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Ranjani & Gayatri, A Delightful Musical Duo
BANGALORE, August 25: First, it was my six-year-old grandson who led me to the music of the duo Ranjani & Gayatri. He was humming the song "Bhavayami gopala palam mana sevitham tatparam chitntayehum".The ethereal beauty of raga Yamuna Kalyani was captured well and the melody made you hum it. Little wonder my grandson took a great liking to it.

Last month, my grand-daughter surprised me by inquiring about the song "Sri Valli Deva Sena Pathay". I found out that she had listened in to my I-Pod and had thought it was "nice". Her 'nice' appreciation meant that there was something to this song. I too heard it on the I-Pod then. Long ago, my brother had recorded Ranjani & Gayatri's music from some album for which he had given a title "Paramanandam". Was it the original title of the album? I don't know.

But I searched for "Sri Valli Deva Sena Pathay" and found it. When I heard this in the quiet of the night, I found it pleasantly 'nice". Ranjani & Gayatri had imparted to the Papanasam Sivan composition freshness with many lovely sangathis in the raga Natabhairavi.

This is a melakarta raga rarely enunciated on the concert platform by modern day musicians. I recall only one occasion over a decade ago when the raga was rendered as an RTP (ragam, tanam and pallavi) by the inimitable Mangalampalli Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna. I can still recall the pallavi "SA ri ga ma pa da nI padina ganamuthey sariyinchiti", riveting and beautiful.

The enunciation by Ranjani & Gayatri of the song"Sri valli deva sena pathey" came with several sangathis, melodious and so quite captivating. This soul-enriching song on Lord Muruga made me happy. The brigas were right and the overall effect made you hum the song a little even if you didn't understand the raga or the words. That's the power of good music.

Last month I was also speaking with my son. Talking about their rendering of the raga Sahana and the Papanasam Sivan kriti "Chittam irangadadenaiyya senthil velaiyya", he said he was quite enchanted by their music. Long ago I had heard the raga and the same kriti rendered by Sanjay Subramaniam and had felt like having a mystical experience, something about which I have already written about in my article on Sanjay Subramaniam.

I was not surprised to find that Ranjani & Gayatri too have put in their heart and soul in the rendition of this raga, rich in pathos and creating a proper prayerful mood with the Sivan composition. It was not long before I started to delve deep into the music of Ranjani & Gayatri and I was soon to discover a treasure trove. The raga Lalitha is another unusual raga, seldom rendered by performers at length. It is usually dismissed as an adjunct to some ragamalika sloka. I found in the CD given by my brother that they have given meticulous attention to Dikshitar's classic kriti "Hiranmayee Lakshmim Sada Bhajami". The niraval displayed verve, imagination and a smooth flow with the phrase "Geetha vadya vinodhini girijam tham indiram". The cascading swaras, though brief, were effective, adding sheen to the kriti.

Ranjani & Gayatri are young and adventurous and quite impeccably perfect in their 'tayyari', especially when they sing bhajans or abangs. I have listened to a sweetly delineated Brindavana Saranga followed by Dikshitar's famous "Rangapura vihara" but what simply took me by complete surprise was the Meera Bhajan in raga Behag "Payoji maine ram rattan dhan payo" in an exquisite exposition of Hindustani style of singing the composition so popularized in the North by well-known bhajan and ghazal singer Anup Jalota.

As I was browsing the internet, I also discovered Ranajani & Gayatri singing raga Meg Malhar with flair as also the bhajan "Barasu badariya sawanuki". There were also many other lovely kritis, including a virutam on Lord Muruga in an exquisite ragamalika comprising, among others, ragas such as Shanmukhapriya, Saveri and Behag. There were no gimmicks or excessive brighas. The sangathis came naturally with a finesse that provided melody and exhilaration. Their originality became apparent when they handled ragas like Mega Malhar, Brindavan Saranga or Chandrakauns.

The duo complements each other with excellent understanding and rapport especially in singing kirits and swaraprastharas. But while Ranjani (I think she is the one sitting on left) is little sober, subdued and sweet sounding while developing ragas or kritis, Gayatri seems to be the adventurous type displaying creativity and flair in her renditions of raga or swaras.

Ranajani & Gayatri gave a brief performance for the Sun TV on Ganesh Chathurti day (Sunday August 23 at 6.30 a.m.), singing some beautiful compositions in praise of Lord Ganesha including lovely Papanasam Sivan compositions, one in Reetigowla "Tatvamariya tarama" and the other in Sahana with "Sri Vathapi Ganapathiye charanam". Both came out well as did their other Vallalar song "Kanum Mugathone" in raga Devamanohari.

Overall, I can say with their music they give joy-paramanandam if you like. I am sure others who listen to them will discover a music that enthralls. Here's wishing them all the best and years of creative singing ahead.