty at the Music Academy on this evening.

As a team, Carnatic musicians Bombay Jayashri and T.M. Krishna have many firsts to their credit. They were the first to come out with a coffee table book on Carnatic music titled 'Voices Within'. They pioneered the concept of business workshops to promote Carnatic music. Not long ago, they were in the limelight for organizing a comprehensive first-of-its-kind Carnatic music workshop 'Svanubhava', entirely for the student community. They have again hit the headlines for starring in a soon-to-be-launched film titled "Margazhi Raagam," a maiden initiative to take Carnatic concert to theatres through the medium of cinema.

Bombay Jayashri beheld the audience with her sincere expressive musing. "It is a celebration for us," she said. "This venue is particularly very important for us," she added. "We have been friends. We have been so through thick and thin,'' she elucidated, pointing to the co-artistes on the stage Arun Prakash, Ghatam S.Karthick and R.K.Shriramkumar. She went on to thank the city of Chennai and its rasikas for the warmth showered on her ever since she came from Bombay over two decades ago. Krishna too shared her sentiments and underscored the importance of music as a binding force. After a brief nostalgic trip down yester-year, the two settled down to serve scintillating music that kept the audience tied to its seat until the very end.

A Sedate Beginning
Jayashri set the stage for the evening concert with a beautiful sloka of Adi Sankara "Omkara Panjara Sukhim." It was a sedate beginning. The duo took select words such as 'Aryam' and 'Antar Vibavaye Gowri' gave them form and expression by dwelling into ragas such as Kalyani, Ritigaula and Sahana in an appealing manner. A Todi Swarajathi of Shyam Sastri "Rave Himagirikumari" with multiple charanams was rendered skillfully. The Swarajathi has plenty of chittai swarams and fine lyrics. They took a Thyagaraja kriti "Chall Kallaladu" in Arabhi ragam for a pleasant rendering and the Ghana raga shone with radiance as the duo gave it an expert treatment. "Naada Loludai" in Kalyana Vasantham, made charming by renowned violinist Lalgudi G. Jayaraman with effective sangatis, was a pleasure to listen as the two artistes combined to chisel a fresh format to it. Krishna beautified the kriti with his rich voice and effective rendering and Jayashri sprinkled it with swaras, giving it richer content in her own unhurried style.

Different And Creative
Krishna and Jayashri then went on to render something unique. They said they wanted to convey a message or two by presenting a collage of select phrases from compositions in different languages by great poets such as Tagore, Subramanya Bharathi, Poondanam and others. It was appropriately titled "Mahitha Bharatham" and the lyrics were written by violinist R.K. Shriramkumar, who accompanied them for the evening concert. The concert gained elevation as they began to render this special piece for the special occasion. As they glided across languages such as Sanskrit, Tamil, Urdu, Malayalam, Hindi and Bengali, this unique piece struck a positive chord on the listeners. This composition was preceded by an extensive alapana in Sankarabharanam by the duo.

This composition contained popular verses such as "Achamillai Achamillai'', "Ma Thalli Bangara'', "Hazaron Qwahishen Aisi'' of Mirza Ghalib and so on. Ragas such as Kambhoji, Shubapantuvarali, Anandabhairavi, Sindhubhairavi, Brindavani et al were employed skillfully and effectively to bring out the myriad messages contained in these verses. The artistes made the rendering lovelier and richer with some innovative technique usage such as tanam, swaras and what not. Krishna reversed back the swaras with efficient ease. Well, it must have surely captured the attention of both the traditional as well as lay rasikas. This particular rendition showed up the universality of the music, in general, and versatility of Carnatic music, in particular. For the not-so-discerning Carnatic music lovers, the familiar and catchy lyrics of the composition have sort of put them to ease and helped them to appreciate the music. After this, the artistes took up the "Vande Maataram" song with dedication and, instantly, a sense of patriotism enveloped the audience. Surely, music has the power to bring harmony among the people. The underlying message was loud and clear.

Fitting Finale
They took up a soul-stirring composition of Tulasidas "Sri Ramachandra Krupala Bhajamana" in Yaman Kalyan with great involvement. Krishna and Jayashri rendered independent tillanas in Kamas and weaved them into single piece with so much felicity. And, the merger was perfectly synchronized. It was a bold and an innovative experiment. A difficult exercise, though. But it was executed with so much fineness by the duo. "Sarvam Brahmamayam" in Darbari Kanada brought the curtain down on the evening's concert, organized as part of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest.