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Revealing repertoire to seek inner self
CHENNAI, February 29: It was a revelation for many. It showed up the all-rounder in the usually reticent Bombay Jayashri at her imaginative best. Her command over different genres of music, her multi-language skill and her easy-to-decipher communicating methodology – all were evident as this leading Carnatic vocalist took guard on the evening of February 26, 2012 at the Music Academy along with her co-artistes to present a 90-minute recital for Aikya 2012. In a simple narrative-cum-music style, Bombay Jayashri explained how various genres of music and assorted ways of producing music had a positive influence on understanding the life better to overcome illusion.

The Academy that evening was full. Among those seated in the audience were: Vocalists Sudha Ragunathan and Aruna Sairam, playback singer- cum-Carnatic musician P. Unnikrishnan, renowned dancer Vyjayanthimala Bali, educationist Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy, among others.

Aikya 2011 saw Sudha Ragunathan and T.M. Krishna combine to produce a scintillating theme-based concert on `Duality’. The Aikya annual series is hosted by Global Adjustments. The special guest for this year’s programme was Maharaja Gaj Singhji II of Jodhpur. The Maharaja was happy to be present at the venerable Music Academy, considered the Mecca of Carnatic music, to witness a grand recital.

In the end, Aikya 2012 turned out to be a spectacular event with Bombay Jayashri and her team producing different genres of music from within and outside the country.

The audience was also treated to some lovely South East Asian and Japanese music by accompanying instrumentalists.

Bombay Jayashri spearheaded the concert. The theme chosen for the evening was based on ‘Relationship’. She tried to drive home the point that the best relationship one could have was the one with the inner self and the divine. Bombay Jayashri shared her musical odyssey and joy of discovery over many years with the audience commendably. “There exists a mirror between us and God. That mirror is the reflection of the world. World is considered an illusion. And, the easy way to go through this illusion is music.”, she went on to elaborate.

She elucidated this musically with her sweet singing voice. She took everybody back in time to the court of Emperor Akbar and Mia Tansen and explained the origin of Gurjari Todi. This particular Todi has a history connected with Tansen’s music. Saint composer Dikshitar was very much impressed by Gurjari Todi’s equivalent in Carnatic genre - Raga Shubapantuvarali - and composed “Sri Sathayanarayanam Upasmahe”. This was sung in sync by her students and artistes Poornima, Keerthana, Krithika, Pavithra ,Abhinaya and others.

Mia Tansen was among nine gems in the court of Akbar and credited with the discovery of many ragas such as Darbari Kanada and Mia ki Malhar, among others. Jayashri introduced the history and its relevance briefly before embarking on a Darbari Kanada journey. Many film songs are composed in this raga. Seasoned Embar Kannan played “Aagaya Vennnilave” on the Violin and Flautist Naveen Iyer played “Kalyana then Nila” of music maestro Illayaraja. What followed was unexpected. When Jayashri began “Jhanak Jhanak Tori Baje Payaliya” in Darbari, the audience was stumped. It lasted only a while before the surprised audience began to straighten up and nod their heads in appreciation. This film song gave an enriching experience and the magic of magnificient Darbari came alive in all its splendour. Jayashri took the assembled through a kaleidoscope effect of the ragas in its varied hues and patterns. She demonstrated the pentatonic ragas and their beauty. Hindolam, Suddha Saveri, Durga, Malkauns, Mohanam and the like – all these were beautifully sketched out by the artistes to produce a `sampoorna’ effect on the audience. Instrumentalists Embar Kannan (Violin), Naveen Iyer (Flute) and Navneeth Sundar (Piano) were impressive and did create a positive `relationship’ with the audience. The artistes were accompanied by J.Vaidyanathan on Mridangam and Sai Shravanam on the Tabala. “Bhaktha Jana Vatsale”, an Abhang, reinforced Jayashri’s quiet communication with her `fan parivar’.

Earlier, Jayashri prepared everyone for a grand evening as she began with a Sanskrit composition “Sri Valli Devasenapathe” in Natabhairavi .This raga has seven notes. And, the Janya raga Darbari was played beautifully, accompanied by a resonating sound of flute. Explaining the concept of love, she sang Subramanya Bharathiyar’s “Malai Pozhudil”. This song is all about the nature and describes the meeting of the sky with the ocean at the horizon. This poetry gives a new dimension to music. She explained the North Indian style of singing such as Bandish, Khayal, Thumri et al. She then sang the evergreen “Aap ki Nazron ne Samja” in Darbari. This song by Lata Mangeshkar (Madan Mohan scored the music for it) is indeed all time favourite of music lovers across age, gender and geography. She then went down the memory lane to recall her Ghazal learning under guru Mahavir Jaipurwale. Her guru, she said, always insisted that Ghazal was to bring the pain through music. ``It is prefixed after an animal’s cry,’’ she added. She then went on to explain how Raga Kalyani was best suited to express a wish or a desire. So saying, she ventured into “Ranjish hi Sahi” in Yaman in an enticing way. "Embar Kannan resurrected the Tamil film song "Sundari Kannal Oru Sedhi". Naveen played "Tendral Vandu Ennai". To listen to this song in a bansuri was an ecstatic experience. Many other small melody pieces by this flautist elevated the concert. Thyagaraja’s “Mokshamu Galada” in Saramathi was impressively presented by her students. Added to this is Iyer’s intermittent intervention in his flute.All these have sort of brought a kind of soul-searching experience. Jayashri brought the beautiful evening to a finish with a Vysaraja Padam in Sindhubhairavi and her Guru Lalgudi G Jayaraman’s thillana.

Jayashri brought to fore the Saint composers’ underlying message through their compositions. The message was clear: See the divine and overcome the illusion. Even as she sought to discover their message, Jayashri’s presentation was aesthetic.

History is replete with instances of music miracles. If Dikshitar had brought rains prostrating before the Goddess by singing the raga Amirthavarshini, Tansen brought clouds and showers with Megh Malhar and lit up lamps with Deepak Rag. Tansen’s guru Haridas was such a great musician. Tansen had married Akbar’s daughter Mehrunissa and settled down in the Mogul’s court. Thanks to him, the Mogul Court had seen many wonders take place, including the calming of a wild elephant with his music. Music indeed is the best way to promote harmony and peace in the world!

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