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Homage to a legend

K.J. Jesudas is a regular at the Chembai festival at Kottayi, Palakkad.



Giving rasikas food for thought.

KOTTAYI IN Palakkad is a key stop in K.J. Jesudas's musical itinerary. Every year, Jesudas makes it a point to attend the Chembai Parthasarathy Ekadasi festival at the Chembai village in Kottayi. It is his way of paying tribute to his mentor, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar. "But for my guru's blessings, I would not have been successful. I have been singing at the Kottayi Chembai festival for the past one decade." said Jesudas, who was here to perform at the three-day festival.

Surprises

Jesudas sprang a few surprises in his concert. He gave rasikas food for thought with his version of the raga `Madangagamini.' `Madangamini' is Natakapriya sans rishabha. The alapana was fine, and the latent beauty of this raga, relatively unheard of, became evident. The kriti `Gananayaka Thunai Seyyum... ' was sung with finesse.

Earlier, Jesudas began with an adi tala varnam in Sarasangi. He kept up the tempo in the Dikshitar composition `Mahaganapathim.' The swaras in Natta were engaging and had the audience in raptures. After this, Jesudas sang three Thyagaraja kritis - `Gurulekha' in Gourimanohari, `Balakanakamaya' in Atana, and `Srikanthane' in Shadvidhamaargini. Much thought had obviously gone into the selection of the kritis. Jesudas, however, sought to stick to popular numbers in the second half of the concert. `Krishnanee Begane' (Yamuna Kalyani), `Salathulla' (Arabhi), `Nakshatradeepangal' and `Harivarasanam' were well received.

Much to the delight of the disciples and fans of the late Chembai, Jesudas chose to end his concert with the Narayaneeyam slokam `Yogeendranam.'

S.R. Mahadevasharma, violinist, gave his best. Palakkad K.S. Mahesh Kumar (mridangam) and Thripunithara N. Radhakrishnan (ghatom) provided able support.Pala C.K. Ramachandran, who inaugurated the festival, gave a memorable performance, rooted in tradition. He began with the Surutti varnam `Enthoprema... ' The swaras, sung in sarvalaghu, set the right ambience for the music that followed. Ramachandran moved on to `Sidhivinayakam' in Shanmukhapriya, rupaka tala. `Rakshamam' in Natta and `Sri Parthasarathi' in Sudhadhanyasi were sung briskly. The concert shaped up with an excellent expose of Panthuvarali. The Thyagaraja kriti `Siva Siva Siva' was suffixed with breezy madhyamakala swaras. Excellent padanthara is something that you look for in Ramachandran's concerts. And `Thyagaraja Yogavaibhavam,' the classic piece of Dikshitar in Anandabhairavi, provided exactly that.

After a neat exposition of Kalyani, Ramachandran sang the Swati Tirunal kriti `Pankajalochana' with ιlan. The main item of the evening was `Srikrishnam Bhajamanasa' in Todi, adi tala. Guruvayoor T.K. Rajamani (violin) and Mahesh Kumar (mridangam) rose to the audience's expectations. E.M. Deepu provided good accompaniment on the ghatom.

The festival also featured concerts by seasoned and upcoming artistes such as Sukumari Narendra Menon, Ramanathan G, Vijay Yesudas, K.A. Jayan, P. Suneethi, P. Ganga Devi, Kalyani Menon, Mannur Rajakumaranunni, and Chettur Radhakrishnan.

NAVEEN NAMBOODIRI

Photo: K. Pichumani

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