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A `jana ranjaka' concert!
Inclusiveness is a catchy word in the modern day. The term has often only helped to create a divide. And, the term, of late, has managed to kick up a huge debate and sort of polarized the world of Carnatic music. As the row rages on, it is gratifying to see artistes sticking to tradition and still pursue an inclusive path in their music. Senior singer Bombay Jayashri stayed assiduously to traditional line as she skillfully handled heavy-weight ragas such as Kalyani and Todi. Yet, one could spot a subtle exercise. There were more Tamil compositions in her concert at Vani Mahal on December 16, 2017. `Inclusiveness' is, perhaps, a `janya word' from the proverbial term `horses for courses'! Well, it all boils down to a `jana ranjaka' concert!

Easing business stress
Artistes usually strive to bring out the best at The Music Academy. The venue has become a must visit place during the season for many a top class achiever in myriad fields. Bombay Jayashri's concert on December 20, 2017 saw the Pepsi woman and Chennai's very own daughter Indra Nooyi seated on the front row in the audience along with the Suresh Krishna, the tall leader in the Tamil Nadu industrial world. Indira Nooyi's sister, Chandrika Tandon, is a Grammy nominated artiste. Mr. Krishna's mother, late Ambujam Krishna, was a composer of repute. Also among the audience was R. Seshasayee, former Chairman of Infosys. He is credited with high musical knowledge. L. Lakshman of Rane group was also present at the concert. Music is a stress-buster, and a preferred route to unwind for these top business people, it appears.

The Boy Wonder in Bombay Jayashri concert!
The glass is half-empty or half-full. It all depends on how one views it. Does Carnatic music hold attraction for people in this Internet age? It does. And, it excites even kids. If proof were required, this tiny boy on stage as part of the audience when Bombay Jayashri sang for The Music Academy on December 27, 2013 showed it aplenty. The moment Bombay Jayashri commenced her evening concert, this boy on the foreground immersed into music. Like a seasoned tala specialist, he was counting the beats even as the percussion artistes were going about their business in a professional way. This kid too was performing in a way. He played the beats to a T. Well, this boy’s was an unscheduled yet a refreshing side- show to an outstanding concert by Bombay Jayashri that evening.

He is also a rasika
While the boy was immersed in counting the beats, this gentleman in balcony too was engrossed in his own world. As the audience listened to Bombay Jayashri with rapt attention, this `older rasika’ was happily playing cards in his hand-held device. Like the little boy, he too was focused - not on the concert though but on shuffling the cards. He too appeared happy at the end of the two-and-a-half hour concert as he played `singly’ cards! Well, he too will pass as a rasika!

Simple & skilful
She is many rolled in one. Essentially, she is a Harikatha exponent. She is an eminent vocalist, nevertheless. And, she has a rich academic background. Listening to madisar-wearing Vishaka Hari is a delightful experience. The ability to deliver discourses in an uncomplicated way is her USP. Not surprisingly, her discourses draw huge audience, cutting across gender and age. Her discourse on "Vamana avataram" at Bharat Kalachar on December 29, 2013 was outstanding. It was so not just for the way she narrated the story but also for giving unique insights to the compositions of the Trinity. There is method in the why the Trinity composed their kritis. And, there is also a manner to be followed in their rendition. As Vishaka Hari brought out the finer nuances of compositions on "Vamana", lay listeners return home lot enlightened after sitting through her discourse.

Diversions aplenty
Sangita Kalanidhi-designate Sudha Ragunathan’s concert for Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha on December 22, 2013 saw a packed audience. It wasn’t quite a disciplined one, however. People were coming in and going out constantly. Some haven’t bothered to disengage cell phone conversations. Still others complained about mosquito menace, and shifting places in the middle of a kriti. There were diversions aplenty. Abheri piece "Bajare Manase …", her trade mark "Bramma Mukate…" and the Kapi number "Enna Thavam …" stood out on a day when the Keeravani composition "Kaligi Yunte …" was the main item of her concert. Sudha Ragunathan remained focused, and did a reasonable justice to the job on hand.

A lively artiste
None can dispute this one thing about his music. His is no dull music. He brings vibrancy, and transmits it to fellow artistes around him on the stage, and also to the audience in front. O.S. Arun was in his elements at Narada Gana Sabha on December 20. If the Khamas piece "Seethapathe …" stood out, the final number that evening (done at the request of accompanying Mridangist) "Vishamakara Kannan …" showed yet again his willingness to accommodate the audience taste. One may agree to disagree with his kind of music. O.S. Arun is a lively artiste. No way one can disagree with this indeed.

Yesudas, a secular brand
Time just flew. By the time one looked at the watch, it was well past 9.45 in the evening. The 200-minute concert of K. J. Yesudas for Sri Parthasarathy Sabha on December 17, 2013 was marked for his complete dedication. There was honesty in his work. He filled the concert with a number of compositions, relevant to the occasion and venue. Kritis on Rama, Krishna, Parthasarathy, Ranganathan et al came one after another, as Yesudas went into an unhurried concert pilgrimage to many a place of worship. Yesudas may have long become a brand. He keeps his feet firmly on the ground, though. He is never tired of saying that he is what he is today because of the blessings his Guru and God. Not surprisingly, this practitioner of secularism in art has a diverse fan following.

Unalloyed music
They sport a deceptive look. When they are on stage, however, they are in total command. And, their music is unalloyed. In these days of packaged music, Malladi brothers, disciples of Neduneri Krishnamurthy, are an aberration. Honesty marks their musical expedition. And, they lived up to their reputation as they gave a classical treat to rasikas at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha on December 19, 2013. Truly, they are genuine artistes.

When Bombay Jayashri does a Sabari
These two tall personalities of Chennai sat through the three-hour concert of Bombay Jayashri for Bharat Kalachar on December 18, 2013. Not just that. They were intent listeners. Mrs. YGP and Gopalakrishna Gandhi immersed themselves in the world of music, as they counted beats for Jayasri's rendition. Once the duet between percussion artistes ended, Mrs. YGP took the mike to shower encomium on Jayashri. Mrs. YGP likened Jayashri to Sabari, the famous devotee of Lord Rama. Sabari used to taste the fruits before offering them to Lord Rama. Like Sabari, Jayashri too tasted the ragas before offering the rasikas in the audience, quipped Mrs. YGP. This comparison sent Jayashri blushing even as it drew laughter from the audience!

Driving home a message
The vocal concert of Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam for Mylapore Fine Arts Club on December 15, 2013 had a new set of rasikas in the middle row. The over half-a-dozen elderly women wearing badges sat through the full concert. They followed the concert very intently, some even counting the beats to the kritis sung by the artiste on stage. If one were to go by the badges they were carrying on their person, they are from an old age home. As Vijayalakshmy ended her concert, this new of set of happy fans rose to head back to their `home’! Happiness, thy name is Music indeed.

TVS, a lesson for younger artistes
TVS (T.V.Sanakaranarayanan) was at his best when he sang for Mylapore Fine Arts Club on December 15. Right from the word GO, it was an energy-filled concert. There wasn’t a dull moment in the over two-and-a-half hour concert, as TVS provided a complete feeling to the audience. Quality apart, what stood out that evening was the honesty of purpose demonstrated by TVS. In these times of packaged music, TVS-like artistes are a rarity and aberration. Age is a mere number. TVS and his accompanying Mridangist V. Kamalakar Rao have indeed proved this without doubt on this evening. They are indeed a lesson for modern-day younger-artistes.

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