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A serene recital by Lakshmi Sreeram
Lakshmi Sreeram is a resourceful artiste. She is not only a talented Carnatic vocalist but also well trained in Hindustani classical music. A few artistes of high calibre in Carnatic concerts do try to present the Hindustani ragas during the RTP (Ragam, talam and pallavi) session. But rarely do they present a full fledged Hindustani concert. Lakshmi Sreeram on the evening of January 14, 2018 presented a theme-based Hindustani concert titled `Piya Bina', exploring viraha through three evening/night ragas with Aditya Srinivasan (Tabala) and Kedar Patwardhan (Harmonium) and Vibha Sreeram (on Tanpura) at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Lakshmi is endowed with a soft resonating voice. She presented the raga alap Savani & Jhinjoti gracefully. She was purely traditional in rendering the bandishes of the kayals, glorifying the Hindustani music with the impeccable renderings of the doyen, Kumar Gandharva, and the compositions of Jagannatha Purohit and Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan. Lakshmi took up the “Mori sudhe laiho”(Multani rag) vilambit ektal bandish of Jagannath purohit. She was impressive in the raga Multani, regarded as the crowning glory among the ragas by the musicians, evoking a shringara rasa. Multani also falls under the paramela pravashak raga where the time for singing this raga can be modified from one slot to another and sung during the last prahar of the day. She also sang “tuma bina maanata naahi jiyara” and “more mandirawa mein” in teentaal as she improvised with bol-bhants and akar tans with dedicated involvement. She rounded off with the fast-paced drut laya. One has to understand from the compositions of doyens that the ragas are the fulcrum around which the whole Hindustani music revolves around. The lyrics take the secondary importance compared to the melodic raga improvisations. The sound of the lyrics somehow has to blend with the notes of the ragas. Lakshmi also sang “Darasa bina nirasa” (Savani) of Kumar Gandharva and “Aaja maga jowata” composed by Vilayat Hussain Khan. Savani is a mousami (seasonal) raga linked to the rainy season. She then took up a composition of Ustad Vilayat Khan in raga Jhinjoti “akhiyaan una so laaga rahi” It was a very melodious rendering. Vilayat Khan had brought a revolution in the instrumental singing of Hindustani music with his gayaki style compositions. Jhinjoti is also a night raga and appropriate for the theme. Lakshmi’s unhurried approach and style to present them perfectly makes her a unique artiste. Finally, Kabir’s melodious composition on nirgun bhakthi (formless deity) made popular by Kumar Gandharva “naiharwa ham kaa na bhaave”, a bhajan, was pleasingly presented, invoking the biraha of the poet. She was given a good percussion support on the tabala by Aditya Srinivasan and the accompanying harmonium artiste Kedar.

It was indeed a serene recital. And, it sort of had a calming influence on the mind. A sincere exercise and a dedicated performance.

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